Beer geeks are already wringing their hands that the sale of Goose Island Beer Co. to Anheuser-Busch -- better known as Budweiser -- will compromise one of craft beer's leading lights.
But Goose founder and Chief Executive Officer John Hall said the brewery's commitment to interesting and creative beer, like the recently released Pepe Nero (a black saison) or the upcoming Big John (a stout aged with cocoa nibs) will not change.
"They didn’t buy us to change what we’re doing," says Hall, who will remain as CEO.
If AB was going to water down the product, "I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have worked 23 years to build what I have to (throw) it away in five minutes."
Hall also issued a letter to Goose fans this morning on the company's web site, touting the ability for "growth and innovation" as a result of the deal.
The big shake up on the local beer scene was announced this morning. Anheuser-Busch will pay a total of $38.8 million for the brewery on Fulton Street that sends its beers across the globe. Though jarring in an industry that prides itself on independence and creativity, the move isn't completely unexpected. Anheuser-Busch has had a hand in the company since 2006, when the Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brewers Alliance -- of which AB has a minority interest -- took a minority ownership of Goose. AB has played a role in Goose's distribution ever since.
Brewmaster Greg Hall, whose father started the brewery in 1988, will be stepping down and be replaced by (the appropriately named) head brewer Brett Porter. Porter was previous head brewer of well-respected Oregon brewery Deschutes Brewery before coming to Goose last year.
I'm told Greg will announce his future plans in the next few weeks.
Goose's two brew pubs in the city, on Clark Street and Clybourn Avenue, are not involved in the deal and will continue to be owned by John Hall and a group of partners.
The Stew and the Tribune's Breaking Business will be updating the story throughout the day.