"This partnership between our extraordinary artisanal brewing team and one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch..."
March 29, 2011 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Popular Chicago Brewery Goose Island has been bought by Anheuser-Busch. Moreover, brewmaster Greg Hall has resigned and will be replaced by Brett Porter, former head brewer of Deschutes Brewery.
posted by IjonTichy (139 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Brett Porter can't be his real name.
posted by goethean at 9:49 AM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch

Sir, I believe those are fighting words.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:49 AM on March 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, shit.
posted by PsychoTherapist at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And now Goose Island will brew Goose Shiet Beer, to better fit in with the AB brand of taste.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


To be fair, there was identical outcry five years ago when A-B bought up 40% of Goose Island's stock. The quality didn't decline then. I'm going to go with tentatively & skeptically hopeful.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Please oh please let the quality not change. I haven't gotten to have any GA yet.
posted by JauntyFedora at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011


Interview with Greg Hall.

Highlight: "See ya suckaaaaas!!"
posted by goethean at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011


I should note, while wearing an entirely neutral, deadpan face, that the title quote is from Goose Island founder and president John Hall.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bring on the rice and corn!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


With the crappy macros scooping up craft breweries left and right, it's more important than ever to support your local craft brewers. Drink local!
posted by brand-gnu at 9:56 AM on March 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


Mister Fabulous: "...one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch..."
Sir, I believe those are fighting words.


I'm sure what he meant was "one of the b[IGG]est brewers in the world". Sounds similar, means something entirely different.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


And if it does go downhill, I still have Piece and Two Brothers and Revolution.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on March 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


...and Half Acre and Metropolitan.
posted by enn at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


A lot of micros have grown without having to resort to buyouts from megaconglomerates like InBev. Maybe in 2011 that kind of slow and steady growth is no longer possible but I'd like to think it is.

Best of luck to them but they're way more optimistic about the future under InBev than I could ever be.
posted by tommasz at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2011


Please oh please let the quality not change.

Good luck with that. Since Anheuser-Busch bought (49% of) Old Dominion Brewing Company the quality of their beers have declined while tasty and award winning beers have been dropped from the line-up.
posted by peeedro at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those of you who are concerned about beer and/or fair business practices should probably watch Beer Wars if you haven't already.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:03 AM on March 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I will miss Sophie...
posted by soplerfo at 10:03 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) I read an interview with some brewers once, who said that whatever you might think of the end product, AB does an amazing job with quality control (in that the product tastes consistent, which is hard to do apparently), so maybe they do have something to offer.

2) Mcdonalds has owned Chipotle for a very long time and still the burritos taste yummy. there's room for crappy megacorps to own smaller, quality producers without ruining them (and maybe it's a good model).
posted by nickgb at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


That's unfortunate, but people who can turn down that much money are rare. It's hard to fault someone for taking an opportunity to grow their business, even when it couldn't look more like a deal with the devil if the contracts were signed in blood.

It makes me respect other small breweries, like D.G. Yuengling, who have refused to sell out, even when doing so means that they're permanently staying a regional producer. It takes a lot of confidence to say "nope, we're doing fine on our own." It's too bad such sentiments aren't more common, but since just about everything in the U.S. business world selects against it, I'm not really surprised.

Personally, I want the Anheuser-Busch jerks to die in a fire just for what they did to Rolling Rock. Sure, it was a crummy beer, but it was a crummy beer with soul, and that is something they will never have.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


They outsourced their IPA and Honker's ale about a month ago, too (which are, arguably, the closest beers they have to AB).

On Twitter:
Our brew pubs are not a part of this deal and the pub brewers will continue as usual.
So while there may be some stability in the meantime, I can only imagine that many working there will flock to clearer lakes soon enough.
posted by stance at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2011


I will miss Sophie...

And Matilda...
posted by Bummus at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2011


I don't care whether the quality changes or not; I'm not buying Goose Island any more.

I'll miss them, but where I live it's easy to find plenty of excellent competition. Competition that I don't have to feel like I've just plunked a quarter in the Build a New Death Star fund jar when I buy.
posted by gurple at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


And coincidentally today InBev announced that August Busch IV is stepping down from the board, just three short months after that young gal popped up dead in his bed… from an overdose. But it's for "health reasons" or some such.
posted by readyfreddy at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2011


I keep trying to find something that doesn't suck about this news. I still haven't forgiven them for pulling Rolling Rock out of Latrobe--I mean what else is there in Latrobe? Now this? Sadly I do enjoy a few InBev (mmm...Boddingtons) beers, so I can at least hope they don't outright kill the product line. Its still sad...
posted by ironbob at 10:05 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always forget that Blue Moon is owned by Coors.
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


And Matilda
Weirdly enough, Greg Hall (who is leaving the Island), was interviewed earlier this week:
Goose will get an immediate infusion of $1.3 million. What does that do?
That adds capacity primarily for Matilda. There will be more fermenters. That is a first step. We're going to need a lot more [money] over time.
posted by stance at 10:07 AM on March 29, 2011


You know, I thought their quality declined years ago. About the time they started pushing the 312. They would still have occasional nice small batch beers, but the main selection really lost my interest. I guess the buyout was inevitable. Yet another reason to drink Bell's.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:08 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sic transit gloria mundi.

And in the case of Anheuser-Busch, very sic indeed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:12 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) I read an interview with some brewers once, who said that whatever you might think of the end product, AB does an amazing job with quality control (in that the product tastes consistent, which is hard to do apparently), so maybe they do have something to offer.

They are very good at quality control in the respect that a Bud Light drank in St. Louis will taste the same as a Bud Light found anywhere else in the world. Of course, this does not imply in any way that A-B beers are delicious.

2) Mcdonalds has owned Chipotle for a very long time and still the burritos taste yummy. there's room for crappy megacorps to own smaller, quality producers without ruining them (and maybe it's a good model).

From 1998 to 2006, McDonald's Corporation owned a majority interest in Chipotle, which it fully divested in 2006. Further, Chipotle had to fend off McDonald's from trying to change the menu.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:13 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mcdonalds has owned Chipotle for a very long time and still the burritos taste yummy. there's room for crappy megacorps to own smaller, quality producers without ruining them (and maybe it's a good model).

Argh, no offense, but I see this pop up a lot online like an urban legend explaining why you shouldn't eat Pop Rocks and Coke: McDonald's no longer owns Chipotle.

And not as a diss to McD, but just the facts: Even when McDonald's "owned" Chipotle, it was just a financial majority stake in the company as an investor, not a decision maker in the operations for the chain, and it was only for a couple of years.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2011


The quality's always been mixed, in my opinion, but that doesn't mean they haven't continued to put out some fantastic beers in recent years.
I'm not buying Goose Island any more.
I wouldn't rule them out completely if you're a local. Their pub beer will be a separate business and you won't be contributing to AB.

Really, though, the positive thing is Greg Hall is leaving with this deal, which means he'll probably start a new brewery.
posted by stance at 10:16 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


stance, that seems unlikely.

"I can’t really talk about what I’ll be doing for another month or so but it won’t be beer."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:22 AM on March 29, 2011


Here's a really good list of brands owned by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. Hopefully, this will allow you to do as I did the other day, when a friend of mine ordered a Shock Top at the bar, and I was like, "Hey, that's a Michelob!" and I got to watch him look suddenly dismayed.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


Their pub beer will be a separate business and you won't be contributing to AB.

Same thing happened to Old Dominion, the brewpubs were franchised off as a separate business that pays licensing fees to use the name. Their beer selection was mixed up to include InBev products as well as Old Dominion branded beers. If you buy it in the brewpub or on the store shelf, you're buying an InBev product.
posted by peeedro at 10:29 AM on March 29, 2011


the brewpubs were franchised off as a separate business that pays licensing fees to use the name

So are they actually going to be selling, in the brewpub, the stuff they are brewing in the brewpub? Or are they going to be selling the mainline Goose Island product, and the brewing is an infotainment demonstration kind of thing, like the lady spinning flax at Old Sturbridge Village?
posted by enn at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2011


Yeah, I just learned recently that ShockTop was actually a Michelob product. My wife loves it, and I like it pretty good as well (with orange slice!), and I just assumed it was one of the many microbrews bought up by AB/inBev. And while I'm generally a porter/stout fan, we buy quite a bit of 312 as well, so hopefully this will make it easier to get (I live a mile from AB), while not decreasing quality (too much).
posted by mysterpigg at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2011


AB has to be very, very good at quality control as consistency is the one and only identifiable attribute in a Bud. No hops, no malt, just consistency. More flavorful beers are better at hiding minor variations in the ingredients and brewing process, obviously.
posted by tommasz at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2011


This makes me sad. Their Bourbon County Stout was only recently discovered by this household, and we bought what we could at BevMo.
posted by rtha at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2011


Hoegaarden? Leffe? Budweiser Budvar/Czechvar? Hell yes they're one of the best brewers in the world.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:38 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoegaarden? Leffe? Budweiser Budvar/Czechvar? Hell yes they're one of the best brewers in the world.

Leffe isn't what it once was, not by a long shot. I haven't had a Czechvar in years, so I can't speak to that. Hoegaarden... well, I'll give them that. They haven't really screwed up Hoegaarden, except in removing me as a customer of Hoegaarden.
posted by gurple at 10:41 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


AB only markets Budvar/Czechvar stateside. Too much bad blood there for a true union, I think.
posted by Iridic at 10:42 AM on March 29, 2011


AB does an amazing job with quality control (in that the product tastes consistent, which is hard to do apparently), so maybe they do have something to offer

In that it's the only stuff Bear Grylls seems to enjoy.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:44 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


...a friend of mine ordered a Shock Top at the bar, and I was like, "Hey, that's a Michelob!" and I got to watch him look suddenly dismayed...

Michelob is actually pretty interesting as a brand. I remember going on a huge St. Louis beer tour/press trip, and part of it was visiting the AB plant. We got to meet the brewers who worked on the Michelob team, and it was cool to see the products and pet projects they had going on. The impression I got from them was sort of like, they were the crazy test car team of a bigger car company. Like the ones who'd be churning out the Alfa Romeos while the rest of the company focused on making the solid, money making mini vans and Honda Civics.

The team was pretty fun to talk to because even the way it was composed seemed like some kind of buddy cop movie or Armageddon type casting. There ws the usual gruff old-timer (who you know when shit went down and the plant was like exploding or something would have your back like "NOT ON MY WATCH, KID! WE'RE ALL GETTING OUT OF HERE!!" *Michael Bay explosions*), the not-so-old guy, and the newest maverick edition, a young woman. The gruff old man joked about the new young kid on the team and her crazy experiments, but you could tell he was joking to mask the sort of amusement and "Well, shucks I never thought of that" kind of complimenting when he'd rib her about the one beer she made using elder flower (he even admitted that it tasted pretty good!). The not-so-old dude showed off a barrel he had sitting in the corner of one room where they were trying out barrel aging beer.

There were a LOT of beers we sampled that were still in test runs and not even on the market yet (or soon to be) that were very, very different from what you'd expect from a big name beer company. And the majority of the people on the trip with me said that pretty much, this was all really cool and tasted interesting, but it wouldn't sell. Not so much because AB would say no to them, but because consumers also have a certain expectation when they hear the name "Michelob" and would be wary of buying anything that sounded too ambitious or different from the usual.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like Busch OK. Never heard of Goose Island. There's more than enough microbreweries around in California for me not to worry much. Yet.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on March 29, 2011


Aw, my aunt had her wedding reception at Goose Island years ago and I always had fond memories, even as I gave up buying it and moved on to better beers. Goose Island really had been outpaced by its competition, at least for my palate.
posted by klangklangston at 10:57 AM on March 29, 2011


As long as AB stays far away from Dogfish Head, I'll be happy.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


That list of other beers owned by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors pretty much explains why my local rite aid and vons carry what they do. I had wondered about the blueberry lager, it seemed so out of place amongst the others.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:02 AM on March 29, 2011


bashos_frog: "As long as AB stays far away from Dogfish Head, I'll be happy."

Dogfish Head just cut distribution to several states because demand for their overpriced product has gotten too high for them to meet. They're just as vulnerable. Although I don't know who owns what parts of them, compared to Goose Island which even before the buyout was part owned by AB along with Widmer and Redhook.
posted by mkb at 11:05 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


This news will make the bottles of Night Stalker I'm cellaring taste all the more bittersweet.

Has Greg Hall said anything publicly about his resignation?
posted by box at 11:10 AM on March 29, 2011


I love their Bourbon County Stout (to the point of working on homebrew versions). I'm glad I got a bottle of BCS Rare while I did, and haven't opened it yet.

I'll reserve judgement on the quality of their beers as time goes on.
posted by jbelshaw at 11:17 AM on March 29, 2011


Has anyone mentioned that Deschutes makes good fuckin' beer?
posted by basicchannel at 11:18 AM on March 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Dogfish Head just cut distribution to several states because demand for their overpriced product has gotten too high for them to meet. They're just as vulnerable.

Oddly enough, I've heard (beginning a few years ago) that DFH believes they could expand a great deal, and sell a shit-ton of beer, if they would shift production so they brewed mostly 60-Minute. Which, actually, I'd be fine with, because I think everything else they make is mostly crap and I really like 60-Minute. (Although Aprihop is sometimes outstanding.)

Their contention is that they'd rather brew the range of smaller-batch weird stuff that they produce now instead. Whether this is all, strictly-speaking, true, or not, I don't know.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:18 AM on March 29, 2011


Of course beers come and beers go. I've seen this happen before with breweries like Upper Canada, which was one of my favorites until Sleeman *spits* bought them out. They ruined the beer and killed off "Rebellion" (a beer that was one of the reasons I don't remember much from my first couple of years of university). Now Upper Canada is mostly known as a shit "buck-a-beer" beer. You move on.

These days, when I'm back in Chicago, I either drink Belgian imports that I can't find in Toronto, or Old Style (typically as a pairing with White Castle).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:19 AM on March 29, 2011


Chipotle for a very long time and still the burritos taste yummy

If yummy means bland and redolent of barf, yes, I guess so.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Competition that I don't have to feel like I've just plunked a quarter in the Build a New Death Star fund jar when I buy.

relax guy, that feeling goes away after 3 or 4.
posted by Hoopo at 11:23 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course beers come and beers go. I've seen this happen before with breweries like Upper Canada, which was one of my favorites until Sleeman *spits* bought them out.

Creemore Springs and Beau's are the answer. To everything.
posted by Hoopo at 11:26 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as there are still crazy little local breweries around, I don't care if we lose a micro brewery or two to the giants. As long as there's a market for interesting brews, someone will fill it.
posted by octothorpe at 11:27 AM on March 29, 2011


As long as there's a market for interesting brews...

Call me cynical. I am cynical. But I think that AB's main goal, in purchasing well-regarded microbreweries like Goose Island, is to scale them up, water them down, and put out beers that are just interesting enough to draw big numbers of drinkers away from the actual microbrew market.
posted by gurple at 11:30 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm still sad Elsinore Brewery closed ever since the mouse incident and hockey testing.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:31 AM on March 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull, I recall driving up to Toronto from Rochester to take the Upper Canada brewery tour back when they were still fairly new (mid-80s). They seemed very well funded for such a new brewery but I guess they felt the need to go public and that was the end of that. A shame.
posted by tommasz at 11:32 AM on March 29, 2011


Dogfish Head just cut distribution to several states because demand for their overpriced product has gotten too high for them to meet.

That sounds like an absolutely horrible position for a business to be in.

I guess that it does suck that established firms hold on to so much capital that they can simply purchase any up-and-coming competitor...but at the same time, the sheer number of awesome upstarts (some of which have been purchased, some which haven't) gives me good reason to be hopeful. New microbrews are starting all the time -- some are good, and flourish; some suck, and fail. Really, it's a great ecosystem for the evolutionary improvement of American beer, which I'd (controversially) argue is quickly exceeding the quality of European brews.

As long as we don't have macrobrewers pushing Coke/Pepsi-style exclusivity deals with local pubs, I'm not too concerned.

Even though the quality of micro-gone-macrobrew beer does occasionally go slightly downhill, it's still far better than the godawful mainline macrobrew products, and I certainly don't lament the fact that you can buy Blue Moon just about anywhere these days. Even AB's sideline Macro products like Killians or Bud American Lager are fairly decent.

On the other hand, I've always found Bud Light's "drinkability" ad campaign to be unintentionally hilarious, as "you can drink it and it won't kill you" is pretty much the best thing that can be said about Bud Light.

Yes. I was that guy in college who would slowly nurse a bottle or two of Hoegarden over the course of an evening, while everyone else was pounding back can after can of nasty light beer.
posted by schmod at 11:35 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sweet, I can now add Goose Island to my list of favorite microbrews along with Shocktop and Blue Moon.

I try to only drink craft brews, drinking them keeps them, and I love them.
posted by Felex at 11:37 AM on March 29, 2011


> Mcdonalds has owned Chipotle for a very long time and still the burritos taste yummy. there's room for crappy megacorps to own smaller, quality producers without ruining them

I have to be contrarian here and say that Chipotle is, in fact, incredibly bland and dull, the burritos are premium starch loads with some veggies and meat for flavoring - and it's one of the few chain stores where I can taste herbs like cilantro in the food. Even so, they're less likely to make me feel ill than most commodity fast-food, so when I'm in some desolate stripmall expanse with no mom-and-pop diner in sight, or on the rare occasion I'm craving a nominally-flavorful starch bomb, I'll eat at a Chipotle.

However, a restaurant can't qualify as good just because I can eat there without feeling poisoned.

As for Greg Hall, if I was a betting man, I'd wager his next venture is craft distilling.
posted by ardgedee at 11:39 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


When they get 'round to making Cock Ale do make a poste to the Blu.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:40 AM on March 29, 2011


As long as we don't have macrobrewers pushing Coke/Pepsi-style exclusivity deals with local pubs, I'm not too concerned.

You mean like this?
posted by jackflaps at 11:40 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bass and Boddy's are A-B beers? Please tell me they only have an import license, and not the keys to the kingdom.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:44 AM on March 29, 2011


But I think that AB's main goal, in purchasing well-regarded microbreweries like Goose Island, is to scale them up, water them down, and put out beers that are just interesting enough to draw big numbers of drinkers away from the actual microbrew market.

cf. Sam Adams
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:47 AM on March 29, 2011


I keep trying to find something that doesn't suck about this news.

An attempt at the positive.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It makes me respect other small breweries, like D.G. Yuengling, who have refused to sell out, even when doing so means that they're permanently staying a regional producer.

Yuengling is so ubiquitous in PA that if you want a Yuengling, you ask for a lager.
posted by electroboy at 11:59 AM on March 29, 2011


cf. Sam Adams

I know lots of people really hate BBC, but Noble Pils is just about the only domestic pilsner I can get on tap around here and, frankly, it's really good. I wish they'd make it year-round so I could drink it all summer long.

Would I rather drink Prima Pils? Yes. Do I want to pay $11+ for a six-pack? No.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:03 PM on March 29, 2011


Yes. I was that guy in college who would slowly nurse a bottle or two of Hoegarden over the course of an evening, while everyone else was pounding back can after can of nasty light beer.

One time I got mocked for being that guy. I was drinking one of my favorite beers, Bell's Expedition Stout with some friends who were drinking Natural Light. I got the usual noise about how I only had three and they were on beer number 14.

So I laid down the gauntlet. We'd each get a six-pack of Expedition. I would pay them back for the beer if they could finish a sixer of it without puking. Conversely, if they couldn't finish the sixer, they had to pay me $10. None of them made it past beer number five. I collected my $40, took their remaining bottles and bid them adieu.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:04 PM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dogfish Head just cut distribution to several states

Recently I've been seeing them sold in the Amtrak cafe cars. I assume Joe Biden gets credit for that somehow.
posted by yarrow at 12:16 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know lots of people really hate BBC, but Noble Pils is just about the only domestic pilsner I can get on tap around here and, frankly, it's really good. I wish they'd make it year-round so I could drink it all summer long.

Amen... Noble Pils is just plain good beer. Sam Adams' varieties can be hit or miss and I guess Boston Beer Company is a big evil megabrewery compared to scrappy local microbrewers, but they started out small too. From everything I've read Jim Koch is a stand-up guy. During the hops shortage a couple of years ago he made some of BBC's hops available at cost to microbreweries who were having trouble finding them elsewhere.

Also: BBC (Boston Beer Company) not to be confused with BBC (Berkshire Brewing Company). Mmmm, Steel Rail Pale Ale.
posted by usonian at 12:19 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every time InBevAB gets bigger, more local former-drinkers-of-Budweiser (blue collar guys) turn to the largest *locally-owned* St. Louis brewery, Schlafly. Fine by me.
posted by notsnot at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2011


I think this is definitely a part of the war in Chicago for taps in the bars.

Goose Island has decent distribution but for people in the upper Midwest that had access to Surly, Bells, Summit, Capital, Schell's, etc it was always a bench warmer. And now it will go down hill just as Redhook did when it sold out to AB. If you want a really bad example look at Leinenkugel. When Miller bought that, the Leinenkugel brothers swore it would make no difference in quality. Bullshit, you could taste the difference in about a month. Now they have better distribution, more flavors, and more sales than ever. But the beers they are making are all wretched, chemical-drenched piss. It's become beer for people who like to think they're drinking a micro but can't stand the idea of beer having any flavor other than a chemical afterburn.
posted by Ber at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Amen... Noble Pils is just plain good beer.

Count me in as another person who was utterly shocked at how much better Sam Adams's Noble Pils is than the rest of their beers. I had it for the first time at Medieval Times, merely because it was the best of a bunch of bad options, but upon realizing it was actually pretty great, I ended up ordering a whole bunch. There's a lot about that evening I have subsequently forgotten, including why I bought one of those pennants to wave while rooting for my knight.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:26 PM on March 29, 2011


Oh, and Shock Top is pretty terrible beer too.
posted by Ber at 12:28 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It makes me respect other small breweries, like D.G. Yuengling, who have refused to sell out, even when doing so means that they're permanently staying a regional producer.

Yuengling is so ubiquitous in PA that if you want a Yuengling, you ask for a lager.


Yeah. It's always amusing to tell PA/NJ/NY/VA people that Yuengling is a small, privately-owned brewery, and to watch their shock and amazement. It's ubiquitous in these states, to the extent that most people assume it's an AB or Coors product.

(It's also not great, although it is still unquestionably the best cheap beer available at the supermarket.)
posted by schmod at 12:32 PM on March 29, 2011


(It's also not great, although it is still unquestionably the best cheap beer available at the supermarket.)

It's the cheap beer you can bring to a party without feeling like a dick.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:35 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I just had the Noble Pils for the first time the other day- Wow! It's a shame that its a seasonal. BBC's seasonal's have always been much better offerings than their regular line up. I still enjoy the Winter Lager and Fezziwig.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:45 PM on March 29, 2011


Further, Chipotle had to fend off McDonald's from trying to change the menu.

According to the link, McDonald's suggested adding coffee and cookies, which Chipotle's owner refused. Not the biggest dust-up in the world.
posted by scrowdid at 12:47 PM on March 29, 2011


Oh man maybe I shoulda bought that case of Noble Pils on sale at rite aid after all. The last time I had a Sam Adams beer, I wondered if my tastes had changed or if it had declined in quality.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 12:48 PM on March 29, 2011


Also: BBC (Boston Beer Company) not to be confused with BBC (Berkshire Brewing Company). Mmmm, Steel Rail Pale Ale.

Nor to be confused with BBC (Bluegrass Brewing Co.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:50 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's the cheap beer you can bring to a party without feeling like a dick.

It's sort of the default party beer around here if you don't know what people like. Generally people into micros will drink it without complaining and people used to Bud/Coors/Miller will also.
posted by octothorpe at 1:00 PM on March 29, 2011


He who controls the wholesalers controls the universe.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:06 PM on March 29, 2011


Fascinating thread for someone on the other side of the pond. Bookmarked for reference on future trips to the States. Now if you'll excuse me I have a bottle of Warsteiner in the fridge, and I'm suddenly very thirsty...
posted by athenian at 1:11 PM on March 29, 2011


I will still never forgive AB for buying Henry Weinhards.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:18 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Noble Pils, ugh... I have 10 left from a 12 pack. I absolutely can't stand, and can't give it away. I'd much rather have Victory's Saaz if I'm going for a Pilsner.

As for DFH, I don't necessarily see them cutting back on their distribution as a bad thing, unless you live in one of the affected states. DFH recently doubled their production line, and demand quickly out-stripped their increased capacity. It would be a risk for the company to borrow again to double production again in such a short period of time. Sam Calagione the founder has said before he would rather grow the business slowly and responsibly than to charge ahead and risk ruining the reputation of his beers. This decision isn't the one likely to make the most money the quickest, but probably is best for quality control. I imagine we'll see that if demand continues to run high for their product they'll be able to pay down the debt from their last expansion and up capacity at their plant.

Also, IIRC, DFH is a privately held company with very few outside investors, and nearly all the shares being held by employees and the Calagione family.
posted by nulledge at 1:19 PM on March 29, 2011


Regarding Dogfish, they've made it pretty clear that they could sell-out and blow the place wide-open into a 60 Minute IPA factory if they wanted to, but they don't want to. I think some of their big bottle experiments are delicious and others are awful, but I really admire the level to which they've taken their commitment to experimentation.

Regarding Jim Koch and Boston Beer Co., Jim comes across like kind of a dick in "Beer Wars" but I've met him and he's one of the nicest people I've ever talked to. He told me about brewing the very first batch of Boston Lager in his shitty apartment. He's very rich and (around here at least) pretty famous, but 30 seconds with the guy and it's totally obvious that he is still really, really excited to be making beer. I've outgrown most of the Sam Adams collection, but it's still a beer I can order in a pinch and know is going to be decent. And yes, the hops story is true to my knowledge.
posted by rollbiz at 1:25 PM on March 29, 2011


Half a story about Dogfish Head: last year (or the year before?) we took a road trip down to Virginia and spent a night in Rehoboth on the way. This was the off-season, April, so the brewpub was pretty deserted. We had dinner there, and of course a few beers, went for a walk, and came back for a couple more beers before bed.

I noticed that we had been hearing an unlikely amount of REM, mostly deep cuts from the early albums. So I asked the bartender what the deal with all the REM was. He rolled his eyes and said, "You know the owner? It's his iPod, he puts the music on, he loves this weird shit."

(We actually ran into Sam at the brewery earlier in the day; he appeared to be giving a private tour to some publicans or distributors. He is every bit as good-looking in person.)

I actually think REM are pretty great.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:35 PM on March 29, 2011


DFH changes can be directly traced to Brewmasters, which increased their visibility. I've been there twice and both times there was construction going on, adding capacity. I spoke with their local rep and she told me that they weren't even pouring beer at local festivals as they had all the business they could reasonably handle. Why isn't anyone commenting on ABs share of Pyramid Brewing? I'm enjoying a Troegs Nugget Nectar as I type this.
posted by fixedgear at 1:39 PM on March 29, 2011


Good one uncleozzy, it reminds me about six months ago. I was having a pint with an old roommate, his mom calls him to tell him that she had received a call from an old student of hers and that he was going to be on TV talking about beers. The old roommate pressed the issue and found out she was talking about Sam Calagione and Brew Masters, he was shocked that she knew him. His mom on the other hand was surprised that he didn't remember Sam coming around the house they had in Mass. to hang out with one of his brothers.
posted by nulledge at 1:41 PM on March 29, 2011


I'm enjoying a Troegs Nugget Nectar as I type this.

Oh. Man. We don't see much Troegs on tap around here, but a friend of mine runs a bar and clued me in that he'd be tapping the Nugget Nectar one night a few weeks ago. I drank an altogether unwise amount of it, but I have no regrets, because it was kicked before the next time I was in there.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:46 PM on March 29, 2011


From reading the blurb I was afraid that Deschutes would turn out to be part of the A-B empire, but I didn't see it on the list. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

I did cringe to see Kona listed under the Craft Brewer's Alliance, but so was Goose Island and I'm guessing that this was before this news, so hopefully that doesn't count as true ownership.

tl;dr: can I still drink Deschutes Black Butte and Kona Pipeline and be a good person?

I'd have a hard time being a good person if it means drinking IPA, which seems to get all the microbrewer love.
posted by bjrubble at 2:08 PM on March 29, 2011


I don't mind big brewers buying micros and releasing more diverse styles of beer. I'm not anti-big business. I'm anti bad beer that all tastes the same.

When Hoegaarden was bought out, we got Celis White.

I'd like to be able to buy a good hefeweizen or IPA that doesn't cost thirty bucks or more a case someday.

Budweiser is good. It's tasty and refreshing and consistent. Beers of that style are produced in every country on Earth because people like them, and Bud is one of the better examples.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:21 PM on March 29, 2011


Yuengling is expanding at a slow and deliberate pace, they will be national some day, on their own terms.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:22 PM on March 29, 2011


Bud is one of the better examples.

I would completely disagree with that part of your statement. A-B makes many of the world's worst beers. What they do have is one of the world's best marketing departments.

Ratebeer has their 50 Worst Beer list. 6 of the 10 worst are A-B products. A-B and MillerCoors/Molson combined account for 41 of the 50 worst.

What's really telling with A-B has been their inability to make a high end, high scoring beer. The Budweiser American Ale isn't terrible, but it scores in the 27th percentile on RateBeer, 24th percentile for the style (Amber Ale).
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:05 PM on March 29, 2011


Boys, boys.

There's a bottle-o up the road from my place (bottle-o being "liquor store" in lingua americana). I go in there...regularly...and every time I go in, the beer fridges are carrying at least three or four brand new lines of microbrew, local and imported both. In a lifetime with an unlimited budget I'll never try them all (because they are obscenely expensive, which is why I stick with Coopers Vintage (one of Australia's best mass-produced beers) or 3 Ravens Dark Smoke (possibly my favourite Australian beer ever).

Would I be sad if either of those brewers suddenly got taken over by jerks who wouldn't know a good beer if they choked to death on it, for example the assholes who make Foster's, and for whom I worked for 3 months and have nothing but scorn to pour upon? Sure. For about eleven seconds, until I tried a bunch more of the beers on the shelf and found a new-new favourite.

And this is a country with a total population roughly equivalent to that of New York. We have beautiful craft beers up to our eyeballs. In fact I am getting a little bored with the surfeit of choice. But what I'm saying is, you've got a bunch of breweries over there, both micro and macro, and even if your top twenty favourite drops were suddenly rendered extinct, you'd have a fun few weeks ahead of you as your sampled your way through the other seventy-eight thousand to find a fresh top 20.

So quit ya moanin'!
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:14 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Bud/Miller/Coors for the same reason most people like it: Because it's cheap and gets me buzzed and because not everyone can afford fancy micros.

Many self-proclaimed beer snobs do not get this. And I think their blatant disappointment that stems from a favorite micro getting bought out by an A-B is pretty telling: That many of them just enjoy the cultural capital that comes with being able to say that they "appreciate good micro-brewed beer"...you know not that PISS WATER that the poor people drink.
posted by windbox at 3:27 PM on March 29, 2011


Cheap and buzzed

Someday you'll look back and say: "What was I thinking?"
posted by mygoditsbob at 3:39 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


For me when it comes to cheap beer: Tecate>Simpler Times lager>PBR>Bud/Miller/Coors. I've heard Tecate is not a cheaper than water beer in environs further east, though.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like Bud/Miller/Coors for the same reason most people like it: Because it's cheap and gets me buzzed and because not everyone can afford fancy micros.

I feel like I'm going to be crucified for this, but that's what PBR is for. It's got to be the least offensive tasting of any cheap American beer I've had (cheap Canadian beers aren't much better, but there's a few super-cheapo micro brews here in BC like Hell's Gate and Bowen Island that are actually passable). And as I discovered in high school when I didn't like beer, had no money, and wanted to get buzzed, PBR has no aftertaste at all. Like a minute later you're thinking "did I just imagine I drank that, or was that for real?" Bud, Miller, and Coors for me are watery not-beers with few if any redeeming qualities.
posted by Hoopo at 3:54 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


mandymanwasregistered: "For me when it comes to cheap beer: Tecate>Simpler Times lager>PBR>Bud/Miller/Coors. I've heard Tecate is not a cheaper than water beer in environs further east, though."

Tecate got a very high rating in The Beer Trials FWIW.
posted by mkb at 4:06 PM on March 29, 2011


tumid dahlia,

Yes, but you still have to live in Australia.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:20 PM on March 29, 2011


Yeah, since moving to Los Angeles I've consumed my share of Tecate. Simpler Times lager from Trader Joe's (I guess it's Huber in a different can) is also well worth its $3/six pack price. I like the fancy craft brews too, but our budget is not large enough to match our beer consumption to allow the good stuff all of the time. This is especially true since red wine started making my head hurt and speicus has yet to develop a taste for cheap white wine.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:28 PM on March 29, 2011


AB has to be very, very good at quality control as consistency is the one and only identifiable attribute in a Bud.

There's a joke there somewhere about the water and the Clydesdales.

Fascinating thread for someone on the other side of the pond. Bookmarked for reference on future trips to the States.

Put and askmefi post with your probable destinations when you come. You will get a pleasant earful.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:45 PM on March 29, 2011


Noble Pils, ugh... I have 10 left from a 12 pack. I absolutely can't stand, and can't give it away.

Live in DC? I'd take it.
posted by inigo2 at 4:56 PM on March 29, 2011


"which is why I stick with Coopers Vintage"

There was a month or so where one of the Bristol Farms around here was selling liters of Coopers porter for a buck a piece, and when I was checking out I felt like I was shoplifting. Unfortunately, once they ran out of their stock, I never saw them again. Which is deeply sad.
posted by klangklangston at 4:58 PM on March 29, 2011


Yes, but you still have to live in Australia.

Hence the drinking, duh.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:07 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Bud/Miller/Coors for the same reason most people like it: Because it's cheap and gets me buzzed and because not everyone can afford fancy micros.

I drink one or two beers in an evening so price isn't really a factor. If you're in it for the maximum buzz your calculations are probably different.
posted by octothorpe at 5:29 PM on March 29, 2011


Ah klang, I remember that time well. It was the cheapest thing in that overpriced store.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:33 PM on March 29, 2011


The golden goose flew away and the townspeople were saddened. All retreated to the quiet. The tavern stools are dusty. Tumbleweeds roll down the streets and avenues. The celebrations have no home.

From the northeast.. a golden truck appears. People run to the streets when they hear the noise. What lies in this salvation? Is it the sound of clydesdale hooves they're responding to? No, my friend... a much better miracle. Tis the sound of bells ringing. And yes, the people did rejoice.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:00 PM on March 29, 2011


Though A-B picking off smaller breweries is generally cause for alarm, Goose Island beer is already bland, boring, and overrated.

Thankfully, yes, we have Piece, Two Brothers, and Metropolitan!
posted by asuprenant at 6:22 PM on March 29, 2011


I like Bud/Miller/Coors for the same reason most people like it: Because it's cheap and gets me buzzed and because not everyone can afford fancy micros.

Many self-proclaimed beer snobs do not get this.


This is what PBR is for. Or Schlitz. Or Yeungling, which I wish would come to New England. Or my personal favorite, Narragansett, if you live in New England. I'm sure there are others within the Northeast and outside of it, wherever it is that you live.

And you know what? In addition to tasting much better, these beers are CHEAPER than Bud/Miller/Coors in almost every case. The fact is this: People don't drink Bud/Miller/Coors because it's cheap and gets them buzzed. You could drink any of the things I mentioned, or if your REALLY looking to save dough, go with St. Ides or Wild Irish Rose or Mad Dog 20/20 or any number of other bottom shelf things for that.

People drink Bud/Miller/Coors because it's somewhat cheap, gets them buzzed, and because they have been convinced to stick with their brand by said zillion dollar ad campaigns. People drink Bud/Miller/Coors because they spend a zillion dollars in ad money to convince you that their Clydesdales are better than the others big-breasted twins or whatever.

Many people who unnecessarily defend shitty and somewhat-expensive Bud/Miller/Coors products do not get this.
posted by rollbiz at 6:37 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]



Ratebeer has their 50 Worst Beer list. 6 of the 10 worst are A-B products. A-B and MillerCoors/Molson combined account for 41 of the 50 worst.

What's really telling with A-B has been their inability to make a high end, high scoring beer. The Budweiser American Ale isn't terrible, but it scores in the 27th percentile on RateBeer, 24th percentile for the style (Amber Ale).


The beer snobs on those sites do not objectively review products from big breweries.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:39 PM on March 29, 2011


Yuengling costs more than Bud, even in PA.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:40 PM on March 29, 2011


I can't speak for Yeungling because I can't buy it here in MA, but I can tell you with certainty that 'Gansett, PBR, and Schlitz are all cheaper than Bud. I can also say that when I lived on the CT/NY border, Yeungling was much cheaper than Bud in NY.
posted by rollbiz at 6:47 PM on March 29, 2011


Oh and...

The beer snobs on those sites do not objectively review products from big breweries.


Agreed, but it's still corn and water bullshit and it's still worse than most macros that aren't made by Bud/Miller/Coors.
posted by rollbiz at 6:48 PM on March 29, 2011


Bud uses rice instead of corn, it's what keeps the flavor more neutral.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:53 PM on March 29, 2011


Yuengling costs more than Bud, even in PA.

Two quick looks seem to refute this.

Montgomery Distributors:


12OZ BOTTLES

YUENGLING $19.85
BUD $20.35

SaveMor:

YUENGLING 24pk $14.99
BUD 24pk. $14.99
posted by rollbiz at 6:58 PM on March 29, 2011


It can vary by the distributor, but it isn't my experience in general that Yuengling is not a few bucks more.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 PM on March 29, 2011


Bud is not all that cheap a beer. But Schaefer is.
posted by postcommunism at 7:37 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It can vary by the distributor, but it isn't my experience in general that Yuengling is not a few bucks more.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:12 PM


That's certainly possible, which is why I'm again waiting to see where you back up your claim.

I didn't cherry pick, I just picked the first two PA distributors with a website. Here's your second chance to prove your point, given that it's central to the argument we've been having at the end of this thread...
posted by rollbiz at 7:44 PM on March 29, 2011


Bud is not all that cheap a beer. But Schaefer is.

I've mentioned this before on MeFi, but we did a blind cheap-beer-taste-test last summer, and Schaefer came out on top by a shockingly wide margin. It's a great value, and easily as "good" as Bud.

(Also, for what it's worth, Bud and Yuengling both go for about $9.99 a 12-pack around here. You can't generally buy Yuengling in larger quantities, though, so Bud is cheaper in volume.)
posted by uncleozzy at 5:26 AM on March 30, 2011


Brings to mind the scorpion joke. Of course A-B wants to make this work - they could have made some pseudo-craft much cheaper and they are not eliminating any meaningful competition by this deal.

But can they help themselves?
posted by hawthorne at 6:28 AM on March 30, 2011


Picked up a "Family Pack" of Shiner this weekend past so I could see what something other than their Bock tastes like. Turns out that everything that Shiner has (that I tasted) tastes the same. Pity.

Long story short, it reminded me of Dominion (now a division of ImBev). Used to be some good stuff but now it all tastes the same. My wife brought home a 12-pack of their 'mixed' beers for a party and she got to witness me dumping a bottle into the sink. Not because it tasted bad but because it had no taste (apologies to Charlie Tuna). (I've still eight bottles of mixed that I might use for beer-butt chicken - or to put out a fire.)

Every time ImBev buys or invests in a brewery, an angel loses its wings.

RIP, Goose Island. The quality may not change but, alas, I'll never know since I won't drink it.
posted by Man with Lantern at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2011


Bud/Yuengling is usually about the same most places I go. $2 per pint or so. Bud probably is cheaper if you're buying a 30 pack, but not by much.

I did, however, once go to a bar where they tried to charge me $4 for a Yuengling "because it's a microbrew". We all had a good laugh about that one.
posted by electroboy at 10:33 AM on March 30, 2011


There are a fair number of bars which will advertise "$2 Domestics" but then claim that Yuengling or Sam Adams (or sometimes even PBR) isn't "domestic."

And people wonder why American beer has such a bad reputation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:26 AM on March 30, 2011


Bourdain is tweeting that A/B is pressuring Discovery to not air Brewmasters. No Reservations and Brewmasters share the same production company. Miller-Coors advertised their stealth brand Blue Moon on the show last season.
posted by fixedgear at 1:14 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


But what I'm saying is, you've got a bunch of breweries over there, both micro and macro, and even if your top twenty favourite drops were suddenly rendered extinct, you'd have a fun few weeks ahead of you as your sampled your way through the other seventy-eight thousand to find a fresh top 20.

Tumid Dahlia, you're neglecting the fact that we have a screwed up distribution system for beer in the US that drastically limits the variety of beer in any given location. I wish I could get seventy eight thousand different kinds of beer in LA. Instead, there are thirty or so US beers at Bevmo, and less at the supermarket (not counting the various A-B beers). I've only tried Goose Island once, when I was in Chicago. I've never seen it for sale in Los Angeles.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2011


Damn.

.

Just tried their Dominique for the first time last night, too. A very interesting beer... but not long for this world, apparently.
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 1:46 PM on March 30, 2011


Just stocked up the cellar with a couple four-bottle cartons of Bourbon County. That should be enough for a long while.

Even if Goose Island stays totally untouched and our worst fears are unfounded, the change of ownership will probably mean a change of distributor, and a change of distributor means Goose Island products are going to disappear from this state for a few years.

(I don't know the exact reason why this is so where I live now, but I once spent an afternoon chatting with a beer distributor operating in Pennsylvania, who explained that yanking brands from store shelves when beers get new distribution contracts is how beer distributors work at screwing each other over.)
posted by ardgedee at 6:48 PM on March 30, 2011


ardgedee: "(I don't know the exact reason why this is so where I live now, but I once spent an afternoon chatting with a beer distributor operating in Pennsylvania, who explained that yanking brands from store shelves when beers get new distribution contracts is how beer distributors work at screwing each other over.)"

Bear in mind that the legal situation for beer sales in PA are...regrettably complex.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:01 PM on March 30, 2011


ardgedee: "Even if Goose Island stays totally untouched and our worst fears are unfounded, the change of ownership will probably mean a change of distributor, and a change of distributor means Goose Island products are going to disappear from this state for a few years."

Really? I thought A-B was already Goose Island's distribution partner and I don't see why that would change.
posted by mkb at 7:30 AM on March 31, 2011



I didn't cherry pick, I just picked the first two PA distributors with a website. Here's your second chance to prove your point, given that it's central to the argument we've been having at the end of this thread...


These are tavern prices from the wholesale distributors for my area (Philly burbs), it's a mixed bag. As I said, distributors vary. It probably isn't safe to say either is cheaper than the other in general. In my experience though, at retail Lager goes for more because it is more popular than Bud around here. I've bought a lot of both.

Origlio Beverage:

Yuengling Lager 12oz Can: $17.15

Gretz Beer Company:

Bud 12oz Can: $17.90

Banko Distributing Co.:

Bud 12oz Can: $19.25
Yuengling 12oz can: $18.25
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:26 AM on March 31, 2011


> Really? I thought A-B was already Goose Island's distribution partner and I don't see why that would change.

I just looked it up, and where I live, Goose Island and Annheuser-Busch are handled by different distributors. YMMV.
posted by ardgedee at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2011



Goose Island brewmaster red-faced after bar party

A celebratory Greg Hall drinks too much of his own product. I think the bartender is a bit of a weenie to go to the press with this
posted by readery at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2011


Yeah, his apologies sounded pretty sincere in print. I feel like they could have worked it out without the press.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:36 AM on April 12, 2011


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