During our lives we remember events which standout and affect us either directly or indirectly. Events like the Kennedy assignation, the first moon landing or 9/11 which we will never forget, and in fact, were so dramatic they seem like they took place just yesterday. Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when these momentous events occurred.
Other events which directly affect our lives include high school/college graduation, marriage/divorce, family death, or birth of a child, which also leave an impact on our lives.
The same applies professionally as well, especially to those of us in the beer industry. 1969 was an unforgettable year in that Philip Morris bought Miller Brewing, ushering in modern-day marketing and leading to light beers, which consequentially changing the industry forever. Another defining year which altered our industry occurred in 1983 when Corona went from their short brown stubby bottle to the tall clear longneck of today. And the argument can be made that in 1984 when Jim Koch started Boston Beer Company, this had more to do with the creation of crafts than any other single event. Then, as we all know, in 2008, InBev bought AB and the industry’s dynamics were changed forever.
This brings us to 2016. Will 2016 be another of those defining years in the beer industry? In many ways, it not only has to, but it will bring about changes we cannot anticipate going forward. Simply put, 2016 might just be the defining year of the first 50 years in this century. This may be hard to believe considering that 2008 had been that defining year of the decade, but 2016 has the look of even more dramatic changes to come.
At some point, probably sooner rather than later, the financial impact of ABI’s acquisition of SABMiller will start appearing in the US. Just how, is yet to be determined, but rest assured it is coming. What you can most likely count on is ABI doing what they have been doing, just more so. This includes buying more craft breweries, regardless of their restrictions as agreed upon by ABI and the government.
But another impact of 2016 is the creation of MolsonCoors with the SABMiller buyout. Some pundits are saying now that MolsonCoors is free of SABMiller, Heineken will come suiting MolsonCoors. On paper this acquisition makes a great deal of sense, and given the status of ABI now, there should not be any anti-trust issues or push-backs on the government level.
A merger or partnership with MolsonCoors and Heineken will definitely have a long-term impact on the beer industry, not only in the US, but also all over the world given Heineken’s global presence. Finally, it is difficult to forecast just how the numerous buyouts, JV’s, and partnerships with crafts will play out in the industry, but one aspect of the changes is that many more crafts will follow along with these multiple options. Regardless, crafts will get much bigger and impact the industry even more. Time will tell.
2016, just like 2008, 1984,1983, and 1969 will be remembered as a defining year for the industry and will affect all of us in many ways, hopefully in a positive way!
Damage done in one year can sometimes take ten or twenty years to repair….