All over this planet a monster called Anheuser-Busch InBev leaves it footprints.  But this monster is rather like the creature which was created when all the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers combined their powers to create a 300ft high robot, it is made up of many small companies from all over the globe which have been taken over throughout the years.

Let me give you the brief history of this giant brewer (concentrate, there will be a test at the end).  InterBrew was created when two Belgian brewers merged in 1987, Artois being one of them.  This company then took over a number of other Belgian brewing operations before buying up Labatts in Canada and Bass / Whitbread in the UK.  They then popped over the border and brought out Becks, before expanding into China at the turn of the century.

Ambev was formed when two of the biggest South American Breweries (Bramha being one) merged, they then purchased controlling interests in a number of their continental competitors.  In 2004 these two companies merged and formed AB InBev.   This newly formed company then expanded further into China and increased their footprint in Canada and South America.

Anheuser Busch is most famous for its core product, Budweiser and its offshoots as well as operating a small number of niche brewing operations.  In 2008, InBev paid $52 billion in cash to purchase Anheuser Busch, creating a giant now worth $171 billion (£101bn), sales of $43 billion (£25bn) and employing 154,000 employees across the globe.  After this was finalised acquisitions continued, the most significant when they took over Grupo Modelo, the biggest brewing operation in Mexico, one of the top 10 beer consumers in the world.

The brewery has 17 brands which make over $1 billion (£680bn) on their own, out of a total of over 200.  They is a massive product portfolio in any sense of the word.  There is now increasing speculation that this company want to take over MillerCoors, this company itself being the result of a joint operation between SABMiller and Molson Coors, although the two constituent parts remain technically separate.

SABMiller itself is the the result of a number of takeovers and mergers involving companies including South African Breweries, Miller, Fosters Group, Grolsch as well as a lot of the well known Eastern European, Italian and Polish brands imported to the UK.   Molson Coors is the result of the merger between the two well known lager brands.  There is a good chance that Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev to his friends) will make a bid to take over SABMiller and the two companies which make up the partnership in the near future creating a company with nearly 400 brands, a significant market share of the world beer trade (50% of profits made in the beer market in fact) and a total worth of $290 billion (£171bn)

Let’s be frank, this will create a structure more complicated than the story arc for entire run of Game of Thrones so far.  However the result will not be half as interesting to consume.   If Game of Thrones is the equivalent of craft beer, then most of the beers these two companies produce are the equivalent of Coronation Street or Emmerdale, entirely interchangeable, not unlike most actors who appear in these soaps.  Occasionally you get a good interesting beer, especially  some of the Czech brands, but most are inoffensive and simply quench a thirst.

There is no doubt that this would not be a good move for the world beer market.  The fact that we have two companies this big already segmenting the beer market is not healthy.  Currently ABInBev and MillerCoors both operate in major economic areas such as Europe and America, but MillerCoors is dominant in Africa whilst ABInBev is very strong in South America regarding market share.  Bringing these two together will mean global domination of the beer market.

We all know that countries such as the USA, UK, Belguim, Germany and Canada all have a thriving independent brewing sector, craft or not, but the combined sales of all these companies won’t even touch the revenues or profits of just one part of this mega-company.   Just as in most bars you can only buy soft drinks from either PepsiCo or Coca-Cola Enterprises due to the supply deals being with a single distributor; outside of regulated markets such as Europe and North America, what is stopping this mega brewery offering a bar highly favourable supply costs for beer from a stable of nearly 400 brands, but only on agreement they stock nothing else.  This locks out the local independents.

If we have to have giant brewers, I’d rather we have 2 to fight over the market, rather than one dominate it.