I almost hate to link to this piece because it gives them traffic but in the larger scheme of things, I’m a tiny blogger and they are a media machine.
But, the article is essentially suggesting that large breweries could step in to produce styles that craft brewers only do in limited numbers, as a way to regain market share.
Which, of course, is a massive ‘duh’, while at the same time ignoring how incredibly stupid the suggestion is.
Here’s why: Macro breweries make beer that is there to appeal to everyone. This is why is has the consistency and flavors that it does, along with using the adjuncts it does, specifically rice and corn, which are incredibly cheap. They need to produce a beer that is bland enough that no one will find it objectionable and they need to produce it inexpensively so that is why they produce the style they do: American light lagers exist in order to get as many consumers to purchase it as possible.
Rice and corn do not belong is saisons, barrel aged beers, or really any other style. So in order for those macro breweries to produce the same level of quality and consistency they would have to do one of two things:
1) Make an inferior product. That’s right; they would have to make a product that isn’t as good, in order to keep the costs down, either because the quality of the ingredients for those beers isn’t up to the standard that so many craft breweries are demanding OR to make such a watered down version of the style in order to appeal to everyone, the beer itself tastes watered down. So who does that appeal to? Nobody who is already drinking craft beer products.
2) Take a hit on the margins. Say ImBev decides to go all in on a proper barrel aged beer. OK; now how do you sell that on a national scale to the audience you want (which is, essentially, everyone)? They accept lower profits, putting money towards the ingredients, skill and time necessary. But who is going to accept that idea? Less money? Are you crazy? Nobody in a position of authority, is going to accept this concept, that’s for sure.
So where’s the incentive for the big breweries to really even try?
Don’t get me wrong: I think that if the macro breweries decided to produce a proper IPA, or bourbon aged beer, or whatever they want, they could do it. They have the skill and the resources. What they lack is the conviction to make the beer that people like me want to drink and accept less profit for doing so, than the profit they get from the millions of people buying Bud Light. There’s just nothing in it for them and as a result, there’s nothing they have for me.