Don’t Fear Big Beer

22 10 2007

Last week, the beer world — and thus, by proxy, the business world — stirred when the wig-wearers at Coors and Miller announced that their companies were arranged to wed. It’s to be a glamorous wedding,

Now, the raw market share if Miller and Coors merged would still only reach the mid-30s, a dozen or so percentage points behind Bud’s behemoth. But what that means is that there are now two major pillars of American macrobrewing. And if it resembles the political structure of this country, it’s kind of like that. Craft brewing, once the norm in America, then virtually non-existent, is not the Green Party, or Libertarians (I guess it’s kinda like libertarians).

It’s a whole new party, one that has shaken, and will continue to shake the foundations of beer culture here, returning the judgement on taste and creativity to the drinkers and not corporate execs who force it down their throats, says Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery.

I wrote a post two weeks or so back talking about how the beer giants are responding to the threat of craft brewers by not resting on their laurels, but pressing those laurels in the face of drinkers. Like an aging athlete walking around with a bag full of trophies that he’ll brandish when confronted. They’re resting their ambitions on their size, advertising their companies instead of their products, hoping that drinkers will be impressed by what has come before instead of following their tastebuds and minds.

Now, it appears, they’re traveling the same path cut by Catholics in response to the proliferation of science and the skepticism: Consolidation. By joining together in force, by accruing strength in numbers, purveyors of religion were able to bully the less powerful into imposed belief. The Church employed a threatening vocabulary, not to mention a good deal of violence, and made an already rigid dogma even more inflexible.

We saw how that worked out.

Coors and Miller will merge, and the resulting effect will allow their execs a quick, smug breath. But we have seen the fall of Big Steel, of GM, Ford because the scale of the operations made the companies too large for any flexibility and adaptibility. Size matters here, but ultimately, Americans are becoming more and more concerned with how you use it.





2 responses

22 10 2007
Don’t Fear Big Beer at Stafford Loan Consolidation

[…] Original post by Dispatches from the Lower East Side […]

17 12 2007
A Bitter Turn « Dispatches from the Lower East Side

[…] more importantly, big breweries can afford to weather these prices. The Big 3 (soon to be the Big 2), with their hulking margins, won’t be affected as acutely. Also, because it’s the […]

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