Big shake up on the local beer scene: Goose Island Beer Co., responsible for the delicious (Bourbon Country Brand Stout) and the hugely popular (312 wheat ale) is being bought out by Anheuser-Busch.
The makers of Budweiser will pay a total of $38.8 million for the brewery on Fulton Street that sends its beers across the globe. Though jarring in an industry that prides itself on independence and creativity, the move isn’t completely unexpected. Anheuser-Busch has held a minority stake in the company since 2006, and been playing a role in distribution of the company’s beer.
Brewmaster Greg Hall, whose father John Hall started the brewery in 1988, will be stepping down and replaced by (the appropriately named) head brewer Brett Porter. Porter was previous head brewer of well-respected Oregon brewery Deschutes Brewery before coming to Goose last year.
I’m told Greg will announce his future plans in the next few weeks.
Goose’s two brew pubs in the city, on Clark Street and Clybourn Avenue, are not involved in the deal and will continue to be owned by John Hall and a group of partners.
I just got off the phone with John Hall, who is remaining as the company’s chief executive officer. He said Goose’s commitment to interesting and creative beer, like the recently released Pepe Nero (a black saison) or the upcoming Big John (a stout aged with cocoa nibs) will not change.
"They didn’t buy us to change what we’re doing," he said.
If AB was going to water down the product, “I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have worked 23 years to build what I have to (throw) it away in five minutes.”
Hall also issued a letter to Goose fans this morning on the company’s web site, touting the ability for “growth and innovation” as a result of the deal.