Goose, A-B Deal Near?

Chicago newspaper reports brewing giant to acquire large stake in Goose Island

The Chicago Tribune reports that the long-rumored deal between Goose Island Beer Co. and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch may close within the next month.

The deal would have A-B purchasing up to 35% of the Chicago brewery and taking over distribution of the Chicago beer.

Neither Goose Island president and founder John Hall nor his son Greg could be reached for comment. An Anheuser-Busch spokesman declined to comment on the deal.

The partnership would benefit Goose Island on the distribution side, where it has struggled since ending a sales and marketing agreement with United States Beverage in 2004.

Industry resources report that beyond the obvious benefits of investing in a growing brand, A-B wants to strike deals with breweries such as Goose Island because its distributors want more popular products to sell. Domestic beer sales fell 1.6% in 2005, compared to 9% growth by craft beers – and 24% by Goose Island.

A-B recently added imports such as Grolsch and Tiger to its portfolio and there are rumors that the company will soon buy the iconic Rolling Rock brand from InBev.

Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, told the Tribune he didn’t expect Busch’s purchase would hurt Goose Island sales.

“There probably will be some hard-core enthusiasts who become aware of that and make other selections,” he said, but most won’t even be aware of the deal.

Gatza speculated that the deal may be among the first of several that A-B announces this year.

Busch tried to buy a stake in Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Co. last year. “They are trying to do these deals because they need to get those products to their wholesalers,” said John McDonald, president of Boulevard Brewing Co.

“If you come out with a product they are trying to sell themselves, they just wouldn’t sell it,” he said. That’s because “even it they only own 35% of your company they have total control of you.”


  1. theburden says

    Greg Hall responded to this article and a thread on Beeradvocate discussing the transaction.

    do you guys believe everything you read?

    clearly, some do. well then, believe this:
    Many of the statements in the Tribune article are inaccurate. I don’t know who there source is, but they did not contact the brewery.

    Goose Island is and will continue to be an independently operated brewery. I plan on being here a long time, brewing a wider variety of great beers every year. (Look for Bourbon Aged Imperial Brown Goose in 750’s later this year, maybe another Bret beer too)

    I appreciate all the support we have from the beer community in the face of all the rumors. We will not let you down.

    as for “lots of extra capacity”, we’ve been growing over 20% the last 2 years eating all the extra cap up.

    as for “the Halls cashing out”, i have yet to receive my check, but i did buy a new bicycle.

    Greg Hall
    Goose Island

  2. admin says

    Thanks ‘theburden’ for this post.

    ProBrewer is careful to mention sources when reporting stories if we can not verify the facts ourselves. In this case, as mentioned in the ProBrewer News story, the source was the Chicago Tribune.

    I have known Greg and John Hall for many years and wish them the very best of success, whatever direction they choose.


  3. CallerFromLA says

    According to Associated Press on June 7, 2006:
    – Goose Island beers will be distributed by Widmer’s distribution arm
    – Widmer could possibly purchase a portion of Goose Island
    – Goose Island now gets the same network at Widmer and A-B
    – Widmer has used the A-B distribution network for 10 years, while remaining independent (A-B owns a minority stake in Widmer)