Does it matter to you where your “beer money” goes?
Do you care if the bottle or can of beer you're about to buy, the label on which looks and sounds crafty, is in fact fully or partially owned by a gargantuan, multi-headed foreign conglomerate?
Do you hope and believe that by buying that “crafty” beverage you’re supporting local jobs? Local “Mom and Pops?” Local values? Local non-profits?
Do you “vote with your dollars” and try to make choices that favor the homegrown Davids against the corporate Goliaths?
Would your “vote” change if you knew that a chunk of your money was headed off shore to consortiums of faceless, nameless, hyphenated entities with ticker-tapish names a mile long?
Have you ever sat down at a bar next to a stranger who waxed on about how much he loves craft beers like Shock Top or Blue Moon? Or been to a party where honest and intelligent friends happily shared bottles of their favorite crafts like Sculpin, Joe, SuperFuzz or Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’?
Did you ever correct them, pointing out that each of those beers above were actually made by former crafties who are now wholly or partially owned subsidiaries? And the true owner is an inbred cash-thirsty giant that collects crafts like trophies, toys, or cash cows?
Did you “correct the record” to explain and educate that each of these beers, while tasty and even organically inspired, have been gobbled up by a cadre of multi-national corporate monsters? Each now firmly lodged in the digestive tract of a Leviathan who just ate a Godzilla which had just snacked on a Goliath?
Or did you just let it go? But feel bad about it later?
In short, does truth in advertising matter to you? Would you or your friends vote differently if you knew where your money went? Would you make different choices if you knew your money went offshore? Or stayed in country but wound up enriching a consortium on the East Coast? Are you okay with being bamboozled?
The Feds don't’ require transparency. A Magic Hat, Goose Island or Golden Road is not required to disclose on it’s can or bottle who owns it. It’s fair to say most consumers believe once craft, always craft. We assume that when we buy a Hefe, Hop Stoopid, Dirty Bastard or Longboard Lager all the money goes to Widmer, Lagunitas, Founders or Kona, respectively. But each of these once homegrown breweries are now partially owned by an Alien Nation.
Is this fine with you? The beer still tastes great. The vibe is still edgy or homespun. And the prices seem consistent within their category (except for Sculpin - bejeezus!!). But what about the future? Capitalists will tell you they love competition. But we know what they truly love is the lack of competition, ie, a monopoly.
Monopoly. A malignant bloody evil that strangles innovation, fixes or jacks up prices, spawns big box blandness, perpetuates “good old boy” pay-to-play phoniness, cripples independence, feeds the beast, controls every transaction from the farm to the tap, and crushes the little guy who’s got a big heart and a great recipe but simply can’t afford to play against the jack-booted dreamcrushers in a rigged game.
If this stuff bothers you, read on. Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer, is an entrepreneur-poet who puts his money where his mouth is. He recently wrote an essay,”Is it Last Call for Craft Beer?” in the New York Times. He worries about the consolidation of breweries and distributors and so should you. Those “cute-sounding” crafties may be double agents whose silent mission is to undermine the craft movement.
Buyer beware. Fake craft is proliferating. The Feds who blithely rubber stamp competition-killing corporate mergers can’t be counted on to require transparency in labeling. The Man, we know, is sneaky. He hides behind his friendly craft copper tanks and belovedly bearded “human shields.” He secretes himself behind a veil of "entities" whose relentless mission is not craft beer but pseudo-craft cash.
To avoid lining The Vast Heartless Entity's deep off-shore pockets with your hard earned money, you’re going to have to arm yourself with the facts. Is that irreverent or homespun brand really craft? Is it really locally owned? Take a look here at 32 former crafts who sold out to The Corporate Beast-Man - and there's more (see the column to the right).
I can tell you this. Worthy will NEVER EVER sell out. We're not owned by a bank or cadre of Wall Street investors, or a foreign holding company that collects former crafties like your gutless big game hunter collects exotic mounts on a wall. We're owned by a kid from Corvallis, the son of a U.S. Marine, boxer, Ph.D and union organizer who taught me to go hard, give back and never sell your soul.
Foreign Owned Fake Craft
10 Barrel - AB InBev
Blue Point- AB InBev
Breckenridge - AB InBev
Boulevard - Duvel
Devils Backbone - AB InBev
Elysian - AB InBev
Firestone Walker - Duvel
Founders - 30 % Mahou-San Miguel
Four Peaks - AB InBev
Golden Road - AB InBev
Goose Island - AB InBev
Hop Valley - MillerCoors
Kona Brewing - 32 % AB InBev
Karbach - AB InBev
Lagunitas - 50% Heineken
Leinenkugel's - MolsenCoors
Mad Hat - Cerveceria Costa Rica, S.A.
MacTarnahan's - Cerveceria C.R., S.A
Ommegang - Duvel
Pyramid - Cerveceria Costa Rica, S.A
Redhook - 32 % AB InBev
Revolver - MolsenCoors
Saint Archer - MolsenCoors
Terrapin - MolsenCoors
Widmer - 32 % AB InBev
*ABInBev/SAB Miller owns
400 breweries worldwide. Like The Terminator, it will not stop.
More American Icons Who Sold Out
Shell Oil (Dutch)
Gerber Baby Food (Switzerland)
Firestone tires (Japan)
Holiday Inn (UK)
Trader Joe.s (German)
Church's Fried Chicken (Bahrain)
The Plaza at Central Park (Israel)
French's Mustard (UK)
Ben & Jerry's (UK-Dutch)
Good Humor (UK-Dutch)
Citgo Gas (Venezuela)
Burger King (Brazil)
Lucky Strike (UK)
Pabst Blue Ribbon (Russia)
Starwood Hotels (China)
Smithfield Foods (China)
AMC Entertainment (China)
Motorola Mobile (China)
Alka Seltzer (Germany)