If you’re into craft beer, the news that broke on May 9th regarding the 300 million dollar merger between Sam Adams and Dogfish must have come as a shock. Most craft beer consumers are now left wondering, what happens now? Nothing to fear beer enthusiasts, you will see minimal impact. Typically what happens when mergers or buyouts occur, the change is that their beer becomes more readily available for the consumer. Personally, I believe that there will eventually be a collaboration between both breweries, but original beer styles and recipes will stay the same. This is a power grab between the two breweries and a chance to expand on their respective markets. Sam Adams was the number two craft beer producer in the country with Dogfish at 13 and Yuengling being number one (according to the 2018 production statistics from the Brewers Association). This merger has sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Once completed, it’s expected that the two combined will sit on the iron throne.
A little about myself, I manage a small craft brewery in Ephrata, PA. Before coming to manage here, I was the General Manager of a sports bar outside of Reading, PA. Why the hell does this matter you may ask, I’ve seen both sides of when it comes to selling beer. I’ve single-handedly sold more $1.75 pounders of Keystone Light than anyone else on the planet, seriously it sucks. That was one of many reasons that I sprinted away from that side of the industry. When I landed in Ephrata, I truly found my home and felt accepted with open arms. We have an amazing small town community that loves good beer. When mergers like Dogfish and Sam Adams happen, it destroys what we are trying to do as a member of the craft beer community.
A movement that matters is the Independent Craft Beer movement, one started by the Brewers Association a little over a year ago. The whole purpose of this movement is to allow the consumer to understand which breweries are stand alone, or if they are owned by “Big Beer” (Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors etc). Shortly after this movement started, Dogfish came to the front of the pack as the industry's unwavering champion, our beacon of independence and flaunted it by putting the Independent Seal on their six packs. They even went as far as publishing a statement about what their independence meant to them -> https://www.dogfish.com/blog/
After this merger, they will still be considered “Independent” and that to me is more of a flagrant foul than Embiid’s foul on Gasol in game 6. How in the hell can you still be independent after receiving 300 MILLION DOLLARS from Sam Adams?
Let it be known, without the likes of Sam Calagione (owner of Dogfish) and Jim Koch (founder of Sam Adams), there would be no craft beer movement. They were the start of it all and we as an industry owe a lot to them. But Sam C. was our “Daenerys of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons”. It now appears that he is becoming the “Mad King” of the craft beer world, and we are all kind of lost without our precious Khaleesi.
Eric Sears / Brewery Manager, Black Forest Brewery
Head Beer Contributor, Philly Drinkers LLC
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