Editor’s Note: This article has been changed since it was originally published. These views are strictly my own, and do not reflect those of everyone here at MwBC.
I’m going to be honest, I had to take some time before I could write this. As you all know, Goose Island was sold to Anheuser-Busch on Monday. I got the news from Goose Island’s web site, where the headline read “Goose Island Selects Current Partner Anheuser-Busch for Growth Strategy.” In other words, the Goose sold out. And I was furious (ask Brian, it must’ve been annoying).
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall all but threw the craft beer community under the bus. “Some people will think this is not the best news,” Hall said. “There are a heck of a lot of people who have never heard of Goose Island who will be able to try us.”
As an undying supporter of Goose Island, this collection of news and quotes made the whole thing really hard to swallow. With some time to think, I realized my frustration wasn’t really worth it. The pros vastly outweigh the cons, and Goose Island’s future still lies in its own hands.
This is a smart business move on a lot of levels, but the payoff will be biggest if Goose Island maintains the high quality of their product. Yes, they will have to earn respect back from much of the craft beer community (a.k.a. us pantsless bloggers griping about beer in our mother’s basements), but to do that they must simply stay the course. Personally, I won’t be buying any Goose Island any time soon. No, this is not a boycott. I’m just interested in other beers.
The silver lining? This is a huge opportunity for brewers in Chicago, a beer town if there ever was one. Hall’s quote I cited earlier indicates that Goose Island is done with the Chicago market, they have been for a while. Their goals lie elsewhere. Much of the craft beer movement is about drinking locally, and it’s time for other brewers to step up and fill the void. I feel this is great news for the likes of Metropolitan, Two Brothers, Half Acre, Finch’s and the gang, and hopefully they all see the growth they deserve over the next couple of years. Goose’s decision should actually make Chicago a better place for smaller brewers, so let’s raise a glass to the brave souls who step up! I’ll be waiting with an empty pint glass.
Of course, it’ll be tough for a little while, kind of like a breakup. But I have a feeling this will be an amicable breakup, one where I’ll come back to a 312 a couple years down the road and we’ll reminisce and realize that the split was the best for both people. I’ll have a nice job with benefits, and she’ll finally be have found the man of her dreams due to Anheuser-Busch’s brand power. No hard feelings, just good memories, the way all relationships should be.