Business as usual
by Heather Vandenengel
SAN DIEGO, CA — Anheuser-Busch InBev has bought another brewery, Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co., a 40k barrels per year brewery, with brewpubs in Bend and Boise, Idaho and one to come in Portland, Ore. I was at the Bend brewpub two weeks ago when I stopped in for a few pints after a hike at Tumalo Falls. Locals had already told me it was one of those spots in Bend–like Crows Feet Commons, a beer/bike/coffee shop or The Lot, a food cart pavilion–that felt distinctly like Bend, where you hang out for a few hours and make a handful of friends. I loved it. I befriended big dogs on the patio, warmed my hands around the outdoor fire pit, enjoyed a radler and a black ale, met a handful of people and got an offer to crash in a spare bedroom. It was magic.
It is unlikely that ABI’s purchase will change any of that. The owners of 10 Barrel have clearly worked very hard and risked a lot to make this brewery successful and they deserve the right to make it even more successful. ABI can offer a wealth of resources and a huge distribution network. Rationally, I understand that beer is a business (and if one more dude mansplains this to me, jesus christ), but I can’t help but feeling bummed. I share concerns about ABI buying small breweries to push other small, independent breweries off of shelves and taplines. But beyond that, I hate that an international conglomerate now owns a brewery that is at the heart of this town that has wrapped its identity around good beer and the outdoors and an independent spirit. The world won’t end with this purchase, the town won’t change, and the beers likely won’t either, but I still hate it.