|"Pay no attention to the industry behind this graphic"|
A question : Why are so-called Craft breweries taken over so easily by major concerns?
Whether it's Goose Island, Boulevard, Meantime or Lagunitas, Crafties both in the UK and USA are "selling-out" (as I believe these events are referred to by the Hipper end of the beer communication movement). But why are these types of beer makers (let's call them Keg Hopfuck brewers) so sought after and easily acquired, as opposed to the mid-range mainly cask brewers (Thornbridge, DarkStar etc.)
One reason is because such things are fashionable. Big beer, though it outsells the Craft even in the biggest markets by a ratio of 4:1, has been declining in both absolute and real terms in these markets for a decade. So what do SABMiller and AB-InBev do to maintain market share? Buy up smaller breweries, of course. All those 0.1%s add up to something eventually.
But the main reason is that Craft Brewers have far more in common with Macrobreweries than the clichéd "boring brown bitter" concerns.
Take your average rapidly expanding Keg Hopfuck brewery. In the main, they'll have been started by a well educated and connected person or group. They'll often bullshit their potential buyers by saying "we started brewing for ourselves and it just got big on us man". But their assault on the market will have been invariably carefully planned. Publicity. Social media. Blogger outreach. The lot.
While they will claim to have started up to make excellent beer and get it to pubs to improve choice, it's actually all about making money. Ironically, it only works if the beer itself is some good, otherwise the plan would be seen through early on (as we're seeing now from chancers like Brewhive etc.).
So, when this Keg Hopfuck brewery gets to a certain size, the macros will come calling. Negotiations will be entered into, and they will go well. Because the Entrepreneurial Crafties and Macro Executives talk the same language. No matter what promises the Keg Hopfuck brewery has made to their fanbase about not " selling out", they will.
The whole signifiers of Craft Brewing, the tattoos, the plaid shirts, the beards, even the "punk" attitudes if you will, are simply marketing devices to appeal to a certain segment of the consumer base. It's no more or less cynical than the creation of your average Boy Band. If they ever meant anything authentic, they don't now
I like "Craft beer", and much prefer it to Boring Brown Bitter, but for me it's the taste I prefer. I don't buy into the Craft Lifestyle thing. I've been around too long to believe in such things. It pains me to say this, but if the Crafty Hipster Brigade were concerned about authentic Artisan produce, they would drink microbrewery cask bitter rather than the products of, say, Beavertown.
Enjoy your beer, guys. Just don't expect it to match your long term expectations.