Craft brewers group wants $213B to buy out Anheuser-Busch

WASHINGTON — The Brewers Association, a trade group representing craft brewers, has kicked off a campaign it calls “Take Craft Back,” and has set up a crowdsourcing fundraiser aimed at raising $213 billion to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer giant that’s been acquiring small breweries across the country.

There is no chance the group could raise $213 billion, even with a swell of support for the cause, but the association says it’s really about the message.

“This is a tongue-in-cheek campaign, for sure, about a very serious message on behalf of small independent craft brewers in the U.S.,” Julia Herz with the Brewers Association told WTOP.

“They’re getting bought out and the beer landscape is changing,” she said.

Anheuser Busch has acquired close to a dozen craft brewers, including Lexington, Virginia-based Devils Backbone.

The association contends that those beers are still being marketed as craft brews, even though they no longer fit the definition of what a small, craft brewer is.

Devils Backbone has said it will continue to operate independently. It did not return WTOP’s call for a comment on this story.

While the Brewers Association did not disagree that craft brewers create a product that attracts a major industry player and results in a big payday for themselves, partners and employees, it does say it thinks the issue is about transparency.

“Put your name on the label of the breweries that you purchase, because us beer lovers have a right to know when we’re buying a beer from a small and independent producer or a large, global brewery,” Herz said.

The association defines a craft brewer as small — producing less than 6 million barrels of beer a year — independently-owned and producing traditional beers, not malt beverages.

About 98 percent of the 5,700 breweries in the U.S. are small, independent craft brewers, but they account for less than 13 percent of the volume of beer in the U.S.

Anheuser Busch has acquired 10 craft brewers since 2011, starting with Goose Island and most recently Wicked Weed.

They are part of Anheuser-Busch’s draft beer division, called The High End.

While raising $213 billion to buy out Anheuser Busch is extremely unlikely, 7,400 supporters have already pledged nearly $2.4 million at the time this story was posted.

You can check out the Brewers Association’s Take Craft Back campaign here.

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