Darth Budweiser: “If he could be turned, he would be a powerful ally”.

Now that I’ve returned from drinking my way through the vineyards and breweries of Europe, I am back in the role of ‘beer buyer’ for a restaurant group (currently with three locations, soon to be four).  In fact, its one of my favorite duties.  Sort of like a baseball card collection kept at three different homes.

Within a week or so of landing in Paris in early June, I heard the news that microbrewery Goose Island was bought out by Anheuser Busch—who  themselves are now owned by multi-national, mega-conglomerate, InBev—as my secret spy radio was tuned to the Craft Beer Resistance’s all-points bulletin.

(This logo now owned by Budweiser)

I guess I wasn’t all that surprised, as AB had been distributing the Goose’s beers for quite some time—I was a bit taken aback when I first attempted to purchase their beers.  “Wait, so you mean we need to fill a credit application out with Anheuser-Busch to buy Goose Island?? Do I need to purchase a Darth Vader helmet, as well?”

Greg Hall, the talented Chicago brewmaster who nurtured Goose Island to success, had paid me a visit a few months before.  He was a funny, down to earth, passionate guy; not to mention, his Belgian-line of beers like Sofie and Pere Jacques were tasty, well-made creations.  I was eager to have them on my list.  So, I got over the whole Budweiser distribution thing and focused on carrying as much of their small-batch stuff as I could.  I figured, sure, I’ll swim with the sharks, but I’ll carry a sharp spear for protection.

Greg Hall, former Brewmaster of Goose Island

Fast-forward four months: the landscape has changed.  Greg Hall is now out of the picture (the new brewmaster, Brett Porter, is no slouch, however, and worked from 2005 to 2010 as Head Brewer at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, and also as the Head Brewer of Portland Brewing from 1993 to 2005).  I am now torn.

My guess is that many supporters of Magic Hat (who was acquired by North American Breweries, a conglomerate that also owns Labatt Blue, Dundee and Pyramid, to name a few) feel the same way.  Nearly the entire Magic Hat brewing team left after the acquisition and many people feel the soul of the brewery did, as well.

So, the debate rages on: do we as craft beer lovers support the brewery that was once the little guy but has now made it big?  Or do we turn our spotlight away and find a new little guy?

Magic still left in the hat?

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22 Responses to “Goose Island: One of Us or One of Them?”

  1. Wine Lover says:

    Goose Island: One of Us or One of Them?: Darth Budweiser: “If he could be turned, he would be a powerful ally”. … http://bit.ly/ojJPDm

  2. Seth M says:

    I too grappled with this question and the issue that remains is this for me. If the quality of the beer remains the same and the acquisition by AB-InBev and the change in staff doesn’t mean a lower quality beer, which in statements they claim there will be no changes then I will still drink it. However, if given a choice between supporting them or a little guy I will lean towards the little guy who kept with their passion and didn’t sell out so to speak.

  3. Jon Crowell says:

    The main appeal of craft beer to me is the taste, but a close second is the enjoyment I get out of supporting small businesses that are run by people who care about making a phenomenal product with integrity. There are so many great craft beers that still have their soul for me to drink a beer that’s served in the Death Star Cafeteria. Goose Island = Blue Moon.

  4. SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE AND TAKE OVER. I say, drink it, but for Odin’s sake, don’t give them any of your money! If there’s a good alternative around. Utter hypocrite alert: Don’t post pics of me drinking Blue Moon at South Street Seaport! It was midnight! I needed a beer! You can drink outside there!

  5. NEW POST: How can I support a fave #craftbrewery that's bought by the #DeathStar!? @GooseIsland: "1 of Us or 1 of Them?" http://t.co/1IDzqV7

  6. Jon Crowell says:

    Goose Island served in the Death Star. RT @grapesandgrains: Goose Island: One of Us or One of Them? http://t.co/KgQ2k2n

  7. Jenna North says:

    Great post from @grapesandgrains : RT @grapesandgrains: Goose Island: One of Us or One of Them? http://t.co/EK0hKuy #Chicago #beer

  8. Tony Bowker says:

    I ask you to consider: ‘Have the rebels, in fact, taken the Death Star?’ Long live the revolution!

  9. Lenny says:

    NEW POST: How can I support a fave #craftbrewery that's bought by the #DeathStar!? @GooseIsland: "1 of Us or 1 of Them?" http://t.co/1IDzqV7

  10. terroirNY says:

    Goose the Goose Island? RT @grapesandgrains: How can I support a fave #craftbrewery bought by #DeathStar!? @GooseIsland: http://t.co/1IDzqV7

  11. stevensolo says:

    #ShopliftersUniteAndTakeOver RT @grapesandgrains: How can I support a #craftbrewery bought by #DeathStar!? @GooseIsland: http://t.co/1IDzqV7

  12. Tks! RT @jennanorth: Great post from @grapesandgrains : RT @grapesandgrains: Goose Island: One of Us or One of Them? http://t.co/EK0hKuy

  13. Chilled RT @jonrcrowell: Goose Island served in Death Star. RT @grapesandgrains: Goose Island: One of Us or One of Them? http://t.co/KgQ2k2n

  14. NEW POST! How can I support a fave #craftbrewery that's bought by the #DeathStar!? @GooseIsland: "1 of Us or 1 of Them?" http://t.co/1IDzqV7

  15. Joe F. says:

    I have to admit that knowing that information would take some of the enjoyment away for me. I wouldn’t necessarily boycott it, but I would definitely be looking elsewhere on the shelf for my libations. What can I say, I love an underdog!

  16. Tony, I hope that’s the case and you all don’t end up fighting to stay afloat in the Death Star trash compactor.

  17. NookOut says:

    The Goose Island controversy in the world of #beer – an interesting one http://t.co/yQAZYv8

  18. NookOut fan says:

    The Goose Island controversy in the world of #beer – an interesting one http://t.co/yQAZYv8

  19. @MiamiMaltBomb @enzobalc You're gonna love this blog…. http://t.co/Gg4tf2v cc. @grapesandgrains Malt Bomb intro'd me to Sofie.

  20. @MiamiMaltBomb @enzobalc You're gonna love this blog…. http://t.co/Gg4tf2v cc. @grapesandgrains Malt Bomb intro'd me to Sofie.

  21. NookOut says:

    The Goose Island controversy in the world of #beer – an interesting one http://t.co/2mQasVvI

  22. Clint Carter says:

    The Goose Island controversy in the world of #beer – an interesting one http://t.co/2mQasVvI

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