When Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased Chicago craft brewery Goose Island in 2011, the companies were vocal about the fact 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. However, two years later, the other shoe has dropped.
Anheusher-Busch has 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, Colo., and Baldwinsville, N.Y.. The change is necessary in order to ensure supply meets demand, says the company, 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 was emblematic of the push by macro-brewers to keep craft upstarts from taking too much market share away from big beers — see also Budweiser’s recent launch of Black Crown. The Brewers Association highlighted the trend in the much-discussed essay, "Craft vs. Crafty."
According to a rep, Brett Porter will still oversee all production of Goose Island labels, even the ones offsite, but it remains to be seen if there is any discernible degradation in quality or flavor of the outsourced brews. (It seems especially ironic that 312 Urban Wheat is one of those leaving its city of origin, since it is named after the downtown Chicago area code.)
If they are good, the benefit of the change will be more drinkers with access to Goose Island beer. Have you had a chance to compare the new and the old Goose Island offerings?
— Danya Henninfer, The Drink Nation
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