Craft Beer and the Illusion of Choice

With the rise of popularity in craft beer in the United States, when you walk into your local watering hole, you’re likely to see a full array of tap handles and choices. The reality is that the majority of those tap handles are most likely pouring beer owned by just a few companies, and your choice is completely an illusion.

The majority of the world beer market is actually owned by just five companies. More than 400 brands of beer are owned by the largest – ABInBev– alone.

Here is a look at some of the key brands in the portfolios of the five largest breweries in the world:

Source: Visual Capitalist

Much of this is designed to compete with the rise of craft beer popularity in the United States. Rather than create their own new product lines, they have taken to simply buying up already successful craft breweries and raising their distribution and marketing.

The end result is a dizzying array of brands that makes it very difficult for the consumer to know what is truly independent craft beer.

It puts a lot of onus on the consumer to be knowledgeable – which is exactly what the large breweries want.

If you truly want to support local, be sure you know what you are ordering and whether it actually supports the local breweries in your community.

Look for a forthcoming series on the craft beer industry here at Parking The Bus.


We discussed the illusion of choice in craft beer and other industries further in our latest episode of the Pretend to Know Show:

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