The Battle for Beer Distribution

This is what it looks like when a massive industry is disrupted by those with less money and power. There’s a huge amount of money in selling beer and it’s one of the oldest industries in the US. While craft beer only makes up a very small percentage of total production the trend is clear. The incumbents are showing their teeth.

Distributors are buying politicians and ever more restrictive laws to control the exploding craft beer market. The concern seems to be that small businesses have less need of middlemen.

The Justice Department is investigating AB Inbev for buying distributors to limit craft brewers from accessing the market.

Distributors have always held the keys which is more worrisome than the bar cartels (for example the 2014 dust up over pay to play in Boston) because distributors can effectively prevent a craft beer from being sold in any store or bar outside of the brewery. The Puritans did a right proper job screwing up our alcohol laws here in Massachusetts. There’s a lot of pressure on small breweries from all corners except for the consumer market.

I don’t think AB Inbev wants Miller because they are worried about Miller Lite. My hope is that the Justice Department throws a wrench into their plans.