If you haven’t already heard the news let me break it down for you. Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies, a couple of the biggest if not the biggest online homebrew outlets have been acquired by AB InBev aka Anheiser Busch. I’ve had a week or so to digest this news and without getting too dramatic here are my thoughts.
I’ve watched over the last couple years as AB InBev has acquired many small craft breweries. It has been no secret what their strategy has been in this process. As a consumer you might not know, might not care. It’s your right to buy whatever you want, support whatever brand you like etc. Me personally I have been strongly against these buyouts. Of course it is just business but it goes so much further than that. They are very aggressively going after the craft breweries and trying to get rid of them. A lot of times with unethical practices. This is a community that we have worked hard to grow together. The craft brewing industry is something I feel strongly for. Anyways other folks have written great op ed pieces on this. I will leave it to them and won’t ramble on any further on this point. Here is one of my favorites: "What Selling Out is Actually About"
So when I heard that they were now setting their guns to the homebrew market and the buyout of Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies I didn’t know what to think. I still don’t really know what to think. The bottom line for me is that it is unsettling and I don’t like it. Like I said it is obvious that they want to dismantle the craft beer industry but home brewing? They have made fun of the hobby on their commercials but really what is the end goal on this one? Trying to cut off craft brewing at knees starting at the very bottom? Starting with people making beer at home? It seems they want their strong-arm in every single aspect of this craft beer movement.
Full disclosure I have had a relationship with Northern Brewer for the last few years. A really good one in fact. I admired Northern Brewer, their commitment to the hobby, the way they operated and the innovative products they were bringing to the homebrew market. I have had many conversations with them in the past about the home brewing industry, how we could improve it and grow it. We were always on the same page. I am even one of the few stores in the country that carries their branded products i.e. Big Mouth Bubblers, Dark Star Burners, Edelmetal Burners, Cannonball Kegs, Maelstrom Stir Plates, Mega Pot Boil Kettles ect.
Over this last week I have taken a step back and really thought about this. I have decided I won’t be selling any of these products anymore. I still have quite a few of them in the shop but will be phasing them out. I won’t be re ordering any more pallets of these items from Northern Brewer. This has nothing to do with the people that I have relationships with at NB or even with you the consumer. You can make the decision for yourself if you want to support these companies. You just won’t be able to do it here at my shop. I can’t personally contribute to the entity that is trying to take down everything we have worked so hard to build up. I highly encourage you to support your local breweries and your local homebrew shops. Invest in the people and companies that are investing in you and your communities.
Okay. End Rant.