Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chairman of craft brewing association says merger could hurt smaller brewers

No surprise here, as more than three-quarters of the beer sold in this country is now controlled by two companies.

[Brewers Association Board of Directors Chairman Rich Doyle] said most independent beer distributors in the U.S. have a contractual arrangement with one of the big brewing companies. He said that as those companies gain clout, small craft brewers worry they could be squeezed out by the big conglomerates if they provide financial incentives to the distributors to focus on their big-name beers.

“The small brewers are concerned that these contracts will be even more constraining on the somewhat independent wholesalers to be able to handle products like ours,” Doyle said. “Ultimately, this is about the consumer having access to the brands they want and the choice they want.”

Doyle said one potential benefit could occur if federal antitrust regulators take a hard look at the beer industry as they review the proposed merger and decide that distribution channels need to be more readily available for craft brewers.

Read the whole story at the Patriot Ledger.

How can you help to counteract Doyle's concerns? Go to your retailers, stores, bars, and restaurants and demand that they carry the beers that you want to drink. Customers' dollars speak louder than top-down marketing pressures. Support your local brewery!

This reminds me of something that happened right after the deal was announced: I'm sitting at our bar, catching up on my typing and having a beer after lunch. There was a table of three or four guys sitting at a table, in full view of our fermenters and drinking my beers, and one of them says, "That's it. That's the last of the American breweries." (Can I just emphasize that he was in full view of our fermenters at the time?) I pointed out to him that there are some fifteen hundred breweries in America, including the one he was sitting in.

So don't let people get away with this "last American brewery" crap. Tell them there's a whole world of beer in this country. And besides, Budweiser won't be going away any time soon.

No comments: