More on Anheuser-Busch's sad acquisition of Goose Island Brewery. First, Brewmaster Greg Hall told the Tribune about the trouble he's seen:
In an interview with the Tribune last month, brewmaster Greg Hall said the company’s sales had “outpaced our forecast in 2010, so that we weren’t quite ready for all of the growth we got.” Goose Island also hired an investment banker to assist the family in securing funds for expansion.
Although the Craft Brewers Alliance’s 2006 investment in Goose Island has technically exempted the brewer from craft-beer status, the company’s popular brands have shared the problem of other craft beers: increasing capacity to meet surging demand.
Goose Island is best-known for its 312 Urban Wheat Ale, and respected in craft circles for other products like Matilda and Bourbon County Stout. Goose Island has been outsourcing some production and seeking additional investment to expand capacity.
And Chicago Public Radio had some local bar owners on to wring their hands:
[B]ar owners like Phil McFarland, who runs Small Bar in Chicago's Ukranian Village neighborhood, said he's conflicted about the merger.
"I don't guess that Anheuser has bought them to make Budweiser knock offs and part of the appeal of a brewery like Goose Island is that they have the recipes they do that have the, sort of, respect in the market that they have and from a business point of view, I would have to think they'd be sort of crazy to mess with that too much, but time will tell," McFarland said.
Meanwhile, Chris Staten, the Beer Editor of Draft Magazine, said the acquisition shows Anheuser's further commitment to the craft brew market.
In other words, this is a classic "bookend" story. Goose Island has already become a major beer producer, no longer really a craft brewery, so no one can really do more than shrug. And Inbev, which owns Anheuser-Busch, is too big and stupid to make their own beer up to Goose Island's quality, so they just figured they'd buy the place. Hey, big companies buying small companies happen every day; what could go wrong?