Image courtesy of Leinenkugel.
It’s no secret that the craft beer industry has exploded in the last decade. Many well-known craft breweries have expanded their footprint as their sales have increased. Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues have all built breweries on the east coast to keep up with demand. Others, have taken a much different route to gain traction in the beer world.
In recent years, many high profile craft breweries have been sold to the big boys. This has a created much controversy in the craft beer world. Many craft beer purists believe that if you sell your brewery to the likes of Budweiser or Coors, you are a sellout. Others, however, believe that selling off your company for profit (no matter what the business) is the American way and it’s just business.
The interesting thing is that while beer fans are jeering the sale of their favorite local brewery, the same thing already happened with the American Whiskey industry and nobody even seemed to care. Also, if you don’t know already, pretty much every famous whiskey distillery in Scotland from Glenfiddich to Glenlivet is owned by a giant corporation and you don’t see the Scots boycotting their favorite brands.
With all of that said, you probably should still know who exactly owns your favorite local brewery.
Who Really Owns Your Favorite Brewery?
SABMiller owns two fairly well-known breweries that you and your friends have likely enjoyed over the years. Leinenkugel has been part of the Miller family of breweries since 1988. Before that, it was a regional brand without much of a footprint outside of Wisconsin. Since then, the brewery has expanded to become a national brand and added different styles including their popular shandies. And, even though they’re owned by SABMiller, Jacob Leinenkugel, the sixth generation to make beer, is still in charge of the brewery. Blue Moon, on the other hand, was never actually a craft brewery. The beer was originally called Bellyslide Belgian and it was made at the Sandlot Brewery (owned by Coors) at Coors Field. The brand has had trouble over the years since they don’t list Coors as the maker of the beer. But, by now, most people already know that anyway.
Back in 2011, AB-Inbev purchased Goose Island, the most well-known brewery in Chicago and one of the most popular craft breweries in the US. It still remains popular and is now available all over the world. A lot of people were disappointed with AB-Inbev purchased Elysian in January of 2015. Makers of Super Fuzz, Dayglow IPA and Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Elysian’s popularity didn’t wane after the acquisition. Founded in 2008, Devils Backbone was acquired by AB-Inbev in April of 2016. This has led to a lot of anger among the craft beer community in Virginia. In fact, they aren’t even allowed to attend their own beer festival (The Virginia Craft Brewers Festival) because they aren’t technically a “craft” beer company.
North American Breweries
Duvel Moortgat USA
Belgian brewing group Duvel Moortgat purchased Kansas City’s popular Boulevard Brewing in 2013. Prior to that, they were the largest craft brewery in Missouri.
In 2015, popular San Diego-based craft brewery Ballast Point was purchased by east coast-based Constellation Brands for a billion dollars.
It’s good to know who actually owns your favorite breweries, but it’s also a good idea to do your own research. Actually taste the beer before you decide that they are “sell outs”. Maybe you’ll even still like the beer. If you feel bad about supporting a giant corporation instead of a small craft brewery then grab a sixer of your favorite Ballast Point, Elysian or Goose Island beer and also a sixer of a small, local craft brewery. That way, you can enjoy your favorite beer without feeling like you are taking money out of the pockets of the little guys.