Why I Won’t Be Standing In Line For Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Next Week
For years, craft beer fans have looked forward to Black Friday . . . but it has nothing to do with cheap TVs or getting the “must-have” toy of the year.
Nope, they were excited to get their hands on Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout.
For those that don’t know, this is a high alcohol stout that’s been aged in bourbon barrels. It is a limited release beer that in in such demand that people line up to get it. It’s released the day after Thanksgiving each year.
And while I am a huge craft beer fan, I won’t be lining up to get Goose Island’s most wanted brew. That’s because I believe that Goose Island is preventing real choice in the beer market.
Goose Island was purchased by Anheuser-Busch in 2011. This purchase started a series of independent breweries being bought by large corporate breweries.
While it seemed like “normal” business at the time, what we’ve come to see is acquisitions like this are detrimental to the craft beer industry. Large breweries like Anheuser-Busch have had their marketshare threatened by the increase in craft beer popularity. So to thwart this, they started buying craft breweries.
Once purchased, the small brewery’s products are scaled and mass produced. Then they use their influence and reach to put that brewery on retail shelves across the nation.
While this sounds great from their perspective, the reality is retail space is limited. When Anheuser-Busch increases the number of brands they own on grocery store shelves, it limits the room for other brands. That means your local and regional breweries have less space for their beer.
And when it’s time for someone to get forced out, it won’t be the 800 lb gorilla (aka big beer brands).
This is a huge deal; most of the beer purchased in America is at grocery stores. So if the majority of the beer offered there is owned by “big beer” then that is what the average consumer will buy.
And most won’t even know they are buying beer from a large corporation because the branding looks like it’s craft; because it once was. But most wouldn’t care about who owns it. They just want to drink beer.
So what does this have to do with Bourbon County Brand Stout?
I do my best to support local craft beer first. If I drink craft beer from outside my area, I try to ensure it’s from an independently owned brewery.
I avoid brands owned by corporate beer because buying their beer will only increase their ability to restrict options in the future. They now have a handful of different brands that appear to be from different breweries but they own all of it. It’s great marketing but I don’t think it’s good for the consumer.
Their goal is to monopolize the craft beer shelf space and I’m not ok with that. I want real choice because that is what drives competition and innovation.
We’ve gone decades with the same light beer options; craft beer is changing that but only if we support those that are truly driving new styles into the market.
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