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Is Goose Island sale good for the company?


Staff reporter

Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011

Updated: Sunday, April 10, 2011 20:04

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Graphic by Alex V. Hernandez

For craft beer drinkers in Chicago, Goose Island was the trailblazer that helped bring awareness of the microbrewery trend to the Midwest. When it first opened in 1988, Goose Island was virtually the lone microbrewery in town. Most Chicagoans who traded up from Bud, Miller or Coors to better beers did so because they took their first sip of a Goose Island Honker's Ale or IPA. 

Consequently, many Chicagoans hold Goose beer dear to their heart. It was not surprising then that many in Chicago were disillusioned when Goose announced recently that they had been purchased by Anheuser Busch for $39 million. Goose was the grandfather of ‘em all—the wise old sage who had paved the way for the success of so many others. What did it say that they were ready to hang it up?

Among other things, it says that Goose had gotten a bit too big for its own good. Anheuser Busch already had a distribution deal with Goose, helping them reach store shelves all across the nation.

Goose founder John Hall and his son, Greg, have been adamant that certain things about the way Goose beer is made will not change. Both brewpubs will remain independently operated, and most of Goose's brewing will still take place in Chicago. But, ultimately, Goose Island as Chicagoans knew it will likely never be the same. Make no mistake—AB didn't offer to buy up Goose because they want to expand the craft beer market nationwide. Ultimately, though AB will no doubt enjoy having a hand in both sides of the business, Goose beers cut into the revenue that AB most relies on—sales of Budweiser, Bud Light and similar

"macro" style American lagers. These beers are cheaper to produce, and therefore earn AB more money.

And this is where their allegiances ultimately lie.

So head down to the Goose Island brewpubs soon, and enjoy a delicious Goose beer like Matilda or Bourbon County Stout while you can. There's no guarantee they'll be around forever. Better yet, stop by one of Chicago's many new brewpubs and breweries, such as Half Acre, Revolution, Piece Pizzeria or Haymarket. Their success was built on the foundation that Goose provided, and with the Goose sale, the future of great craft beer in Chicago now rests firmly in their hands. 

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