Paste Magazine – You want direct illustration of how InBev’s business practices hurt the entire craft beer industry as a whole? They’ve just presented the best possible example, by more or less cutting off the entire South African hops market from independent American craft brewers. Those hops, which include some of the most sought-after new aroma varietals on the market today, will instead be earmarked for the breweries owned by InBev’s “The High End” division, including the likes of the just-purchased Wicked Weed.
This is a wild couple weeks for the craft industry that will most likely shape the craft industry at-large for years to come. What will craft look like in 5 years? 10 years? 20? Craft history will look back to this specific piece of news, to the trend AB InBev started with acquisitions as to what led to that future.
Let me be clear here for the readers. I do not sympathize with AB InBev. I actually despise them as a company for what they do to the industry, but also just because their beers mostly suck. The only good beers they have they bought, they didn’t create. You can read my full article on the Wicked Weed acquisition HERE. What I feel is good for the owners, who have struggled and sacrificed so much to get a HUGE payday. Would I rather that payday come through their own volition? ABSOLUTELY.
Here’s the deal with the hops thing. I didn’t even know this was legal. Isn’t there some rule that says you can’t monopolize something? Can’t craft breweries form a coalition and file a class action lawsuit against AB InBev? These are my questions here.
One brewery, Proclamation Ale Company, whose Facebook post was cited in the Paste article, spoke very well regarding this monumental issue. You can go to the link to the Paste article above or directly to the Facebook Post.
In case you are lazy and just want to read my take on their post, here it is. It doesn’t just impact the breweries, but the hop supplies and distribution as well. The farmers as well. Are these people out of a job? Did they get acquired? Did their sales plummet to the point where maybe their business fades away over the next few years as AB InBev consolidates?
Breweries that wanted to experiment or have used these hops in their beers are not at a halt. If my favorite beer used these hops and it was a #1 seller for a brewery, what is supposed to happen? Criminal in my opinion.
I will end this article with a glimpse of hope for us craft drinkers. AB InBev did release a statement (also in the Paste article), and ended with “if” crop production increases in that region, they will look to sell those hops similar to the past. But South African hops are hard to grow. Took SAB Miller tons of time to figure it out. No promises, but a glimpse of hope is all we have folks. In the meantime, stop buying those AB fake crafts and enjoy something real with amazing quality!