The Facebook page of a local brewery lit up with condemnations: Loyal beer drinkers said the brewers were greedy “sellouts.” Some fans threatened to boycott the brand. One declared he would stop wearing a T-shirt promoting the beer.
What did the brewers do to provoke such a backlash? Change the hops or yeast? Abandon a favorite ale recipe? No, the furor erupted after 10 Barrel Brewing announced last month that it was being bought by the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which to the horror of craft-beer enthusiasts, makes Budweiser and Bud Light.
The acquisition was another example of mega-brewers trying to counter declining sales by tapping into the growth of small craft breweries. And it drew the ire of devoted customers who blasted the corporation as an enemy of the craft beer industry and “the worst guys in the game.”
People in and around Bend take their beer seriously. Since its first craft brewery opened in 1988, this city of 80,000 has grown from a struggling timber town to a trendy destination featuring skiing, golf, fly fishing and mountain biking, all of which can be capped off at the end of the day with a fine, locally brewed craft beer.
The city and the surrounding area now claim nearly 30 breweries, many with owners looking for fulfillment in the beer, not the bottom line.
The owners of 10 Barrel, twin brothers Chris and Jeremy Cox and Garrett Wales, say Anheuser-Busch was already handling their distribution. The idea of selling their operation came up over a few beers.
Read more about Oregon Beer, craft beers and sales to major brewers who are suffering declining sales
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