Monday, March 28, 2011

Laying A Big, Fat Egg

We're just over 4 minutes into the second period of the Blackhawks-Red Wings game and for the first time since Chicago drafted Patrick Kane we find ourselves rooting for the Wings. We're Eastern Conference-centric so most nights this game could end in a tie and we could live with it. A fair number of people believe in the prowess of the Western Conference but while they have Hockeytown we have Hockey Heaven (admittedly under construction).

The real reason for our Windy City animosity this evening is the disappointing news that the Goose Island Beer Company (aka Fulton Street Brewery, LLC) is selling out to Anheuser-Busch (aka Anheuser-Bush InBev). In a blog post sent to us by our Midwest Correspondents, CEO John Hall explains that it's primarily about increasing capacity, innovation, protecting the future of Goose Island, yadayadayada. Said Hall, "[t]oday's agreement...will provide us with the best resources available to continue along our path of growth and innovation."

Forgive our skepticism but this smacks of selling out the way your favorite punk band goes pop rock for the coin. The big brewers have been forcing their way into the craft segment for the past few years and it makes good business sense. It's likely hard for AB to be half of a global brewing conglomerate and open a startup craft brewing company both logistically and from a public relations perspective. Besides, you have to do something when sales of your flagship brand have been stagnant for years.

The real reason for skepticism is Mr. Hall's talk of innovation when the agreement includes news that Brewmaster Greg Hall is stepping down. According to Chicago Breaking Business, AB is pumping $1.3 million into increasing capacity but losing your head brewer is no small matter. One also wonders why not go small before going big? The same CBB article notes that Dog Fish Head recently pulled out of four states because they didn't have the brewing capacity.

It could be worse - AB could have hired Gilbert Gottfried as the new voice over for Goose Island commercials. For those keeping score at home, Chicago's leading 201 with 16:30 gone in the second period. We're going to grab a Bell's.


hhenning said...

Great commentary. Look what happened to Leffe when it was bought - the recipe totally changed for the worse. My respect for Dogfish Head continues to grow. At least the Blackhawks did beat the Redwings last night.

rob said...

old goo goo dolls were so good. such a shame.