The 5 Stages of Craft Beer Grief: How to Cope When Your Favorite Brewery Sells Out

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So your favorite brewery just announced a “strategic partnership” with a larger beer conglomerate that will secure the future of the brand for years to come. Why do these press releases always read like they were written by Lando Calrissian right before Han and Leia arrived at Cloud City? Whenever one of these financial arrangements comes to light, fans of the respective brand often find themselves overcome with a range of emotions that can actually mimic the loss of a beloved friend or family member. With that in mind, here’s a guide to identifying these feelings so you can successfully survive the craft beer acquisition grieving process.


Big business announcements generally come out first thing in the morning, and let’s face it…you were hitting the sauce pretty hard last night. Not in an “it’s a problem” kind of way, mind you, but you were lucky enough to score tickets to a bottle release of a small-batch tequila-barrel-aged imperial stout before they sold out online in 16 seconds. Of course you were going to drink on a Sunday night…that was going to happen.

Now that it’s Monday morning, the announcement of your favorite brand’s acquisition by a major company may seem like some sort of waking nightmare. Perhaps Biff Tannen really did make it back to 1955 with Grays Sports Almanac, or maybe this is what happens when you end the evening with an absinthe nightcap. Whatever the reason for this obvious hallucination, it’s best that you roll over for a few more minutes of sleep so this madness will be gone when you reopen your bloodshot eyes. Still, warm up the flux capacitor…just in case.


They’re mocking you. Every time you open your refrigerator -which frankly contains more beer than food—the light flips on to illuminate the label artwork that looks back at you in a nihilistic symphony of humiliation. You feel like such a fool that you placed your trust in a company that heartlessly abandoned you like LeBron did to those poor citizens of Miami. You can feel Bruce Banner slipping away, which means that the big green guy is coming out to play. Hulk smash!

Before you channel your inner Carrie Nation and hatchet the offending beer bottles, you’ll want to trade those ironic gladiator sandals for closed-toed shoes. Only burn piles of brewery swag in well-ventilated areas to allow for the safe dissipation of fumes laced with noxious chemicals and disappointment. An angry outburst can be cathartic, but it’s important that your emotional purge doesn’t come at the expense of your own personal safety. Also, don’t take it out on tasting room personnel who literally had nothing to do with it.


You may feel the urge to go full Lloyd Dobler and stand in front of your favorite brewery with a boom box, begging them to reconsider. It’s a solid thought, since many in the craft community fall into the hipster realm, which means that they would probably be soothed by the dulcet tones of the analog audio cassette hiss in your persuasive attempts, right? Here are two great reasons why you shouldn’t go through with it:

1.A billion dollars provides the ability to buy a G5 airplane and fly Peter Gabriel to the brewery for a private concert, which is way better than your crappy radio. It’s pretty much the reason why anybody wants to become a billionaire.

2.Restraining orders are forever.


It’s time to look back at all of the good times that you had with your favorite brewery while it was still independent. Since nobody actually has physical pictures to cut people out of anymore, your Instagram account is about to become scorched Earth, and the smoldering remains will never betray that you had any relationship with “that” place. This is when you tearfully go through your Facebook wall to untag yourself in every image, post and check-in. It might be a good idea to stay away from Untappd for a few days. Those few bottled rarities that you couldn’t muster the will to smash are your only links to the halcyon days before corporate intrusion, and it will never be that good again, EVER!


The sun does rise the following morning. Lucky for you, America is still in the midst of a craft beer renaissance, which means that there are still plenty of options for you to get a great brew from a local, independent brewer. You’d also be hard-pressed to turn down $1 billion for a company that you started in your garage. The reality is that in many of these deals, new ownership smartly lets the people at the newly-acquired company do the very same things that made the brand an attractive buyout candidate. After all, you still line up on Black Friday to get Bourbon County Stout, don’t you?

Don Ayres is a writer based in San Diego who credits Ballast Point for getting him hooked on craft beer, and went through all of these emotions in the span of an hour after hearing about their sale to Constellation Brands. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @TheAlcoTourist.

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