Goosed on the Near West Side
03/30/2011 10:00 PM
We love Goose Island beer here at Chicago Journal. Itís a fact.
From 312 to Matilda, from their India Pale Ale to Harvest Ale, we canít resist snagging a 12-pack every now and again.
So when we heard the company had been bought by beer monolith Anheuser-Busch, we were surprised, and maybe even a little bit shocked.
But after thinking on it, weíve decided itís a good thing. Hereís why.
Goose Island couldnít keep up with demand. In stores like Dominickís and Binnyís, this may not have been apparent. But beyond the ever-present Honkerís Ale and a few others, it was difficult, to say the least, to get your hands on a bottle of Matilda, not to mention Bourbon County Stout.
With the cash from Anheuser-Busch, productionís being immediately ramped up on those extra-premium (and extra-delicious) brews.
Distributors were threatening to take them off the shelves. This may seem counterintuitive and almost crazy for Chicagoís most popular local beer brand, but Goose Islandís new brewmaster Brett Porter (formerly the companyís head brewer) swears itís true. Distributors couldnít keep up with demand for the beers, so shelves they had designated for Goose beers in stores were sitting empty, leading to lost revenue.
Anheuser-Busch kind of knows what itís doing. Yes, Natural (a.k.a. ďNattyĒ) Light may be the worst beer known to man, but the company has become much more than that. They make Stella Artois. They make Rolling Rock. They help distribute Redhook. They have experts who can help nurture new beers.
Theyíre promising to keep Goose Island Goose Island. Craft brewing is a massive market today, posting massive growth every year in the U.S. as the old beer markets erode. Itís in Anheuser-Buschís best interest to keep Goose Island looking like an independent craft brewer, even if itís not.
The only thing we worry about is what happens when the craft beer market slows down. Will the monolith swallow our once-local beer company and destroy it? Only time will tell.
In the meantime, weíre hunting for some Bourbon County Stout. Chicagoís best.