The Inquirer runs a story this morning on Budweiser encrouching on local brewers:
Philadelphians are buying more craft beer than ever, but the region's brewmasters are bracing for the biggest name in beer to move into town.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of Budweiser products and the world's largest brewer, trademarked the name "215" this spring, along with the area codes for 14 other U.S. cities.
The filing is the first public step toward creating a new beer by the same name.
"We're being attacked," said Bill Covaleski, brewmaster and president of Victory Brewing Co., a craft brewery in Downingtown. "Philadelphia's craft brewers are going to be forced to defend our status, but I'd rather be in this position than be the attacker."
Anheuser-Busch declined comment on the filing, but Covaleski said he expected to see a regionalized "215" beer on tap in six to eight months.
Local brewers aren't stunned by the beer giant's latest move.
Anheuser-Busch acquired Goose Island Beer Co. in March, along with its "312 Urban Wheat" beer, named after its hometown Chicago area code.
So Bud buys Goose Island and now is going to push that 312 beer into each market but with regional area code names? I don't think Victory and the boys should be that worried. While Goose Island has always been a favorite of mine, I don't think people will be moving from Hop Devil or Prima Pils to this new Bud product in droves.
Craft beer customers are for the most part a discerning crowd who are better educated about what they are drinking. Thats why they flock to Yards or Flyish Fish and avoid the thin, flavorless mega-beers.
However, if they are producing a different beer in each market, and making an effort to create a brew that is more in line with what craft beer fans enjoy, then that could be a small dent in local brewers sales. It is hard to believe that someone who works on such a massive scale as Budweiser would go small scale like that, but it would be a worry for a local competitor.