The end of craft beer?

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First Posted: 1/28/2015

On Jan. 23 the announcement was made that Elysian Brewing Company was sold to beer giant AB InBev, makers of beer such as Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and many others. This sale has marked the slow death of craft beer to many in the community.

But before we raise the proverbial white flag, begin wearing all black, and switch to wine coolers out of protest some breathing room should be allowed, along with some common sense. Namely the idea that a large brewery would buy a smaller one simply to bankrupt it is ludicrous.

While there is no disputing a definite lack of quality ingredients when comparing many macro brewed beers to our favorite craft beers. There is something to be said for a large cash injection into a smaller brewery to help produce more quality beers for the masses.

Case in point, Goose Island, who was also purchased by AB InBev, while some have complained about a difference with regards to some core beers that are being brewed at different locations, the higher end beers in their portfolio have stayed consistent and are now more widely available.

The brewery also now boasts one of the largest barrel aging rooms in the country which enables more Bourbon County Stout to be produced along with a growing line of world class sour beers. That buyout doesn’t sound too bad now does it?

The idea of buying local and supporting your local brewery is truer now more than ever, but it is easy to forget the simple fact that this is a business. The goal of any business or business owner is to make a profit and some may reach a point where they either wish to retire and enjoy the fruits of their labor or simply receive an offer that is too good to pass up, so the business is sold.

Craft beer has been on a steady incline in sales for nearly a decade now and it is unavoidable that a larger company would not take notice of this and make attempts to buy their way into this exciting growth.

Elysian has been brewing fantastic beers since 1995 with many highly rated beers on many rating websites. Upon the announcement many immediately declared the death of Elysian, but this does not take away from the successes the brewery has accomplished during their rise.

Even if by some unforeseen circumstances the brewery falls into disrepair from the deal and the quality does change dramatically, they still have been brewing phenomenal beers for a long time.

This is not a rant about the benefits of corporate America and how the public should ease up on their disdain for them, quite the opposite. However, it is a call to common sense and the need for more of it when dealing with matters such as corporate buyouts.

It is easy on the outside to throw stones at Elysian and use the dreaded “sell out” term to describe this move. However, just because a brewery or anything for that matter goes corporate does not mean the death of it. In fact, were The Ramones and the Sex Pistols not signed to major labels? Did this lessen the effect these bands had on culture? Absolutely not!

Whether you are a macro or micro beer drinker these corporate buyouts should be of interest as they cause many of the lines to blur in the general public’s eyes. This blurring is what greatly upsets many craft beer loyalists and with good reason. Many drink craft beer as a way to throw the proverbial middle finger to the “man.”

However, before we play Another One Bites the Dust for Elysian, let’s first see what the deal brings. If the quality remains high and there is more great beer available it is a win-win, if not than we move on and let the brewery quietly die, but let’s not kill it simply for succeeding before we see the results. The industry is always changing and it will continue to, so just sit back and enjoy a beer!