Big beer is flexing it’s muscles as craft beer encroaches on more of their territory by introducing, sponsoring and/or blocking legislation to create an “equal” playing field. No matter that the amount of beer produced by a macro brewery is sometimes 100 times more, or greater. Competition is good for consumers and with craft beer expanding, that is what is in store. Big beer feels differently, if their actions recently are any indication. Should we pay even more for craft beer so that share holders can retain their large pocket books? Below, I take a quick look at recent happenings and let you decide.
Recently, in Florida, a bill (SB 1714) was passed that put restrictions on how much beer a brewery could sell past a 2000-keg limit. Past that limit and the brewery would be required to use a distributor. Even if it is going to sell the beer at their brewing facility. A 2000-keg limit in Florida lawmaker’s eyes, is equivalent to a macrobrew producer that last reported producing 5 billion gallons of beer. The bill was funded in part by the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association which has controlled distribution in Florida for decades.
And now reports have surfaced of beer giant AB-In Bev pushing to have a bill rescended that was created and passed in South Carolina. This bill, dubbed the Stone Bill, was specifically crafted to entice the San Diego Craft Brew power house, Stone Brewing Company, to open an East Coast wing of their operations in the state. Multiple craft breweries on the West Coast are looking to move East as their market saturation of the West Coast reaches its peak. Breweries such as Deschutes and Green Flash. If this bill is killed, you can imagine the impact it would bring with it for Craft Breweres looking to move to South Carolina, or even the East Coast. Something AB-In Bev would be very happy about.
Craft beer sales have been steadily gaining, year over year as illustrated by the Brewers Association. An interesting statistic when you consider that, in 2013, the overall United States beer market was down 2% in total sales. Couple that with the 18% growth of Craft Breweries in 2013 and you begin to understand why Big Beer is scared.
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