Anheuser-Busch Purchases Chicago-Based Goose Island Beer Co. for $38.8 Million

Goose Island has long been one of Chicago’s pride and joys in terms of the best microbrewed beer. But on Monday, Anheuser-Busch announced that it purchased the Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Co. for $38.8 million in order to tap into the craft beer market.

Goose Island opened its doors at its first brewpub in 1988 in order to bring craft beer into a market that was already dominated by mass-produced beer. Part of the $38.8 million came from stakeholder Fulton Street Brewery selling its 58 percent worth for $22.5 million. The other $16.3 million came from the 42 percent owned by Craft Brewers Alliance Inc., a Portland, Oregon-based brewer.

In addition to the news of Anheuser-Busch’s acquisition of the company, Goose Island also announced Monday, March 28 that Brewmaster Greg Hall would be stepping down and would be replaced by Brett Porter. Hall has spent years at Goose Island and has been one of the creative minds behind Goose Island’s many unique craft beers. Some of Goose Island’s most popular beers include 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Honker’s Ale, India Pale Ale, and their seasonal Christmas Ale.

To many Chicagoans, Goose Island has been a symbol of great, local beer that rises above in a market where cheap, mass-produced beer seems to dominate. But Anheuser-Busch’s acquisition has some Chicagoans worried that their favorite local beer may be headed for the worst.

“I love Goose Island, especially 312,” Ken Jenks, a Chicago native, said. “It’s just good beer and what you drink at their brewpub in the city is what you get in every bottle no matter where you buy it. It’s scary to think that they’re being bought by Anheuser-Busch. It makes me worried that they won’t made good decisions and will instead bring their mass-production ideas to Goose Island.”

Other residents agree. Cindy Kendall, a North Side resident, said, “I was first introduced to Goose Island while I was in Milwaukee. When I moved to Chicago, my friends took me to the brewpub on Clark and it was amazing. Chicagoans take a lot of pride in their beer and I think Goose Island is at the center of that pride. Look at how many awards they’ve won. If Anheuser-Busch turns it into mass-produced beer, Goose Island is doomed. I wish it could stay micro-owned.”

Although the purchase has already gone through, the news made clear that the two brewpubs located at 3535 N. Clark and 1800 N. Clybourn were not part of the sale.

Rachel Krech provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.