Are we witnessing the death of craft beer? There has been a lot of brouhaha (pun intended) over the recent purchase of craft brewers by investment firms or macro brewers. I, for one, share some skepticism, but I am not up in arms. I think if it allows these breweries to operate rather than shut down, then it is a good thing. However, if these large macro breweries want to buy them and force them to behave as they do, then we are in trouble. I love craft beer because of the variety. As someone who has worked in the software development industry, I love experimentation. I think that is the most significant advantage of craft brewers; they can experiment. They are like the startups of the beer world. Iteration ensures we’re not stuck with the same boring beers we had decades ago.
Sam Adams recently purchased Dogfish Head for around $300 million, and instantly, people declared their death. I disagree. First, I would consider Jim Koch, the founder of Sam Adams, to be one of the fathers of the current craft beer movement. Second, if any macro brewery is good at experimentation, it is Sam Adams. I don’t think these purchases are a bad thing for the craft beer industry.
Think of a company like Google. The vast majority of their revenue comes from the Google search page and the ads they run. While this may be their macro operation, it does not impact the company from experimenting. Same with Amazon, their macro revenue came from the Amazon site, yet they experimented with AWS and their streaming offerings. I would view these large purchases as a way to allow these companies to live on while giving them the resources and backing to continue to experiment. I seriously doubt that we are witnessing the death of craft beer. People have been drinking beer for millennia, and we will carry on!
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