Happy Birthday America- Can I get A Stella Artois please…
It’s the Fourth of July. I am sitting at Churchill’s Pub here in San Marcos. It’s an English Pub (so the sign says). But they also happen to serve great craft beer and their bottled beer list is unrivaled in these parts of town. It’s 11:48 in the AM and I needed a beer after swimming this morning. (Feel free to interject whether the 20 Ounces of yellow liquid I just ordered is even beer) With all the flag waving and hymns to our beloved Stars and Stripes I will see today, I decided today would be a great day to sit and write about the impending takeover of an American Icon known simply to most as Bud.
By now, everyone knows that In Bev is trying to acquire AB. And since today is literally a Red, White and Blue Day, it makes sense that I might finally want to write about this topic. I suppose as a Patriotic American and a Brewery Owner, I should be concerned about In Bev coming into our country and bullying their way into our land of the free. Thing is, I really don’t give a flying you know what. Mostly, it would seem that Beer Karma is bitting AB in their collective ass.
See for too long, there has been enough Arrogance coming out of St Louis to fuel a space program. This idealism of Americana, which has been wrapped around every can and bottle of Budweiser, is seemingly about to be crushed like that same can of beer on a frat boys forehead on a Friday night. Clearly, this hostile takeover bid is a gut check. And I for one am not sure how the AB we know and all “Love” survives this. The Busch family seems to have lost touch with reality and the changing landscape of brewing fueled by my great friends and the instigators of the Craft Beer Movement. People want flavorful beer. It’s a pretty simple premise.
But at this very moment, the largest American Brewer is under attack from another very powerful brewing giant. And one that I might add seems well positioned to take down the #1 Brewer in the world. How can this be? How does the biggest brewer in the world get toppled by a “lesser and surely “inferior” brewing company?
More importantly do we as Patriotic drinkers even care? I mean as an American, I am concerned for the loss of jobs and inevitable displacement that will come from the shakeout. When In Bev comes marching in, there will be a reorganization for sure. That’s to be expected. There’s nothing we can do about that. What concerns me more (and not enough to write my congressman) is the loss of the last big American Brewer to foreign concerns. We have lost Coors to the Canadians and Molson as well as Miller to the South Africans. Does this portend well for Yuengling? Does this instantly take them into a new stratosphere? Don’t know. But it’s crazy to consider how much of the total beer produced in this country would be owned by foreign entities. That seems so Un American? I find a certain measure of interest in the fact that a Belgian owned company is on the march through America. During WW I and II it seems that everyone marched through Belgium. Today, the Belgian Mega group of In Bev is returning the favor. Should we have seen this coming? Why is it happening now?
Well my friends, it comes from growth and the need to be public. As a public company, AB has backed itself into a proverbial corner. In doing so, In Bev has forced the Busch family to come out swinging like a runt in school yard fight. From my vantage point, it would appear that this little battle brewing is like a classic cartoon where the bully is puts his hand on the forehead of the “little runt” all the while, the little dude keeps swinging at air. I know the AB guys have an army of lawyers but how much muscle do they have? About 5.0% of total shares is what I am told the Busch family controls. That isn’t a position I would like to be in. And I am sure that they never considered anyone would mount a hostile takeover.
So this Fourth of July, I just consumed one Stella Artois in an act of Patriotism. I suppose you would argue that I should have consumed a Budwieser. But, as they have yet to roll out Budwieser American Ale, I took a pass. With the emptying of my glass, I have moved on to an Arrogant Bastard. It’s a lesser known beer with plenty of attitude as well. It’s my kind of attitude. The one that says ” You’re probably not going to like this beer…” It’s very refreshing this attitude thing. The other guys who pimp the Red White and Blue have been telling us a lie all these years “We know of know other beer in the world that tastes like this…” Yeah right, it tastes nothing like the beer that we’re all drinking these days. Today, I am going to celebrate our country’s great independence even though we’re in the midst of an invasion. It’s an invasion that promises to change the landscape of brewing. What remains to be seen is when they redraw the boundaries of AB what the new map is going to look like. For the most part, I couldn’t care.