The Indie Beer Business Is About to Boom

After a popular American craft brewer sold out to the “devil,” some are wondering if more mergers and acquisitions will inevitably follow. And what might that mean to the thriving, vehemently independent craft beer scene? The recent news that Boulevard Brewing Co., a beloved, well-respected beer maker based in Kansas City that’s grown into the 12th largest craft brewer in America, had been sold to a foreign company was met with groans of displeasure in craft beer circles. “Literally a deal with the ‘devil,’” one observer Tweeted after the sellout, referencing the new owner: Duvel, a Belgian brewer whose name is pronounced “doo-val,” meaning devil in Flemish. Beyond the name, many were upset that it was a foreign company buying a majority stake in a brewer based in America’s heartland. “It’s happened again. A Belgian company is taking over a Missouri brewery,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted. (Belgium-based InBev purchased St. Louis’s Anheuser-Busch in 2008, creating the biggest beer company in human history.) In many industries, such news wouldn’t cause any feathers to be ruffled. “Good for the hardworking owners who get to cash in,” might be the typical reaction. But because of the carefully crafted artisan approach and fiercely independent nature of most craft brewers, any selling out is likely to be greeted as, well, a sellout in the worst sense. As the craft beer scene has flourished and evolved, and industry giants have pressed into the market with so-called “crafty beers,” something of a pecking order has emerged, in which small, independent mom-and-pop operations are respected most of all—and huge global beer conglomerates are derided as “industrial” bullies who care about profits, not quality. (MORE: That Craft Beer You’re Drinking Isn’t Craft Beer. Do You Care?) Yet as more craft brewers enter the scene, and the market starts to approach a possible saturation point, it’s increasingly clear that running a craft brewing operations is a difficult business. As one industry expert told the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “It is not now and never has been a traditional path to

Home Brewing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *