July 9th, 2012

Why We're Saying Goodbye to "Mainstream" Beer

I guess a lot of you guys who know me won’t be surprised that this post is something I’m fired up about. Just a look at my little label cloud on my sidebar shows how prevalent “anger” is. I get fired up easily. Dog rescue and fighting puppy mills, politics and people who vote without research… and this time, beer.

Beer has been a part of my life for more than a decade (sorry Mom) but early on, I thought beer was GROSS. I got used to the light, tasteless, nasty stuff people bring to parties… Natty Ice, Beast, Coors/Bud/Miller lite, Corona, etc. Yes, I consider these crap beers now. But hey… I didn’t mind them then.

This was back when I thought Corona “Extra” meant extra alcohol. I was wrong.

I had pretty much exclusively switched to mixed drinks (and pre-gaming) and didn’t really give beer a second thought until after college. Except, you know, when bonging beers. When I moved to Indiana, my sorority’s local alumnae chapter had a beer and cheese tasting at Rock Bottom, which is where I discovered 1) goat cheese and 2) that beer could actually be delicious and flavorful. I became addicted to their red, and started to order things like Blue Moons at bars. I laugh now at how much I had to learn- but it was a step in the right direction. I previously talked about how far I’d come in the My Evolution of Beer post.

When Big Daddy and I were dating, we both started picking up new beer tastes. When I tried Upland’s Dragonfly IPA I became addicted to hops, and it’s been a great trip since then. I always try to encourage people to try beers, because no matter the person’s tastes, there’s a beer out there for you. Rich, coffee and caramel roasty flavors. Light, fruity flavors. Bitter and sour and sweet flavors. Wheat beers and fizzy beers and hoppy beers. It’s a wonderful world. I couldn’t have been prouder or more excited when my cousin wrote THE book on Indiana beer. (Buy it here now! And FYI he’s working on a Massachusetts one too!)

B and I try to buy local, craft beers whenever possible. When we go out to nicer restaurants we try to order something that is from that menu’s background area like Asian, Italian, etc. But we still buy a lot of the “lite” beers when just buying some to drink at home. I got caught up in the gimmicks, but always preferred good, flavorful, thoughtful microbrews.

We watched a documentary-style movie on Netflix yesterday that completely sent me reeling on this very topic. It’s called Beer Wars, and it opened my eyes to what I was drinking and why. And after seeing it, B and I agreed- no more buying anything from Anheuser-Busch or MillerCoors.

There are tons of reasons, which I will try my best to outline for you. First of all, you need to see the movie. It’s a little outdated in a few parts- note that A-B is owned by InBev now (or per Wikipedia – “an American brewing company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev.”) InBev is a foreign company so when you’re drinking Budweiser… know that it’s not an American beer. MillerCoors was discussed as separate entities in the movie but are now merged.

Why should you care who brews your beer? Well, first of all, let’s talk taste. Have you ever let a Bud/Miller/Coors “lite” beer warm up a bit and drank it? Piss water. Even a light beer from a micro/craft/local brewery will have flavor that stands up at room temperature. They have, for the most part, a higher alcohol content. And did I mention flavor? If you are addicted to a beer that I’m calling crap beer (aka any of the “lites,” Corona, Stella, Blue Moon- etc) ask me, or a bartender/brewmaster at a local place, or even an employee at any large beer emporium-style store, “What would a comparable beer be from a smaller brewery?” Like I said before, there’s a GOOD beer out there for everyone. Plus, you get more alcohol content per beer, so even if you spend more, you won’t have to drink as much to get a buzz on. You can enjoy it. You can complement your menu like you would with wines. You won’t have to pee after every beer because you aren’t drinking watered down crap. For more reasons to drink craft beer, check this out, or this- which lists the top craft breweries. Sam Adams is actually – while largely distributed and well-known – the biggest craft brewery out there. Good for them! (They’re a great beer to buy at bars with smaller selections.)

It goes further along though than just the product you’re drinking. A-B and MillerCoors are scary companies that I now liken to Walmart (which, besides having hilarious people-watching, I try to avoid due to company practices and because you tend to “get what you pay for.”) I’m sure you all realize how much A-B and MillerCoors spend on advertising- it’s ridiculous. We’ve all seen the Super Bowl commercials, and noticed their sponsorships of athletic events. But I bet you didn’t realize how much they are pushed at you. Because they are such high-volume sellers (A-B actually sells nearly 50% of all beer in America! – source) stores will give them prime eye-level space with multiple types of packaging. 6-packs, 12-packs, bottles, cans, 30’s… you name it. It becomes plastered in a grouping, like a billboard for the brand. I hate having advertising shoved down my throat, and never even realized the disparity between the space they’re provided, and the one-slot-per-beer the smaller companies get.

I bet you also didn’t realize that A-B and MillerCoors own some brands you didn’t realize. A-B owns Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Michelob ULTRA, Shock Top, Stella, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Bass Ale, Boddingtons, Czechvar, Lowenbrau, Staropramen, Beck’s, Alexander Keith’s, Landshark, GOOSE ISLAND (sob), Busch, Natty, Rolling Rock, Kirin, O’Doul’s, Redbridge, Wild Blue, ZiegenBock, and others, including malt beverages, Bacardi, etc. (source) And A-B also announced last week that it intends to buy out the remaining stake in Grupo Modelo, adding Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico brands. (source) MillerCoors owns Coors, Hamm’s, Icehouse, Keystone, Milwaukee’s Best, Olde English, Red Dog, Southpaw, Steel Reserve, Águila, Cristal, Cusqueña, Grolsch, Lech, Peroni, Pilsner Urquell, Tyskie, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Killian’s, Henry Weinhard’s, Leinenkugel’s (SOB!), Foster’s, Molson, Winterfest, and others including malt beverages and… my college favorite… Sparks. I may have dropped a tear on that one. (source) Surprised at all? I was. I loved me some Goose Island and Leinenkugel. But they got bought out and now are just a part of these monolith corporations.

Smaller breweries are obviously not going to have the same opportunities for advertising or production that A-B and MillerCoors do. Just like with restaurant or retail chains, some are big while others are small. But the issue that is most troublesome is distribution. Small breweries are hurt by America’s outdated beer distribution laws. The laws break distribution into three tiers to separate the process… similar to how our government is separated into Congress, Executive and Judicial branches. The law says that the brewer cannot deliver directly to the retailer. Retailers then have to buy through distributors- who hold much of the power. The three-tiered system inhibits the growth of small breweries. It’s very political. A-B and MillerCoors usually are 90% of their distribution (you saw the above list, right?) and so craft brews have to find their way into that 10%, usually on a nice big COORS and BUDWEISER truck. There is bribery to move the major brands, and even distributors pushing for legislation to limit the distribution of smaller brewery products, so their major players have more room to move.

Then, there’s the trickery. I’m a rules-follower to the core, so hearing these stories absolutely killed me. Did you know that there are beers- owned by A-B or MillerCoors- that don’t say so on the bottle? They have tricky “brewery” names which you’d have to google to find out the true origin. For example: Batch 19, which says it’s brewed by Tenth and Blake. Who is Tenth and Blake? Oh just a division of MillerCoors. But you won’t see that on the bottle. (source) Buy organic beer from Green Valley Brewing Company? It’s A-B. But nowhere on the label does it say that. (source) So you have to hide who you are when selling a product? Using deception openly? Not sure why you’d feel like that’s a good company to give your hard-earned money to. Or how about the MillerCoors people that are able to propose legislation that would hurt local craft breweries… and because to their political donations, they are able to do so? (source) They also flex the money they have to hurt small brewers. A-B is allegedly trying to trademark local area codes (due to the popularity of Goose Island 312…) so they can continue to deceive customers. (source)

There’s also some dubious litigation. A-B in the film was shown as suing Dogfish Head for their use of the terms “Punk’in Ale” and “Chicory Stout.” Why? They claimed the names were too generic. Please go back up and read my list of A-B owned beers, and tell me how many of their beer names aren’t generic? (More info on the resolution here) They even tried to get Budini Wine to change their name so it didn’t have “Bud” in it. (source) Yet they put out beers that are supposed to look like craft beers. And they take ideas from small breweries to use as their own, bullying them out of the market. That’s what happened to MoonShot, a beer in the documentary that had caffeine in it. Later, Budweiser announced B to the E, which was marketed as the first beer with caffeine. Granted, FDA rules later shut down both beers, but they took MoonShot’s idea and made it their own- backed by Budweiser’s name, production, and advertising budget.

I guess this is a matter of personal taste. A-B and MillerCoors are doing well (though losing their market share very slowly as smaller breweries gain momentum less than 1/10th of a percentage at a time) and employ tons of people. That’s fantastic. I support large companies in general. But I don’t have to like all their practices. And, in my opinion, they offer a shitty product. Sometimes I’ll get over my Walmart hate when I need to buy, say, a shower curtain liner and some zucchini. We have a Walmart nearby, but no Target in sight. So I suck it up, and curse my decision while waiting 20 minutes for one of the two cashiers to help me. You get what you pay for- and I know what I’m getting at that store. So now I know what I’m getting when I purchase Anheuser-Busch or MillerCoors. And it’s not worth it to me anymore. I’d rather spend a little bit more on something I can enjoy and feel good about. I may end up drinking their beers in the future (weddings, or parties, where I can’t or don’t bring my own… I’ll take their beer over no beer!) But I can tell you that Big Daddy and I won’t be purchasing them. And we’ll work even harder to support tasty local brews… beers made with thoughtful care to compliment foods and intrigue the pallet. Why would I settle for less? It’s like a McDonald’s right next to St. Elmo’s Steakhouse… and they’re comparable in price. Which would you choose?

Next time you want a beer, head to a local brewery. Many do free sampling. Pick up a growler! And feel free to comment on this post with questions, thoughts, or arguments. I really want this to be a conversation about what you all think! Especially if you watched the movie on Netflix. What did you take from it?

(Oh and for anyone who wants to know my favorite beers, they are Upland’s Dragonfly IPA, Rad Red Amber Ale, and Komodo Dragonfly Black IPA, New Albanian’s Hoptimus, Bell’s Hopslam and Christmas Ale, Schlafly’s Dry Hopped APA and Pumpkin Ale, Thr3e Wise Men’s Golden Zoe and Hubbard & Cravens Porter, Sun King’s Osiris, Ruckus Brewing Co’s Hoptimus Prime, Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale, Barley Island’s Barfly IPA, 3 Floyds’ Alpha King, Rock Bottom College Park’s Heartland Red and Simcoe IPA. I *think* that’s it. But I reserve the right to add to the list at any time!)

ps- I would like to add a disclaimer that I do not condone nor support underage drinking and would advise against it.

38 comments to Why We’re Saying Goodbye to “Mainstream” Beer

  • TAKE THE NEXT STEP!!! brew your own! My DH does ;) Wish you lived in Indy still, we’d come to Indy for beer and bring ya some good homebrew!!

    I 110% support this post. We visited breweries on our honeymoon… I guess that’s our idea of a good time lol

    • Oh, I forgot to mention… I watched beer wars and it’s got some good reasons to drink other stuff for sure!! I’ll stick to my Fat Tire love :) Now that you live in the south, look out for the New Belgium Clips of Faith tour.

      Phew. Who knew I could talk so much about beer? I hardly even drink anymore!

    • kjpugs

      I considered touching on home brewing but don’t know enough to go into it. It’s definitely in the cards for us to do so, with time/space/money being a major factor. I’d love to email with you about how you got started! Home brew isn’t an option for everyone but it’s something everyone should try if they want to and can. B’s cousins brew their own in Missouri and if we all lived in the same state I wouldn’t be shocked if they opened a brewery/restaurant together. They made a blueberry stout that was seriously TO DIE FOR.

      • Go pick up some Sweetwater Blue if you can find it. :) It’s not stout, but it is blueberry… and I’ve been to the brewery in ATL. (Though they dragged me when I was preggo, so no beer for me! LAME!)

        For sure, email me anytime. I’ll probably forward them on to my husband honestly, he’s the brewer in this household, but he’s made some pretty cool stuff and he has friends that are CONSTANTLY brewing. Try looking up a homebrew shop or group/club near you too (meetup.com or your homebrew store should know), they will answer ANYTHING – it’s good to find them so you know who to ask if you have environmental or local water system questions. :)

      • Oh, and troll craigslist constantly for beer brewing stuff. It’s not worth paying the new prices in the brew store. Ours was a wedding gift, haha!!

        For anyone reading who wants to get into it: You’re going to want the bucket thing, the carboy, an auto-siphon, a wort chiller if you can swing it (just bags of ice if you can’t) and bottles. Save them up FOREVER. You need more than you think because you’re going to be giving this stuff away when you’ve had 40 of your own beer and you’re tired of it. If you think you might want to brew on your own any time in the next year, start saving your bottles!

        • kjpugs

          Oh I am SO saving my bottles now that you mention that. I can’t wait to talk to B about this… something to definitely try in the future!

          • Yes start now! We go through SO MANY BOTTLES and we don’t even really brew that often. Seriously those suckers cost $15-25/dozen at the brew store… almost as cheap to buy beer and drink it then use the bottles. lol.

  • Layla

    I’ll definitely be sharing this post with Josh. He has found some local beers in Huntsville that he enjoys, but I think this will really open his eyes to how important it is to support them.

    • kjpugs

      Thanks Layla! I’d love to hear what local breweries you guys have found and enjoy… especially if I can find their brews down here in FL!

  • Thanks for this!! I’m going to have to check out this documentary… I was so surprised at how many beers are owned by either A-B or MillerCoors. Kinda disappointing =/

    I’m excited for your cousin’s MA book! I just checked out his website – he lives in Jersey City?! Me too!!

    Some of my favorite local breweries are Heartland Brewery (we had our wedding rehearsal dinner there) and Offshore Ale (Martha’s Vineyard – so awesome!).

    /world’s longest comment

    I wish more places filled growlers… NH and MA, for example, will only refill a growler from their particular place, not any “outside” ones. Apparently it’s a state law. Lame.

    PS – Husband and I had our first date at Rock Bottom (it wasn’t planned!) :)

    • kjpugs

      My cousin just posted that he’s accepting pre-orders, let me know if you want one signed as a gift, I can get you in touch with him. And that stinks about growlers up there… IN has looser laws on them because it’s the only way to bring home beer on a Sunday. I haven’t had any experience with them in FL yet but I’ll share if I find anything out!

  • We had our rehearsal dinner at Dogfish Head Ale House! Glad we supported a good one!

    What are your best recommendations for a Blue Moon lover? Convert me! I need a better “go to” beer.

    • kjpugs

      SO JEALOUS!!! Love Dogfish Head but haven’t had any in years (since their Midas one I think) so I have to do that soon.

      Ok… Blue Moon. A beer that starts many on the road to craft beer drinking, so good choice! It’s a wheat beer (or witbier) and has that almost-yeasty flavor to it. As you probably know, a citrus slice compliments it nicely. Look for fruity wheat beers, as they’ll combine both flavors really well. I’d suggest Sierra Nevada Kellerweis or Magic Hat #9. Any local brewery should have a wheat beer, so ask to try that first. Some will be hoppier or lighter, but all will have the similar wheat/yeasty flavor. Hefeweizens are a good, similar choice too, and readily available. Some wheat beers (Bavarian “Weissbiers”) have a really cool banana-like flavor. I am struggling to remember some that I tried like that at a beer tasting a few years back. If you try it, you’ll know… it sounds weird but it’s really good! But not something I normally get since I’m not a huge wheat beer fan.

      Let me know if you try anything new that you like!

  • WOO HOO! Anyway – now that you’re A FL girl – add Cigar City to your list of beers to try. You seem to like hoppier things than I do… my favorite is the Guava Grove but I think you’d like pretty much all of their beers but that one! You should be able to find it in stores – maybe even Publix? We have it down here in Ft Myers [brewed in Tampa] so I’m sure it’s in Orlando by now!

    I also recommend that you make a beach trip to the Tampa area… you can go to Cigar City Brewery, Dunedin Brewery [my absolute favorite place in the world], Seventh Sun… lots of great local beers in a super awesome beer friendly community!

  • Amy

    As someone who lives in Milwaukee, where MillerCoors is a large part of the community here, I feel I have to comment on this post.

    First, let me say that Brad and I consider ourselves to be beer connoisseurs too, and we mostly purchase local craft brews. Obviously I’m not drinking beer at the current time, but when I do, we drink we mostly local craft brews that not a lot of people have heard from. You’re right–large scale breweries are big operations that tend to make beer cheaply. One of our favorite activities to do here in Milwaukee is partake in any one of the copious brewery tours available from our local craft brewers. We love Lakefront Brewery & The Milwaukee Brewing Company!

    But I also know that MillerCoors, in a time when unemployment is rampant, has kept a lot of jobs in Milwaukee. Their headquarters moved to Chicago after the merger, which cost this community a lot–but to their credit, MillerCoors is still largely known as a Milwaukee-based company and a large number of people continue to be employed there. As for Leinenkugel’s? Yes, they are owned by MillerCoors and thus have access to those big advertising budgets you discussed, but they are still largely a family-owned company. I just heard an interview with Dick Leinenkugel on the local radio last week, and they do their own original brewing, with their own Beer Master, their own R&D, etc. The Leinenkugels are REALLY involved with their brand and utilize MillerCoors to help them to distribute it…and I think that’s something to note.

    All this to say that I’m not trying to stick up for big evil beer corporations. But I guess I kind of am…because these big corporations used to be little breweries too, and have set the tone for the brewers of today. Because I know the input they’ve had on our community as they’ve grown into the successful companies they’ve become. Because when I reach for a Miller Lite, I actually am helping to support jobs in my community (which obviously can’t be said for someone buying a Miller or AB product in, say, Idaho). So while I can’t say I’ll stop reaching for the Miller Lite while I’m attending a Brewers game at Miller Park, I can say I get where you’re coming from and the sentiment to support small breweries is awesome–and shared between us.

    So, if you are ever in Milwaukee, I would love to take you and B to some of our favorite small breweries (and also drive you past Miller Valley so you can see where it all started!).

    • kjpugs

      I LOVE this comment! What a great point- A-B and MillerCoors are local breweries in some locals. Everyone associates A-B with STL, etc. And like I said, good for them- the beer business as a whole is growing, and I’d rather them create jobs then no beer industry growth, for sure. It’s just not how I want to spend my money, but I don’t wish them out of existence by any means. They have an integral part in America’s beer history. In fact, they were companies I would admire back in the post-prohibition ages where many small breweries did not survive. I think they said in the documentary it was the 70’s or 80’s where they had LESS THAN 50 small breweries in America… can you imagine what a different landscape that is? I guess now it’s just their deceptive marketing and practices that I don’t love and could really do without. And I did hear that Goose Island and Leinenkugel’s are kept pretty much the same as they were. I’d feel better about enjoying one of these since I do know the connection to what they once were is still intact. But I’d rather go pick up a local pint- I wonder if I was in IL/WI if that would be different? Thanks so much for your comment!!! And I am totally taking you up on that and invading Milwaukee sometime! :)

    • Sunny

      Yes this! I am about 2 hours from STL and A-B is a big deal in the city. They provide so many jobs even outside of the brewery itself, like Grant’s Farm (the opposite of the zoo). They also sponsor so many local teams and events that STL would be lost without them.

    • Britny

      I have to second this. I live up around Chippewa Falls, WI, where the original Leinenkugels brewery sits. MillerCoors does distribute their product now, but they are still very much involved. The brewery provides a great deal of tourism dollars as well as many employment opportunities. Leinenkugel’s beer is still crafted in Chip. Falls, where they are whipping up new things all the time. I still consider it a local beer, even though it is distributed across the country now. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, because I can remember when it was really 100% pure Wisconsin. I do applaud you, because, as a true Wisconsinite, why waste time with sub-par beer? ;-)

  • This is a great read! Definitely need to check out that documentary, and I had NO idea Leinenkugel is owned by Miller. My husband and I love craft beers too, we just celebrated my birthday at local brewery on Saturday. Gotta try out some of your favorites!

  • P home brews for fun but we don’t like the same style of beer so I’m stuck buying. Growing up in Brew City, I knew most of this and honestly, I do not feel cheated. I know what I am getting when I pick up a Pabst and I know what I am getting when I pick up a Sprecher (when I shop at Walmart vs when I shop at Ward’s). I still drink Leinies because its beer I grew up with and while its owned by a big company, most of the day-to-day operations are run locally and it brings money to a small town like Chippewa Falls.

    Either way, you’re going to LOVE the Dunedin Brewery! (And Cigar City, too!)

  • I’m going to pass this along to my husband to read, since I’ve got an allergy to beer and can’t drink it. He always wants to buy local beers, but as you point out, with the distributors, it’s sometimes hard to find them in the grocery store. From what I hear though, there’s soooo many good, local beers out here in NC!

  • When I’m in a splurge mood, I love a good Hefeweizen, but we’re broke as a joke. Usually, it’s Michelob Light, or Stella if I’m feelin’ fancy. Until we get real paychecks, this probably won’t be changing anytime soon.

    I used to get really fired up about documentaries like this – but then I discovered that to find a real documentary (which is supposed to be unbiased) is nearly impossible. There are too many sides to a story for me to make a split second decision. A few years ago, I was horrified when I watched Food, Inc. Then I took a few courses at a land grant university and learned that parts of that were factually incorrect. Not to mention, A-B and MillerCoors, Wal-Mart, and tons of other big businesses have given a lot of people a lot of jobs – and pretty much all started out as the little guy. How fair is it to promote a capitalist society until someone actually achieves the American Dream, at which point we feel the need to rip them down? Not to say that I support what major corporations have done (you know I love you KJ, but I’m a liberal), but it’s tough to fault them when we spend so much time protecting their right to do this. And they have contributed to local economies in a positive way.

    After all of that, I say I’m torn. As a former small business owner, I like to support the little guys, but I don’t sweat too hard over it when I can’t.

    Love this post!

    • kjpugs

      Totally agree as far as documentaries go… it’s nearly impossible to be truly unbiased. But no person can truly be unbiased because most of our decisions are based off our biases from our lives and experiences. I appreciate the history and what they’ve brought to the industry.

      However I see this as more of an ethical issue than a political one. I don’t like some of A-B and MillerCoors business practices. Every company offers value, in the form of their business and also in the workforce they employ. I respect what they do bring to our country and economy but for me, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, and I choose to support smaller breweries.

      But that’s the great part about our country, right?

      And I’ve been there and bought some AWFUL budget beer… ugh. We just buy less now to save money but I LOVE when we get to indulge!

  • I was never a fan of Miller or Bud or any of the highly advertised brands. Though I’d like to ‘buy local,’ if I have to use 5 gallons of gas to find something, that’s sorta counterproductive. I do like to try local brews when I’m traveling – I drank Tsingtao in China, and Harpoon IPA in Vermont (this one is yummy). I also like Yuengling a lot.

  • Becca

    Since you’re close to Georgia (well closer then when you were in Indy) I gotta speak up for Terrapin! I went to school at UGA, and they’re located in Athens. I unfortunately never visited, but love their Golden Ale. Very interesting post, so sad to learn so many of the beers I love (summer shandy, say it isn’t so!) are owned by those companies. I’m not into dark or hoppy beers, but I like to pretend I’m cool by at least knowing about them!

    • Ditto Becca. I’ve been to Terrapin’s festival that happens every September, great brewery. Terrapin is one of the reasons we were sad to move away from Athens! Sometimes you can find it in stores, they sold it in our local Publix there but perhaps not in FL.

  • Well as I have very little access to the beers mentioned in the post I obviously am not a regular consumer of them but I will say when Mr. H and I celebrated the 4th over here we bought a few Coors because it is the quintessential taste of home an expat or immigrant in Sweden can get at times like that. What I would have really liked is not imported here so you take what you can get!

    I used to review Swedish and European beers we buy over here but have been slacking and this is really prompting me to spread the word on some great brews though!

    If you can find it Swedish beers are great and really excel at Christmas and Easter releases (holiday specific drinks in general are very big here!) and I would highly reccomend anything from Åbro or Mariestads.

    There is also a new brewery called Brutal Brewing in Sweden and from their website “It is an initiative of employees of one of Sweden’s leading breweries – Spendrups. Brutal Brewing is controlled and operated by employees of Spendrups on a “free time” basis. We all have regular day jobs in the brewery. Our committed group consists of clerks and brewers that share the same core belief. We are serious about beer, but not serious about much of anything else. Our simple mission is to create great brews and have fun. That pretty much sums it up.”
    We have had three or four of their brews and they have been amazing so hopefully getting the word out about them can get them stocked beyond Sweden!

    And one last note in my extra long comment is that Finnish beer is super awesome too!

    Ok actually one last thing do you remember any beers they had in the Norway section of Epcot?

  • With all due respect to your choice and opinions about what brands you choose, I feel compelled to comment as well. For me, AB is a family business. My older sister is a Brewmaster for AB, the only female to hold the title in this country 9and the youngest too, while we’re at it). She has spent her career there – through the entire AB-Inbev merger. She started as an intern, and now 10 years later she is running a plant. I can’t speak for every employee in the company, but I have seen her experience and I can tell you that they are a fantastic organization to work for. They might not be American-owned (neither is Miller, nor many other large CPG/food companies) but they employ thousands of Americans in manufacturing facilities all over this country. They treat people well, offer great benefits, and have a fantastic culture. They have given a ton back to the St Louis community, and they sponsor educational endeavors (scholarships, research facilities, grants, etc) in agricultural and scientific programs here in the midwest and beyond as well. I’ve seen the inside of their facilities (and not just the standard tour), and I have seen the time and effort they put into developing strong leaders like my sister who believe in quality product and a safe, enjoyable place to work.

    Sure, they are a huge corporation. Not everything is perfect in big companies, of course. All big companies have downsides. I work for another of the biggest food companies in the world. To one of your points of contention, we employ (as do AB) hundreds of people to spend time with store managers to develop plans for their shelves, and that means getting their product in the best position. That doesn’t make them an evil corporation, it’s the nature of a consumer-driven marketplace. As a consumer, you have every right to decide (with your dollar) what you do and do not purchase. But if you take issue with AB’s practices, I challenge you to look around. Where will it stop? Do you shop at chain stores? Do you buy big branded food and household product? Do you buy store brands (because they are co-manufactured by most of the major brand companies). It’s not just AB, not by a long shot. Even the retailers themselves design their stores to suck you in and take as much money as they can before you leave. Research shopper psychology and consumer insights. Everything in a store, from the tile on the floor to the width of the aisles are constructed with care and thought.

    I spent the last couple of days at a manufacturing facility. The 500+ employees at that site are happy, considering the foreign acquisition that bought them out 10 years ago secured their jobs in a world where American manufacturing is shaky at best. I am so proud to work for them, and I am so proud that my sister works for AB-Inbev. It might not be American-owned, but it IS American-made. I am not trying to change your mind – you’re entitled to whatever you want to drink! – but there is another side to this, too.

    If you have an issue with the products offered at your stores, you’re doing the right thing and not buying them. But please don’t think that a company is bad just because it’s big. I wish you could talk to my sister. She has a passion for those products that is amazing to see and I think it would make you feel better about the whole thing. And she’s hardly the only one who feels that way about the beers they make.

    This got long, but I mean it as a means of discussion, not a rant. Cheers!

    • kjpugs

      Great comment and awesome points! I think it’s wonderful that your sister has reached such a level at A-B. The beer world needs more women! My favorite brewmaster ever was Liz at Rock Bottom CP- I love seeing the ladies rep in such a male-dominated industry.

      I hope my post made people think and didn’t infer that A-B or MillerCoors are somehow evil. I feel that they do, in some cases, take advantage of their size and flex their muscles when they shouldn’t. Like many large companies, I assume. It’s great to hear how well your sister is treated as an employee.

      And you are right- we make decisions with our dollars. While I make the decision to support craft brewers, I would never approach someone and tell them to unhand that Budweiser. I believe I mentioned in other comments to comments that all companies, regardless of size or affiliation, offer value- they employ people. I hope I don’t come off that I’m disputing that. I know what a huge part of STL A-B is. I went on the tour while I was in STL and was in awe of the years and years of history and hard work that went into such a huge operation. Like you said, I am just choosing how to spend my money. And shopping local is something I care about. I hate shopping at places like Walmart and avoid it. But I do so due to research, not assumptions. It turns out beer is easy since most places have a nice list with beer origins on it :-) but it’s something I take it account in all areas when I can and am constantly thinking about. Just like I said some beer is better than no beer – some jobs are better than none. And regardless of who owns a company if they provide American jobs, then that is something we can be happy about and proud of for sure.

      Thanks for taking the time to share all this!!!! I’d love to hear more about your sister… aka I may or may not be super jeal.

  • Stacy

    Hi there! My first time commenting but I’ve read quite a few of your blog entries (being a fellow pug lover). My husband got into brewing beer very simply with a Mr. Brew kit. Then he moved up from there. Not sure who owns Mr. Beer but there are other kits out there also. We’re in GA about an hour south of ATL and home-brewing is big here. We tried to go to Sweetwater last weekend but got there kind of late and it was packed. I love craft brews and love going to liquor stores (or package stores as they’re called here) and looking for unusual beers to try. In ATL there is a place called Hop City with an excellent selection of beer and wine and they also sell home-brewing equipment. I guess I like home-brewing because you know exactly how much it cost and what went into it – stuff like that always makes me feel better at the end of the day… Have a good one!

    • kjpugs

      Thanks for commenting, Stacy!!! I tried Sweetwater’s IPA when I was in ATL a few months ago and plan to have another one (or three!) when I’m back next week. I hear wonderful things. And thanks for the home brewing tips- I hope it’s something we’ll be doing soon!

  • Nan

    That Doc. has been in my netflix cue for ages and we’ve never watched it. D used to work for Bud (well, the distributor anyway) – he added the movie to the list. We have some awesome local brew houses around here (& the empty growlers in the kitchen to prove it – hah!).

  • […] We all caught up over beer and then Hill and I went to a very late and delicious dinner at Gennaro. On the way home we popped into Whole Foods to get more beer, dessert, and our favorite… Tamari almonds! DELISH! We gave Pat his first Tamari almonds when we got back, and all watched Beer Wars. What can I say, I’m passionate and convincing! […]

  • Juan Crabtreeio

    Not sure how I came across this blog but I like your style when it comes to beer preference! I just put a 1/6 Keg of Osiris in my kegerator last week, I would say you and big daddy should come over and drink some while watching the Bears stomp the Colts next week but alas, I will be at the game…good stuff…

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>