Karbach and Texas Craft Beer
As many have heard, Karbach, a Houston-based craft brewery, has been purchased by Anheuser-BuschInBev. As one of the fastest growing breweries in the nation, it makes perfect sense. But it also leaves questions for Texas craft beer drinkers.
Anheuser-Busch has been on a tear recently purchasing breweries across the country. All the major beer states had seen a brewery purchased. I think many thought Texas would be immune for a significantly longer period of time. Given the awful laws of the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission), craft beer had been stunted in Texas. But all of that had begun to change. The effort and struggle of local breweries really did seem to make them more family than competitors. But Anheuser-Busch finally got their Texas mark.
I would be lying if I said I was shocked that Karbach soldout. From the beginning, their beer and marketing seemed hellbent on a quick explosion and then sell. Everytime rumors flew around about a potential brewery being bought Karbach was the top three selections in my mind. I would also be lying if I said I didn't enjoy their beer. I did enjoy their Love Street, Weisse Versa, and Mother in Lager. Their Three Legged Lab and Hop Delusion were good but maybe not worth the price. Their BBH and F.U.N series were occasionally out of this world.
But therein lies the problem. Karbach produced a lot of forgettable stuff in route to a pretty predictable expansion. With the boom of interest and success in Texas brewing, Karbach performed admirably. But something about the entire process always screamed that they would be the first to sellout. No one should be excited today though.
The push from Anheuser-Busch (yet again) into local markets is a dangerous first step for Texas craft beer. Between purchases of breweries and distribution companies, they have caught the eye of the US Department of Justice. This is a known problem and it is finally hitting our market. Even earlier this year Austin's own Independence Brewing Company sold stakes to Lagunitas. These actions increase production for the local breweries at ungodly rates. Price wars will begin. Distribution issues will eventually occur with more frequency. The Texas craft market will need its drinkers to make some serious decisions.
First, we have to support local beer. It is wonderful to taste the fruits of other state's labor. I love beer from all across the country, but its time to settle into a groove of supporting local brews. There are tried and true breweries. There are up and coming breweries. Texas beer drinkers need to ensure that local establishments are getting supported. Anheuser-Busch is going to flood the shelves with their beer. If you want local choices, you need to drink local beer.
Second, we need to let some local beers die. In the boom of success, it seems there is no end to the number of breweries opening anew every single month. Austin, in particular, has seen some wonderful explosions in breweries and brewpubs. But some of this success is falling on breweries that simply aren't going anywhere. There is no way every craft drinker can support ever craft brewery. So don't feel bad acknowledging you dislike something and letting go of the label.
As for me, I know the breweries that have stayed true to local and independent brewing. And as their beer stays excellent, my money will go there. I haven't consumed my last Karbach. But I certainly have purchased my last. I can't remember what it was. And today, that doesn't bother me in the least.