It seems like every week there is another news story about the ownership of a brewery changing. For those that are craft beer enthusiasts, we do our best to stay up to date but it can be nearly impossible. I attempted to find a comprehensive list but I couldn’t find a brewery who owns who list. So I decided to make one of my own. More on that later as well as a link to a complete list is at the end of this article.
For those that do not follow craft beer closely, brewery ownership isn’t even on the radar. Most follow the philosophy “if it’s good then I drink it”. While drinking good beer is important, I think there’s a lot more at play.
When you get into the details, you can start to see how these brewery purchases are about squeezing craft beer out of the market place and getting drinkers to pick up their “craft beer” instead of beer from an independent brewer.
Regardless of how you feel about big breweries buying craft breweries, it is critical to make sure you know who makes the beer that you are buying. The business of beer has gotten quite messy so it’s not easy to tell who owns who.
Why Ownership Matters
I would love to tell you to drink the beer you like regardless of who owns it but that isn’t good advice. The reality is large beer companies (AB InBev, MillerCoors, etc) are working hard to edge small craft breweries out of the market. They have lost some market share over the past few years and are trying to prevent loosing more.
They are doing this by buying craft breweries. And not just a few. These craft brewery purchases are all about buying companies that have the potential to expand and dominate the craft beer sector. They will do this by increasing production, lowering costs and increasing distribution while still marketing it as craft beer.
Their hope is the average craft beer consumer won’t recognize that these brands are owned by them. Their goal is to own every square inch of the retail shelf and tap handle; edging out your local and regional independent craft breweries.
On top of that, these large companies are actively lobbying for laws that make it hard for small breweries to be successful. That’s correct; they are working against craft beer to force small breweries out of the market.
So ownership matters. Yes, you should drink the beer you like but I urge to to make sure that beer is made by an independently owned brewery. And since most will be using the Independent Craft Brewer seal; it will be easier in the near future to make the right decision.
Related Post: Why The Independent Craft Brewer Seal Is Important
The only way to be sure you are buying “real” craft beer, you must educate yourself. That is easier said than done because there has been so much movement in this industry.
Even with all of my efforts; I can’t keep up. Just a few months ago, I purchased Golden Road beer only to find out later that they had been purchased by AB InBev. I drank the beer but wasn’t happy that I fell for the exact trick that they hope we will all fall for.
So to help everyone, I’ve created a list of all brewery sales and investments that I could find or think of.
Keep in mind that this list includes all purchases, investments, and mergers. Some of those are larger companies buying up independent breweries while others are independent breweries merging to form a larger company but remain independent. So just because they are on this list, it doesn’t mean I am saying to avoid their beer.
After you take a look at the list; contact me if you think I missed any. This list will be continually updated and available from the home page of this site so feel free to check back in on a regular basis.