This past April, Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired the small Virginia craft brewery Devils Backbone. To many in the beer community, it signaled that 2016 might continue the trend of 2015 in which the largest beer company in America bought out four formerly independent brewers – Elysian, Golden Road, Four Peaks and Breckenridge – more than it had in any previous year. It also once again opened the door to continue the ongoing “big beer” versus “craft beer” debate.
When a craft brewery joins the ranks of AB InBev, it gets filed under the business’s The High End division – a group that also includes Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel and Virtue Cider. Conversely, these newly acquired brands are no longer represented by the Brewers Association, a trade association dedicated to promoting the interests of small and independent American craft brewers.
For many in the beer world, these two entities represent opposite sides of the industry. Some diehard craft beer advocates refuse to drink products by any brewer that doesn’t fit their ethos; meanwhile, people who have grown up on Bud Light wonder why all those beer snobs can be so damn stodgy when it comes to simply enjoying a pint.