American Culture

Anheuser-Busch sells out to InBev

I enjoy a good beer, which is why I don’t enjoy Budweiser. I know from experience during my college days that the best use for Bud products is to get totally hammered inexpensively – after you’ve drank enough decent beer that you can’t taste the difference any more. And I say that as someone who grew up on (and still occasionally enjoys) Coors Extra Gold, a product from another brewery that is roundly and deservedly panned by my fellow beer snobs. So I understand anyone who grew up in St. Louis drinking Bud and who still does so from time to time.

For better or worse, Bud is viewed as “America’s beer,” and as such I was amazed when Belgian brewing giant InBev originally bid $46 billion for the company. I’m equally surprised now that the Anheuser-Busch board just accepted a $52 billion bid. The only rationale that I can come up with for InBev’s interest in Anheuser-Busch is that they want access to one of the best brands in the world rather than the actual beer (InBev makes a number of much, much, much better brews than Busch, Bud, et al. Stella Artois, Leffe, and Hoegaarden alone beat the hell out of anything that Anheuser-Bush makes, and those aren’t even the best tasting brands in InBev’s portfolio). The Anheuser-Busch unanimously board rejected the initial bid, but apparently an additional $6 billion ($52 billion total, or $70/share) was enough to remind the board of directors that there’s nothing more American, more patriotic than making money by selling out.

InBev has wasted no time in adding the Anheuser-Busch brands to their own list of brands. Here’s hoping that InBev can make the Anheuser-Busch beers taste better.


9 replies »

  1. A small edit, Brian:

    I have taste buds, which is why I don’t enjoy Budweiser.

    I agree that InBev is only interested in the brand, marketshare, and brewing/distribution capabilities. The recipes (take Clydesdale piss and ferment) wouldn’t interest anyone.

    I’m waiting to see how long it takes InBev to spin off the non-beer producing aspects of the Anheuser Busch company, namely the Busch Gardens and Sea World Parks. I’d hate to see them go into the hands of Six Flags, but I doubt any zoological group has the money to make a bid on the Sea Worlds. I doubt InBev would just spin them off, but we can hope.

    Lara Amber

  2. I’m a recovering alcoholic (20 years), but Budweiser started me down the road to perdition. But, quickly deducing that the next day it left my brain feeling like somebody rubbed newsprint on it, I quickly moved on. Farewell, Bud. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

  3. I personally don’t care for the taste of most Bud products, however this is truly a sad day in American history. Bud led the way after prohibition and has been a great American Icon for years. What an absolute shame that this company like too many others is selling out American history to foreign companies. I guess this means the US will be getting even less of the illegal emigrant money now. SO long Buwyzer, you will be missed if for nothing else helping end prohibition.

  4. I live in a community that benefits tremendously from the tourist dollars brought in for the Busch Gardens theme park. InBev isn’t in the theme park/entertainment business, and we’re all very concerned about what’s going to happen. Busch Gardens is run really, really well, and the park is absolutely beautiful. I’m dreading it becoming some more carney-themed place, or worse, having it shut down.

    I still don’t get how hostile company takeovers are allowed. It just doesn’t seem right.

  5. I for one do not enjoy Bud, but for an American company to just simply piss that much history away well now that is pretty sad. Oh well life goes on and its MIller time

  6. For all the naysayers, I’d suggest you all get your rifles and stand guard around the Bud brew-houses. You’ll be waiting for a fleet of Belgian-registered helicopters coming to lift them bodily off the ground and drag them back to Belgium.

    Or explain to me how Bud, after a change of ownership in a listed company, is suddenly less American? The beer will still be made, advertised and distributed by Americans. So only ownership makes an American company?

    In which case, what on earth are you all bitching about when American-owned companies offshore their entire workforce? They’re still 100% American companies then, aren’t they?

  7. The stories of A-B’s philanthropy put me in mind of Nelson Rockefeller handing out nickles and dimes to little children on the streets. The coins were particularly welcome since his predatory business practices had put a lot of the kiddies’ daddies out of work.

    Anheuser-Busch never had a good product. What they had was a marketing and acquisition machine that undersold or bought out and destroyed countless local beers. As George Carlin would have said “Unfuck ’em. Fucking’s too good for ’em.”