Since I was born and raised in Milwaukee, I know a little bit about the comings and goings of beer. I lived through the decline of Schlitz, the disappearance of Blatz, and the transfer of beer making by Pabst to Miller, which was purchased by a South African brewery, a move I still don’t fully understand. So now that Anheuser-Busch, the Bud people, have caved into the Belgian brewer InBev, I am not surprised, just disappointed. At $ 70 a share you can’t blame the board for cashing in on a great deal; that is unless you are a patriotic American.
The global economy we live in combined with the weakened dollar has made name brand companies in this country vulnerable to foreign buyouts. Beer companies seem to be high on the shopping list of foreign buyers since Coors is now Canadian and Bud, which presents itself as the ” Great American Lager” of course is no longer the ” Great American Lager”, just another subsidiary of a foreign giant on the make.
That leaves Sam Adams of the Boston Beer Company as the top American based brewer. In a way Sam Adams, who in the early days of the pre-revolution was called ” Sam the malter” because of his connection to his father’s brewery, is a perfect namesake for beer patriotism in this new era of selling off U.S. corporate assets. In a real sense Sam Adams beer, which barely has 1% of the market, is like the small band of colonists who stood up to the better armed and better trained British and proclaimed independence.
In the global economy there is little room for patriotism or exclusive national control of business entities. It’s all about the money and shareholder happiness. But it is bothersome to see corporate brands or national treasures like the Empire State Building ( recently purchased in part by those sheiks from Abu Dhabi) gobbled up. What’s next Microsoft sold to the Japanese or Ford to the French?
Protectionist trade policies and business isolationism are not going to happen in this new era, but there has to be a sense of national identity in the corporate world in this country, a line in the sand where someone, probably the government, says that enough is enough and starts a campaign with the theme that Made In America means something. I am sure Sam Adams, Patriot and Brewer, would agree.