Anheuser-Busch taking over Goose Island Beer Co.

Article here.

According to other articles, the brewpubs will still be independently owned. The move is supposed to allow increased production to keep pace with demand. This increased production capacity will allow Goose Island to bring back the Nut Brown Ale and a couple of others that were cut to make room for Matilda.

I try not to be one of those doom-and-gloom naysayers, but this makes me a little sad. True, I do most of my Goose Island beer-drinking at the Clybourn brewpub, so this won’t effect me as much as it might others. Still, it just feels wrong. I suppose I can’t criticize the business decision too harshly; I’m not privy to the details. I do sort of wish that they’d taken the Anchor Steam route and refused to sell to a larger brewer.

Anyway, here are Greg Hall’s thoughts on the matter. Any way you slice it, it’s still a significant change to the Chicago brewing landscape.

It’s a little troubling, to be sure. However, if a Chicago-area microbrewery was going to get purchased by Big Beer, I’m not entirely surprised that it was Goose Island. They always struck me as the Chicagoland brewery that did the most to court the mass market, with what must be admitted was a fair amount of success. I suppose they’re victims of their own success — except “victims” isn’t quite the right word.

Now, if Two Brothers or Three Floyds had been purchased by Anheuser-Busch, I would be shocked and (esp. for Three Floyds) appalled. They’ve always had a more fiercely independent, “beer for beer connoisseurs” vibe. Not being able to get an Alpha King is one of the things I dislike the most about having moved away from the Midwest. (Bell’s is the only Midwestern microbrewery that shows up down here in Florida.)

Do they still serve the Stilton Burger at the Clybourn brewpub? That thing was phenomenal.

I think it’s hilarious that there was a period of time when I could get Bell’s in Florida, but not in Chicago. Thankfully that’s been remedied.

I’ll remain cautiously optimistic; with the brewpubs remaining independent they will presumably employ their own brewmasters to do their own thing, just like they do now. Like I said, that’s where I drink most of my Goose Island (hell, the Clybourn brewpub was no small part of our decision to by a place on Clybourn), and as long as the beer that gets produced does not suffer in quality, fair play to them. It still seems a bit sad.

They do still have the Stilton burger, but there’s been a couple of new chefs over the last few years. I’ve not had the burger, so I don’t know how the recipe may or may not have changed under the different chefs. The fries have gotten better, I know that much, and lately they’ve had a number of house-made sausages that have been quite tasty. So, on the whole, still better-than-average pub grub.

I’d simply like to note that Anheuser-Busch is not, and has not been, Anheuser-Busch for about three years now. It is Anheuser-Bush InBev, a global company that retains nothing from Anheuser-Busch except part of its name. It is not controlled from St. Louis, but from Belgium.

I say more power to them! If I started a company from scratch, and built it up to a success, and had a chance to sell it and retire on a fortune, I’d take it. I’d by a hypocrite to criticize anyone else for doing the same thing.

It is a damn fine brewpub, though, and I’m glad it will still be there, a few minutes walk from my house.