Craft breweries and craft beer have taken the world by storm lately. Craft beer has become so popular that one of the best-selling Christmas gifts in the United States is a homebrew kit, complete with a flask, hops, and directions for creating your own beer masterpiece at home. It seems that everyone is a craft brew enthusiast, and many people are happy to spend more than a few bucks on a single beer to experience the novelty and innovation associated with craft beer. So many major restaurants and liquor stores have wizened up to this trend, and are now providing craft brews in their facilities to satiate the public’s thirst for the new and unique flavors that craft beers have to offer. It’s not just the restaurants and sellers that are catching the drift, and “Big Beer” has taken notice of the not-so-subtle growth of craft brew in the United States. Because of this, companies like Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller, and Heineken have begun to plan their “war against microbreweries.”
Craft Beer As a Threat
It’s quite amazing how something that so many people consider to be a fad can be such a huge threat to large companies like Anheuser-Busch. In fact, craft brews have taken over the beer market, and are responsible for nearly 17 times more sales than “general” beers that have been on the market for years. Craft breweries and brew lovers do not claim that they’re intending to take over the “Big Beer” market, but they are merely filling a void that these companies do not provide- unique beer and almost a cult-like atmosphere. Because this is something that a mass-marketed beverage can provide (because nobody cares about the hops or gravity of Coors Light), these “Big Beer” companies have actually started a proxy war with craft breweries around the U.S.
“Big Beer” in Big Trouble?
While it’s hard to believe that companies like Anheuser-Busch would be scared of little old breweries like Lagunitas or Stone Brewing, the reality is that they are. Even though 30 percent of the market is attributed to Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller, these companies are genuinely concerned about the remaining majority that these small craft breweries could take over. For this reason, many large companies are actually making an effort to buy up small, popular craft breweries and make them mass-produced and mass-distributed through their factories and methods. This changes the craft brew game, obviously, and many hardcore enthusiasts (snobs) would turn their nose up at the loss of authenticity in the brand name. There is even a plan to buy up popular craft brews in distribution chains, making it hard for the public to have access to these delicious beers. Hard to believe that large companies would play so dirty, right? Another disturbing fact is that Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller control the distribution chain, making it possible for large distribution and trucking companies to refuse to transport craft brew products if larger companies like AB and SAB back out of their contracts with these companies. It’s literally a Beer Battle to death; who will win?