Tuesday 8 September 2015

The earth falls off its axis

Empires rise and fall, kings and queens come and go, all political careers end in failure, while the sale 
of a potent striker to a neighbouring football team is cause for grief. Kids leave home, girlfriends 
and boyfriends grow apart, parents die.

Breweries and beers also wax and wane. In some towns people used to define their identity by the brewery, the football team and the regiment — all gone, apart perhaps from the football team who now play in a different place under a different name. Pubs close and their shades stand on the corner of a street in a house through whose windows a lampshade might stand where Fred the butcher went in for a ‘alf-and’alf. Rock groups fall apart, singers deliver destructive habits, guitarists go awol and the last song is sung and we mourn and go on.

Heineken buys 50% of Lagunitas and the earth falls off its axis if some of the responses on social media are anything to go by. What took them so long is all I can say? The men and women who set up the breweries of the 1980s and 1990s are growing older; they are not patriarchal family breweries like you still see in patches of England; the kids might have gone onto do something else (and maybe been just as successful). You want the beer to be good, the people around you still to have jobs, and it’s life, it’s business and you get a good deal (but don’t get your beer made by Grolsch, that’s the pits even though I like a Grolsch now and again) and life goes on and great beer remains to be made and if the deal really goes sour there’s plenty more beer to be drunk (not Heineken though, I always find it overly sweet and prone to cause biliousness). Commons for instance, Hair of the Dog, Buoy, Fort George, Odd Otter, Cloudwater, Thornbridge, De La Senne, Birrifico Italiano. 

Heineken takes a 50% share in Lagunitas: it’s hardly Isis at the gates. Now that would be worrying.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting points, I largely agree about Lagunitas but i think the pattern is clear now, the surviving international breweries, and thy may get smaller (in number) soon, will put up a hedge of good craft brands to stay in the market. It really is all to the good, it is everything people always wanted, better beer and more of it. The complaints, although they are fewer now I think, really don't make sense. The only concern I would have is if big companies use their distribution muscle to restrict growth of independent craft brewers. Governments and competition law authorities need to be watchful on this score.