Just when you thought it was over, the shuffling begins anew. This time biggest of the craft beer guys (since the Brewers Association keeps raising the cap), Samuel Adams is merging with Dogfish Head.
You can read about the dollar amounts and the shares owned by whom on other sites and you can head to Twitter for the semi-comedic hot takes but I want to focus on questions I have for the combined brewing group in the future.
First, the aforementioned cap raising will need to be raised once again, maybe not this year but even with the smaller amount that Dogfish produces they will more than likely be pushing up to the line sooner rather than later. If the Brewers Association was loathe to kick Boston Beer out of the club, they sure as heck ain’t gonna kick out Boston Beer and beloved icon Sam Calagione in one fell swoop. Each time Boston Beer is snuck in it seems to raise more consternation amongst the members about what and who the Brewers Association stands for, expect it to be a thorny issue again. It probably won’t lead to a rival band of brewers in their own group but you might see an internal split with larger members on one side and smaller in their own group.
The next agenda item is what the mixing of the companies will be. Operated separately just under the same umbrella? Sharing some resources but brewing kept separate? Boston Beer is tilted to the non-beer side just a skosh in recent years with ciders and seltzers and hard this and hard that. How does that affect the brewing philosophy in Rehoboth Beach? The slightest deviations are going to be analyzed by beer fandom.
How does this affect the future of Jim Koch and the Calagiones and how will that affect the street cred of both? More interestingly, what happens when both retire off to a remote island, what do the two brands stand for then? It is not bad to have a CEO from another beverage company in charge but who is the totem for fans to latch onto when the names on the back of jersey change?
I am sure that this merger will be a topic of conversation and re-evaluation for years to come.