This week Golden Road Brewing delivered the news to craft beer fans that they have, in fact, sold out to AB-InBev, the conglomerate responsible for Budweiser. This news comes just days after employees filed a lawsuit against owner Tony Yanow for unpaid wages, and one day before the Great American Beer Festival, the largest craft beer event in the world.
For the past four years Golden Road Brewing was the craft beer champion of Los Angeles. This year they announced an expansion to Anaheim and Grand Central Market, to increase production that will expand their distribution to new horizons. Just now, we’re finding out that the most important element for the 4 partners, is that they are “with the winning horse,” according to Meg Gill, president of Golden Road Brewing.
The range in which people took the news varies from elated to angry and betrayed. But much of the discussions online have turned sour. Many people in and around the craft beer industry, including staff at BeerQwest, feel duped on so many levels. In 2012 Gill signed the Declaration of Beer Independence. At the time, Angelenos were excited to have their own local brewery with a sense of responsibility for the craft beer fans.
I declare to practice the concept of “Informed Consumption,” seeking and deserving to know if my beer comes from a small and independent brewery or if it is owned by a large brewing company. I want to know why so many of my local beer brands are not available in many of my favorite restaurants, bars and beer stores, and I encourage beer sellers to offer a wide selection of beer styles and beer brands that includes beer from my local and regional breweries…Declaration of Beer Independence by CraftBeer.com
On his Facebook page, Yanow stated that he is interested in what Anheuser Busch has done for Goose Island, Elysian, and 10 Barrel. Many craft beer fans have been turned off by Anheuser Busch for their bombardment of claims that their macro beer is somehow craft. Not to mention their Super Bowl commercial dismissing craft beer as simply a Pumpkin Peach Ale, and that beer isn’t meant to be fussed over.
In a nutshell, it appears that Gill spearheaded this deal to sell out. Harry Schuhmacher, of Beer Business Daily, encouraged Gill to talk with Anheuser Busch, and if the deal happened, he offered to buy her a taco.
I hope that was the best taco in the world.
UPDATE Sept 26 8:30am The LA Times is reporting that Tony Yanow is departing from Golden Road Brewing, while Meg Gill and Paul Burgis will head up operations. Furthermore, it has been confirmed that Meg Gill approached Anheuser Busch about the purchase. So while she claims "there was no for sale sign in the window," she was trying to sell. In all honesty, we have the utmost respect for brewers Jesse Houck and Victor Novak, and believe it is only a matter of time before they depart as well, regardless of their claims to the contrary.