Back To The Good Stuff

Please pardon me for saying this, but the recent post about the M&A of A-B InBev and SABMiller was for the beer doctor downright depressing. Why? Because all it means for beer lovers like myself is that we will see yet another increase in the price of beer, for no other reason than to make these avaricious business types take even more of our god damn money, while simultaneously, forcing many good folks to lose their jobs, in the holy name of streamline efficiency. It may be an early Christmas for the shareholders, but for everybody else, it is just more difficulties.

I take solace in the fact that the creation of beer is far greater than these counting-house concerns.

A prime example of this, is the re-appearance of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 2015cele-bottle-pint Now brewed in California and North Carolina, this new world holiday classic remains one of the very best. Its hop signature is Sierra Nevada’s IPA contribution to the holiday/winter portfolio. Their hop-centric concerns are now manifest in all kinds of artisan brewing creations.
Which I should not be surprised that America’s oldest brewery now makes a seasonal version of this approach, in Yuengling IPLYuengling-IPL-B_496625fc7e08e1a56d30726c29f10023 Which is a very hop-forward lager. What I enjoy about this one is the raw (some would say harsh) profile of the hops. A showcase for Cascade, Citra, Belma and Bravo hops, combined with Pale and Munich malts, and given a lively twist through the use of Yuengling’s house lager yeast. This is a powerfully flavoured 5% beer.

As November is halfway to December, I have come to realize after many years of sampling, that the best way to enjoy Great Lakes Christmas Alechristmas-fixed_1is to drink this as fresh as possible. This legendary Midwestern wassail is truly a fantastic recipe. It is no wonder that people in Cleveland line up to experience the first tasting.

When it comes to the granddaddy of American wassail,ageing is not important. The 41st. edition of Anchor’s Our Special Ale is a kind of return to those earlier versions of their Christmas ale where the emphasis was on the malts, dialling back a bit on the spicy complexity, this dark brown (nearly black) pour has a subtle nose, and an almost stout like body. Beautifully balanced, this signature beer could have only come from the Anchor Brewery in San Francisco. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year indeed.

ONE BREW TO RULE THEM ALL

Concerning the A-B InBev SABMiller merger, let me say that although the subject involves the production of beer, this is not about beer. It is all about money. Which is par for the course whenever speculative Wall street and entities such as JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs become involved. Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev summed it all up with: “We believe this combination will generate significant growth opportunities and create enhanced value to the benefit of all stakeholders.” Envisioning this merger as a way to create “one of the world’s leading consumer products companies.”

The go-ahead for giving birth to this behemoth was made possible when the two largest shareholders of SABMiller , Altria the tobacco giant that once owned Miller Brewing when it was called Phillip Morris, and the Santa Domingo family of Colombia agreed to the merger, with a discount of the stock’s cash price, which was done, the New York Times observed, “in order to avoid a huge tax bill from the sale of their holdings.”

In order to pass through U.S. regulatory hoops, the Miller brand in North America will be bought by MolsonCoors. Making Miller Lite and Coors LIght under their control. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out: “taking complete control of MillerCoors would still benefit Molson, which could cut as much as $500 million in costs from the joint venture by eliminating breweries along the US-Canada border, reducing staff and improving procurement, according to analysts.”
The WSJ should know. Just ask the staff at National Geographic, when Rupert Murdoch bought their company.

Why the merger? The two main reasons cited are that A-B InBev wants to have greater presence in the continent of Africa and that they want to get a presence in China, with that holiest crown jewel of beer sales, the number one in volume, SNOW.

The purchase of the SABMiller portfolio involves an accumulation of a huge chunk of world beer culture, something that the money driven mainstream media tend to ignore. What will become of Dogbolter dark lager, the Australian beer dry hopped with cascade hops? What are the plans for Rhino Lager, Zambia’s “the pride of the copperbelt“, or St. Louis from Botswana. Will Impala the cassava based beer in Mozambique, undergo a reformulation? What about Trophy in Nigeria? Or Sheaf Stout in Australia, will they still use Nelson Sauvin hops in Fat Yak Ale?

Breweries from Romania, Slovakia, Peru, Columbia, Honduras, El Salvador, Italy, India, Hungary, Canary Islands, Uganda, Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic, are involved. If you do not believe that there will many people who will lose their jobs, then obviously you are puffing on a Neoliberal pipe dream.