UPDATED: Texas Craft Beer Turf War Erupts Between Anheuser-Busch and Shiner Bock’s Spoetzl Brewery

Ads by Karbach’s global distributors fire shots in Shiner, Texas

Updated Friday, November 8, 2pm:

On Friday, new photos were sent on behalf of both Spoetzl and Del Papa Distributing and David Graham, brand manager at Karbach Brewing Co., wrote the following in an email sent to the Chronicle:

Courtesy of Del Papa Distributing

“Karbach Brewing Co. has always been deeply invested in Houston and the greater Texas community—it’s a part of our brewery’s DNA to give back and support our home state, where we brew 100% of our beer. This year, we collaborated with the Houston Astros to develop Crawford Bock. This beer benefits the Astros Foundation, which supports the recognition of our nation’s military, childhood cancer awareness and efforts to reduce homelessness. Through Crawford Bock, we’ve helped raise nearly $100K for the foundation to date.

"When we got the call from Del Papa Distributing in Shiner, TX, asking us to help them support the Lion’s Club Shiner Music Fest, the partnership was an easy ‘yes’ from us. Shiner Music Fest not only has a rich history in the area—it’s also important to our community—and we’re honored to do our part.”

Original post, Friday, November 8, 8:33am:

Texas is no stranger to craft beer controversy – after all, we just recently became the 50th state to pass Beer To Go – and the situation brewing in Shiner, Texas is indicative of continuing distribution issues and the growing threat to small independent breweries.

Anheuser Busch, subsidiary of ABInbev, the publicly traded multinational owners of former Houstonians Karbach Brewing has erected three billboards in the tiny town of Shiner claiming there is a "new Bock in town." Anheuser-Busch is the largest “brewing company” in the United States and owns all of Budweiser, Bud Light (yep, even Lime-a-Ritas), Michelob, Natural Light, Rolling Rock, Busch, Shock Top, LandShark Lager, and many more. We could expand on their global distribution, but you get the drift.

Meanwhile, Spoetzl Brewery has been brewing all Shiner Bock products in the small south Texas town about 85 miles from Austin for 110 years.

Julie Boehm, Spoetzl Brewery spokesperson, said, "The letter reassured Shiner fans everywhere that AB has come after us before, but Shiner Bock is here to stay. The Spoetzl Brewery has been here for over 110 years and we are not going anywhere. The employees and our loyal followers appreciate that every drop of Shiner craft beer is made right here in Shiner, Texas.”

Spoetzl Brewery’s rebuttal – an open letter addressed to “our friends in Shiner” – is available online and published on page six of the Thursday, Nov. 7 issue of the Shiner Gazette. It reads as follows:

Signage on a stand at the Shiner Music Festival (Courtesy of Spoetzl Brewery)

“We have heard some chatter about uncommon sights around town last month—three billboards and a concert sponsorship touting: ‘There’s a new Bock in Shiner.’

"That’s not Shiner Bock my friends. They are talking about Karbach Brewing Co., which is owned and operated by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, the largest brewer in the United States and in the world.

"It is not the Shiner Bock that’s brewed here in Shiner at the K. Spoetzl Brewery. This brewery has been providing jobs and giving back to our community since 1909—that’s 110 years.

"It is not the 110% independent and family-owned Shiner Bock. Our beers proudly wear the Brewers Association’s “Certified Independent Craft” seal on our labels—something an A-B-owned beer will never be able to do.

"A-B is a public multinational company with its global headquarters in Belgium. A-B acquired Karbach Brewing Co. in 2016. This was part of A-B’s larger scheme to acquire craft breweries around the United States and use its huge plants to produce the former craft beers they now own.

"A-B does not want you to know that Karbach is produced at the formerly craft Karbach brewery and at its large, low-cost A-B plant in Houston. This is a huge company with deep pockets seeking to force its way into our town.

"It is not the first time they have tried to imitate our iconic Shiner Bock—A-B’s Ziegenbock and Michelob AmberBock have been around for years. Now, Karbach’s Crawford Bock joins A-B’s family of bocks: “There’s a new Bock in A-B.”

"But they can try again. It won’t be the first time some local Texans faced unbelievable odds.

"We’ve got pride on our side. We are proud of our beer, proud of our independence, proud of our heritage, proud of our authenticity, and proud to be in Shiner, Texas.

"To the drinkers who love Shiner, we say ‘Cheers’ and to the giant breweries, as our friends down the road once said, ‘Come and Take It.’"

[Editor's note: We’ll update this story as it progresses.]

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