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04.2014

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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OnBeerReport

GOOSE ISLAND BEERS TAKE FLIGHT

Well, that didn’t take long. When Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased Chicago craft brewery Goose Island in 2O11 fans were concerned that it was just another corporate takeover. But the companies were adamant that not much would change. Goose Island founder John Hall maintained oversight of operations, and brewing was still in the hands of brewmaster Brett Porter. Now, two years later, it’s a different story. Anheuser-Busch recently announced it will move production of Goose Island IPA, 312 Urban Wheat, Honker’s Ale, and Mild Winter to A-B facilities in Fort Collins, Colorado, and Baldwinsville, New York. According to the company, the change is necessary in order to ensure supply meets demand because these four brews are now available nationwide. Production of limited distribution, high-end specialty brews like Sofie, Matilda and Bourbon County Brand Stout will stay at the original Fulton Street Brewery.

The A-B Goose Island buyout takeover has been much watched since it happened, viewed by many as emblematic of the push by macro-brewers to keep little craft upstarts from taking too much market share away from big beers. The Brewers Association highlighted the trend in the much-discussed essay, “Craft vs. Crafty”. According to a rep, Porter will still oversee all production of Goose Island labels, even the ones offsite, but it remains to be seen what the ultimate result will be on the outsourced brews. (It seems particularly ironic that 312 Urban Wheat is leaving its city of origin, since it is named after the downtown Chicago area code.) If the beers produced are of good quality, the benefit will be more drinkers with access to Goose Island beer. If they aren’t, it will be just another big beer buyout story. Either way, it still takes the “local” flavor out of the equation.

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