The concept of “selling out” is far more figurative than literal. It’s like selling one’s soul — compromising ethos for income. It sounds dastardly, but for many it’s the American dream: Build a business, sell it for a lot of money, and retire with your newfound fortune. But there are some industries, notably craft brewing, where this pipeline isn’t always applauded.
At the end of the day, business is business, and in 2011, Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev. This kicked off a decade-long acquisition spree by the macro brewer, and a snarling debate over the ethics of individual firms “selling out” the craft brewing movement. Goose Island was initially mocked by other craft breweries, but it wasn’t long before a lot of them fell to the same fate.
Twelve years later, the disdain toward Goose Island’s acquisition is still palpable. Here to tell the story is industry icon John Laffler. When news of the sale broke — via Facebook nonetheless — Laffler was heading up Goose Island’s vaunted barrel-aging program. He later went on to co-found Chicago’s Off Color Brewing. It’s a cautionary tale about “growth for growth’s sake,” and it’s all right here on VinePair’s “Taplines.” Tune in for more.