A merger between the makers of Sam Adams and Dogfish Head brews up controversy

Boston Beer Co. bought Dogfish Head for $300m, bringing 2 of the country’s biggest craft brewers under one roof.

May 13, 2019

Boston Beer Co. — the brewery that makes Sam Adams — bought rival brewing company Dogfish Head in a crafty $300m deal.

The merger will combine the 2nd-largest (Boston Beer) and 13th-largest (Dogfish) craft beer companies in the same corporate keg, raising some questions about what it means for a brewery to be considered “craft.”

What counts as ‘craft,’ anyway?

According to the not-for-profit Brewer’s Association, a brewery must make less than 6m barrels of beer per year and be less than 25% controlled by a Big Beverage company to count as “craft.”

Dogfish Head produces 262k barrels per year, but Boston Beer, which pumps out 4.3m barrels per year, barely makes the cut.

Since Boston Beer is one of the 10 largest breweries in the country and it’s publicly traded, beer snobs argue it’s not “true” craft  — and now they say Dogfish sold out.

Go home angry Facebook mob… you’re drunk

The fizzy flood of Facebook furor ranged from “Drink craft, not corporate!” to “oh f*ck me this is awful.”

But both businesses will still be independently operated and founder-run (albeit with wider distribution for Dogfish). 

Plus, the acquisition will allow Dogfish Head to grow without selling to a multinational beverage giant like Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV that could lay off employees and change production practices.

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