Big Beer rollups have been buying up craft breweries for years. This has, for obvious reasons, caused some concern in the craft brewing segment. Goose Island used to be a craft brewery, but back in 2011 Anheuser-Busch InBev bought the Chicago-based brewery for $39 million. Are they still a craft brewery? According to Craft vs. Crafty: A Statement from the Brewers Association, Goose Island is not. According to the Brewers Association, representing the interests of craft beer: “An American craft brewer is defined as small and independent. Their annual production is 6 million barrels of beer or less and no more than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.”
Regardless of the legitimacy of that definition, certain craft breweries are still not afraid to go Big Beer and enjoy it. According to this excellent article on Boston.com, Goose Island seems to be growing, expanding and producing the same great beer it always used to — happily — or said Goose Island Brewer Brian Taylor and Educator Suzanne Wolcott.
“We got a lot of push back, people saying ‘Oh no,’ but it actually worked out fine,” said Wolcott. “Even if you walk into the brewery it looks and feels exactly the same except there’s a few more safety lines on the floor [laughs], so you don’t run into a forklift or something.”
So what’s changed? According to the aforementioned article, the merger has taken the responsibilities of brewing flagship beers Honkers Ale and 312 Urban Wheat away from Goose Island. Now, the brewery simply focuses on specialty beers like Bourbon County Brand Stout.
“When it happened, I was a little nervous,” Taylor said. ”What this has done has allowed us to brew one Bourbon County a week. It takes 36 hours to brew a batch of Bourbon County. You can imagine when we have 312 orders to fill, Bourbon County is going to suffer.”