San Francisco Chronicle: Why Anheuser-Busch merger could help California craft breweries

When the Department of Justice announced last week that it will allow beer company Anheuser-Busch InBev to proceed with its $108 billion acquisition of rival SABMiller, it may have initially sounded like bad news for the craft beer industry. A merger of the world’s two largest beer companies would surely mean diminished competition, making it harder for the little guys to stay in business.

What hurts craft beer hurts California the most. The state has over 680 craft breweries, more than any other state. But many California craft beer advocates are calling the Justice Department’s decision a win for small, independent brewers, because it includes serious restrictions on Anheuser-Busch InBev that will help protect all breweries’ access to markets.

“I think the craft brewing industry as a whole should be pleased with the results,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association. “There could have been more (restrictions); we think there should have been more. But it was an intelligent decision overall.”

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