Does AB InBev want all “beer” to taste alike?

Haake-Beck bottles

Why does this taste like Antarctica beer?

It takes some real work to make me feel sorry for Budweiser, but it seems that I am a little nostalgic for the days when it was run by the Busch family.

I am not against large corporations, per se, but an article in articleBusinessWeek.com, “The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer,” paints a picture of a corporate leader, Carlos Brito, the CEO of AB InBev, as someone who knows nothing about beer and everything about corporate takeovers. AbInBev has seemingly taken over every name brand beer on the planet: Beck’s, Stella Artois, Budweiser, Corona, Spaten, and many others.

Here’s an excerpt:

“[Ab InBev is] hurting these brands,” says Gerard Rijk, a beverage analyst at ING (ING).

Rijk gives Beck’s as an example:

“The authenticity of Beck’s is that it is a German brand with German water, with German malt, with German hops. This isn’t about brand building. It’s about costs. Full stop. Heineken (HEIA) would never do such a thing.”

I am reminded of the takeover of Pacific Lumber by Texas financier Charles Hurwitz. And with good reason…

[Brito’s] been running AB InBev’s business in the U.S. like a private equity investor. He has increased revenue and profit, but he has done so almost entirely by raising prices and cutting the cost of making the product….

What will Mr. Brito do when he runs out of companies to acquire and actually has to brew decent beer? Something he apparently doesn’t have a clue how to do.

The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer” is well worth a look.

Hop inventories are good in the United States

The inventory of hops held by growers dealers, and brewers on March 1, 2012, totaled 117 million pounds which is 3 percent less than the USDA‘s revised March 1. 2011 estimate. Still, this is the second highest level for March 1 hop stocks ever recorded. The previous record of 121 million pounds was set on March 1, 2011.

March 2012 hop stocks are down 3% from 2011’s numbers but still very high compared to years previous.

The United States Department of Agriculture‘s National Agricultural Statistics Service reports on hops can be found at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Washington/Publications/Hops/index.asp