America's craft brewers aim to raise $213 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch

America's craft brewers aim to raise $213 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch

CultureOctober 16, 2017 By Lindsey Kline

For years, Big Beer has been picking on the little guys.

Multi-billion dollar conglomerates have been acquiring craft breweries left and right — so small, independent brewers must either sacrifice their independence, or struggle to set themselves apart in a misleading beer industry.

But now, craft brewers are fighting back. The Brewer’s Association, a not-for-profit organization based out of Boulder, Colorado, that represents the country’s small independent brewers, has launched the largest crowdfunding campaign ever: the Take Craft Back campaign, which aims to raise $213 billion to buy Anheuser-Bush InBev.

“They’ve been buying us up, so now we’re buying them up,” Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewer’s Association, says over the phone. “Although it is a little bit ambitious, this is a real crowdfunding campaign, and none of the money will be collected unless all $213 billion is raised.”

To announce this monumental movement, the Brewer’s Association released a Take Craft Back launch video, in which an avowed beer-lover named Andy asks us —

“When you think of craft beer, do you think of factories cranking out hundreds of millions of barrels a year, a publicly traded company worth 213 billion? No, you think of independence, entrepreneurship, worn out cargo pants as an acceptable workplace clothing choice, breweries reviving old neighborhoods, creating culture, putting people to work, and doing something for America.”

Unfortunately, these small, valuable craft brewers face a powerful foe. Since 2011, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the biggest of the Big Beer corporations, has quietly acquired 10 small and independent breweries.

However, the packaging and marketing of these bought-out brews won’t change a bit. Big Beer is attempting to create an “illusion of choice,” while also making moves to become the only choice.

“The illusion of choice is a big concern,” Herz says, “and we don’t want to see this become a marketplace reality. It’s not what’s best for the beer-lover.”

When a recent Nielsen survey asked beer-drinkers what they care about, independence came up time and time again. But with the industry’s current lack of transparency, consumers are confused. They can’t tell by looking at packaging or reading ads who’s truly making independent beer.

So the Brewer’s Association hopes to make major changes, either by using the Independent Craft Brewing Seal, or by turning the tables and buying up the big dogs.

Of course, the Brewer’s Association doesn’t realistically expect to raise billions of dollars. “If everybody on the planet gave $10, we’d still only be a third of the way there,” Herz says, “but small and independent craft brewers are big dreamers, so its okay to dream.”

As Andy puts it, “We’re gonna take on the oppressive Big Beer machine before they can bleed the passion out of the independent craft brewing culture forever. You hear that Anheuser Busch? Pretty soon, you’ll be working for us!”