What do Four Peaks, Camden Town, and Breckenridge brewing companies all have in common? Announcements of their buyouts from Anheuser-Busch InBev all came within a span of less than a week. They're just the latest breweries to be added to AB-InBev's ever-increasing craft beer portfolio.
With AB-InBev on a microbrewery shopping spree, some American craft beer evangelists believe the buyouts have gotten a little out of hand. One such person is John Falco, the owner of Miami's soon-to-be-open Lincoln's Beard Brewing Company, who finally had something to say about it and wrote an open letter to AB-InBev with an offer to buy the corporation — for $26,000.
Who knows, they might accept. After all, they make Bud Light.
What simply began as Anheuser-Busch is now AB-InBev, following a 2011 buyout from Belgian-Brazilian company InBev. Now the conglomerate wants to buy SABMiller — one of Budweiser's biggest competitors — for $106 billion and control most of the world's beer market.
With all of this money being thrown around, it seems no one remembers the humble origins of craft beer and why Falco thinks independent breweries exist in the first place. In a letter published to the Lincoln's Beard Brewing blog December 28, Falco writes:
"You see, we aren't billionaires from a faceless, Belgium-headquartered behemoth...we are just regular ol' Americans. We scrutinize every penny we spend and obsess over every decision we make. We live where we brew. We serve what we brew...with our own hands. We see the consequences of our actions, good or bad. We don't just serve the community, we are the community. But don't let us burden you with that."
Lincoln's Beard Brewing isn't open yet, although Falco tells New Times that he wants to have it open by the spring of 2016. He and his business partners already have a 4,300-square-foot building picked out in the Bird Road Arts District. It'll be a traditional neighborhood brewpub where Falco plans to offer eight to ten house-made beers. There will be more details to come.
As someone who's intimately involved in opening a brewery, Falco appreciates the kind of dedication and persistence that comes with the process. He doesn't blame small brewers for selling out, but he believes consumers prefer to know that the beer they drink comes from a brewery owned by people in their neighborhood,
"If you want to remain completely pure, then stay a homebrewer," Falco tells New Times. "When you completely lose touch with the product and it's a commodity, the art is gone. The art is absolutely gone."
The idea of offering AB-InBev the absurdly low price of $26,000 came about when Falco and a some buddies were sitting around having a few brews. A light bulb went off in his head: Why not be a thorn in their side?
The amount is not arbitrary; it's a reference to John Wilkes Booth's age — 26 — the day he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
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Falco won't be able to pay it immediately, which is why he's asking if they'll accept payment after 120 days. That's a reference to the length of time the company waits until it pays its suppliers, which has had a "devastating" effect on many of them, Falco says.
"We are fortunately not afflicted with having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars battling antitrust investigations, incentivizing distributors to sideline our competitors, aggressively marketing a sub-par product, or gobbling up the aforementioned, formerly craft, breweries," Falco writes. "We trust you will accept this offer with the same gravity that you afford your ingredient selection. We eagerly await your response."
Read the letter in full here: