The Beer Paradox

At Mother Jones, Tom Philpott alerts us to the “beer paradox”:

Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller produce 80 percent of the beer consumed here. That’s four of every five brews. And almost all of them suck! Yet the US beer industry is paradoxical. Even as these giants have lurched their way to market domination, we’ve seen an explosion of excellent local and regional brewers. And the United States, home of such swill as Bud Light and Coors Extra Gold, has emerged as the global standard-bearer for beer innovation and, yes, quality.

For proof of the former, he provides this visualization:

But to demonstrate the strength of the small but growing microbrew market, check this out:

According to Philpott:

What all of this is telling me is that corporations control plenty, but they don’t control everything. Their dominance of US beer is a mile wide but paper thin. Grassroots energy and desire rescued beer from true corporate domination starting in 1980. The same can happen in other areas of the food system.

At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis has a bit about the role of President Carter in deregulating micro-brews in the 70s (which as Philpott explains accounts for the proliferation of small brewers after that time). However please do not be confused by Loomis’ cover art. Rob Farley clarifies:


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