The wife and I will be on a trip to Seattle in the near future, and as always, when traveling, I enjoy sampling the local beers. We’re staying right downtown, so I’m open to any suggestions any readers of this blog might have for places that are must-hit sites. One place I’m sure I will hit is Elysian Brewing, which has multiple locations around the Seattle area.
Elysian Brewing is no stranger to controversy however. In 2015 it was announced that Anheuser-Busch was buying the brewery, making it part of one of the largest brewing empires in the world. Within moments of the announcement the craft brewing establishment went into fits about how terrible it was that a large scale brewery like AB was buying a craft brewery. Many people have said they will never drink their beers because they’re a part of the mega-AB empire.
I find the whole issue rather silly, since this isn’t the first time that a large mega brewery has bought smaller craft breweries. Many years ago Wisconsin brewery Leinenkugel’s was purchased by SABMiller, another international brewing empire. However, the sky never fell, and Leinenkugel still puts out decent beers, as well as inventive brews from their more experimental satellite brewery in Milwaukee.
Another recent acquisition was Goose Island, in Chicago, by the aforementioned Anheuser-Busch. Again the internet went into fits, but all that I’ve personally seen is that Goose Island now has a much wide distribution network, and their beer hasn’t really changed. It’s even sold at our local soccer stadium as one of the main staple craft beers for people to buy.
The religious wars around retaining craft brewing purity can get out of hand. But yet, there is something to continuing to encourage the development of small brewing enterprises that have the agility to try new things, and experiment. Many of the local taprooms here in the Twin Cities are doing amazing beer, but their calling is really in their small local presence. To not only bring a cool local flavor the beer scene, but also to be a place where people can gather together for fun and socializing.
At the end of it all, the point is to get good tasting beer in the hands of as many people as possible. Even the large mega-brewing companies see a market in this, and simply want a piece of the action. It makes a lot more sense to buy companies that are already successful in this area, than to try and reinvent what many small craft breweries already do so well. As long as these large companies let the craft breweries continue to produce beer that is better than the average swill, the sky isn’t falling. If any of these companies starting putting out complete garbage beer, then they would quickly find their market drying up, because there’s always another craft brewery to drink from.
I’m looking forward to checkout Elysian and seeing what they offer. I’m OK with the fact that they’re owned by a big corporation, as long as they give me some tasty beer that reflects some thought and dedication to the craft. I’m also going to make sure to hit some smaller breweries that will give me some tastes I’ve probably never had before, in quaint surroundings. In the world of beer, there’s a bit tent, and plenty of beer to be drank