A-B, Goose Island in talks

December 21st, 2005 | Posted by Real Beer

The Chicago Tribune (free registration required) reports that Goose Island Beer Co. and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch are “in talks.”

Goose Island president and founder John Hall confirmed as much, but said discussions have been limited to “distribution issues.” He declined to comment further on the nature of the talks.

Adding a small brewer would answer demands from A-B wholesalers to add new products.

“Its wholesalers are clamoring for high-margin, growth brands,” said Benj Steinman, editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, told the Tribune. “Anheuser has promised to deliver them, but they can’t just create them.”

A-B reportedly is talking with other microbreweries about distribution deals or taking a stake in the companies, including Old Dominion in Virginia.

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15 Responses to “A-B, Goose Island in talks”

  1. Sean Says:

    Don’t let this happen. A-B is the giant we have all been against. Just because they are losing sales don’t mean they should be allowed to buy up the competion. Brands don’t need their distribution networks. There are other wholesalers who would be glad to sell some brands. Because in the end A-B only cares about A-B.

  2. Martin Says:

    My God, this is terrifying news! Goose Island IPA is my daily drink, if AB gets ahold of it my life is ruined!

  3. Beer Nut Says:

    As a specialty beer retailer and former professional brewer in Washington state that currently carries Goose Island, I can say that this would be yet another blow to medium-sized breweries looking to get to the big time. Has anyone learned anything from Red Hook or Celis? Guess not. I don’t carry anything AB, and Goose Island will be no exception.

  4. Mel K Says:

    It would help these microbrews get more travel throughout the states. Many of the small microbreweries are with the large companies. Such as Blue Moon is owned by Coors also Killians. I am glad that I got to be able to start drinking Widmer Hefeweizen on the east coast. AB is only looking for partnership in distribution, Goose Island will still brew their beer . How many european beers are brewed here in the states or Canada by the large breweries? Cheers !

  5. Dannyboy Says:

    Such animosity. As a beverage retailer in Minnesota, I welcome distribution of specialty brews through A-B contracted distribution chains. The reason? They simply are more reliable. I have 15 different beer distributors to deal with. Supply disruptions from the specialty beer carriers annoy my customers, which is bad for business. (How many times will a customer come back for a beer that is constantly back-ordered? Your guess is as good as mine.)

    In my years of experience, I’ve noticed that Miller and A-B’s portfolio of ‘specialty’ beers has actually widened my customers’ exposure of the specialty beers in general.

    Unlike the average reelbeer.com patron, most beer drinkers that sustain the liquor retail industry are not connoisseurs, or at least don’t start out as one. Most people can’t tell you the difference between ale and a lager, and begin their drinking career as youngsters struggling to afford a 12 pack of Natural Ice.

    The Goose Island Beer Co. is a great brewery. My sister lives down the street from it. However it would be nice if we had better distribution of it in my market.

    Would A-B ruin the Goose? I have no idea. But most of my customers wouldn’t know the difference because it has no presence in my market anyway.

  6. Benjamin Henning Says:

    Kansas man here I get goose Island alot of the other micros from around the country some not all. I have a fear as a craft brew drinker and lover of any small to medium brewery level beer that if AB gets ahold of these brewerys it won’t be long and they will all fall to the pressure and change there formulations to please the mass’s. Instead of pleasing the small select group of us that enjoy a good beer not the mass marketed cheap made swill that they already sell well cause thats all people know. AB just wants to get into the craft brew the easy way by buying out others well I say Hell no we won’t go. Thats ok I can have what ever beer I want Cause I can still brew my own at home.

  7. Eric Says:

    As a Chicago native I have to say this immediately troubled me. But now that I’m living in the northwest I notice that some markets are definitely closed off to offerings from outside markets. I would love to see something out here other than Goose Island Oatmeal Stout, as that’s all many stores carry. I’m just not sure I want it at the expense of Goose Island carrying the A-B stigma. It’s a tough choice. Do you go for the great distribution deal so you can be placed in national grocery stores? Or do you struggle on your own to break into markets that are, for lack of a better term, isolationist beer snobs and maintain some pride & dignity while doing it? I hope and trust that John Hall will make the right move here.

  8. John Says:

    Why all the hate against AB , just curious , I cant get Goose Island , where I live so what if they distribute it , oh and to Beer Nut Celis was ruined by Miller brewing not AB.

  9. Curtis Says:

    Distibution is just that. we are not talking about AB taking over production. For years this has happened to soda companies. Dr. Pepper is an independant company and has been distributed by Pepsi. The same with Barqs Root Beer, Barqs however is now done by Coke. The product doesn’t change just how and who moves it from production to your store.

  10. ttoadee Says:

    A-B usually wants a percentage of the company (look at Redhook)…so it starts out as just a ” we supply the trucks” deal, but eventually they are a major shareholder and start to effect the way the beer is made. I think anyone who deals with A-B will find it increasingly difficult to not get taken over by them or chewed up and spit out.

  11. meethawk Says:

    i would worry that it would end up like henry weinhard’s that just disappeard, when i believe hielmanns took over. the beer itself just changed. i could see that happening to the goose. i hope john makes the wright call. my dad went to school with him i would hate to see them change anything, but i heard fat tire is going a-b also.

  12. tim says Says:

    Ya! great idea, when a.b. took over red hook brewery , the beer went from great to poor! a. b. sales have been down, so they are trying new ways to whore the little boys to make the big a.b. even bigger, remember when a.b. decided to get into the potato chip business ( eagle snacks) didnt do so well, now did they? sold to frito lay and now its bye bye. the rich get richer and the poor get poorer! amen brother!

  13. david Says:

    take it as a compliment. clearly AB sees something in goose that they can’t replicate on their own. to that end, there is no incentive for them to mess with success. AB does have access to an amazing network of distributors which will help goose become more successful but all those distributors are all independent of AB and they are hungry for some diversity in their portfolio and will support goose with maximum efforts.

  14. Brookston Beer Blog » Blog Archive » Euphemistic Craft Brewers Alliance Swells Its Ranks? Says:

    [...] Goose Island, on the other hand, does appear to at least be in talks with A-B. As long ago as last December, the Chicago Tribune reported as much. As mentioned in Stan Hieronymus’ Beer Therapy “Goose Island president and founder John Hall confirmed as much, but said discussions have been limited to ‘distribution issues.’ He declined to comment further on the nature of the talks. I saw Will Turner, who’s a Bay Area brewer who now brewes for Goose Island, at CBC but I didn’t get a chance to ask him about this. [...]

  15. Crohan Says:

    I don’t think this is a situation of AB trying to buy a micro brew because they cannot make specialty brews themselves, because I think they’ve been fairly successful in some of their recent innovations, i.e. Michelob Amber Bock and Honey Lager. This is more about seeing that Micro brews have become increasingly popular to the masses, and they want to make sure they maintain their market share, and they can do that by distributing another companies product. I sincerely doubt they will change the formula of Goose Island’s product.
    AB is a great company, and it’s employees are practically treated like royalty. I can only wish I got free passes to any AB theme park every year, and massive discounts on food and drinks at those parks as well. I do not know a single person who works for Anheuser Busch who is unhappy. The average bottling plant employee makes 60k a year, and they have great benefits! Stop acting like AB is some mean bad nasty giant company. They have a business to run, and try to make good business decisions, and never back down from innovation, unlike some other large brewers in this country. They’re always willing to hang it all out there to see what happens, and that strategy has served them well.