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10 Crafty Beers Made By Big Beer Companies

December 2, 2013  |  4:55pm

Breaking into the brewery business takes a lot of time and a lot of money. But that hasn’t stopped the more than 2,500 independent breweries to eat away at the market share of mass-produced beer year after year. Big Beer has responded by gobbling up craft breweries or launching crafty brands themselves.

Since Coors launched Blue Moon in 1995, many more big breweries have dipped their toes into the micro waters. If there’s an upside to Big Beer investing in craft breweries, it’s that some good beers have received wider distribution than they might otherwise. Goose Island is probably the best example.

Blue Moon
The original crafty beer distributed to the masses was this fruity wheat beer. It’s served as a gateway craft beer for people that have had limited knowledge and taste in the subject. But as it’s now owned by MillerCoors, it was never really a true, independent craft beer in the first place. Just a decent, tasty gateway drug.
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Magic Hat
With so much variety, it’s hard to think that the loveable and dependable Magic Hat is owned by North American Breweries (which also owns Pyramid). Until 2010, it was its own craft brewery. But there’s so much variety, and they still make all of the popular beers that gave Magic Hat its name, you shouldn’t feel too bad about picking up any of their beers.
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Shock Top
The beer that’s famous for its fruit flavored treats such as the Belgian White or Lemon Shandy is part of the big machine known as Anheuser-Busch. The guys that make Bud Ice also make Shock Top. Remember that next time you want to order this sweet beer.
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Goose Island
The Chicago based beer was sold to Anheuser-Busch in 2011, but before that it was the craft beer of Chicago. The recipes haven’t changed and the beer is still good, so there is no problem referring to it as a “craft” beer.
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Kona
The Hawaiian favorite is actually owned in part by the Craft Brew Alliance and by Anheuser-Busch, which allows for a wide distribution of this island beer, making it available in most states.
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ZiegenBock
Anheuser-Busch got into the Texas bock market with this beer, an answer to the popular Shiner Bock, also from the Lone Star State. The Ziegen brand distributes a popular bock as well as a few other varieties as it competes with Shiner Bock in the Texas craft beer marketplace.
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Killian’s Irish Red
This popular red beer is owned by MillerCoors, almost effectively killing the Irish vibe it had. The crazy thing is that it does have an Irish history, as the recipe came from 1860s Ireland.
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Leinenkugel’s
The brewery founded in the 1860s outside of Milwaukee was purchased by Miller in 1988. We all know the family-themed commercials, and while much of the beer has stayed the same, it just loses that family appeal when you take a closer look at the fine print.
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Widmer Brothers
Widmer has a contract with the Craft Brew Alliance and Anheuser-Busch gives this beer good distribution throughout the country. Widmer Brothers is also famous for their variety and seasonal packs.
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Unibroue
The good people at Unibroue have been crafting fantastic beers for years. However, in the mid 2000s it was scooped up by Sapporo, a large Japanese brewing company that has good distribution in the U.S. The deal didn’t negate the taste and layers that come with these beers, especially La Fin Du Monde.
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