Texas Craft Brewery Fights Back: ‘That’s Not Shiner Bock My Friends’ (Update)
The Spoetzl Brewery, makers of Shiner Bock beer, has some strong words for Anheuser-Busch InBev in response to a local ad campaign the brewery says is deliberately trying to confuse beer lovers who want to support independently-owned breweries.
Spoetzl Brewery is an independent craft brewery based in Shiner, Texas. Spoetzl published an open letter in the Shiner Gazette this week, taking issue with a string of local ads around the area.
The ads feature Crawford Bock beer from Karbach Brewing Co., a Texas brewery that is owned by AB InBev. Spoetzl has been in Shiner, Texas, since 1909, and the brewery wants to be very clear with its local supporters that the beer the ads are referring to is not made by an independent craft brewer. The letter begins:
“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.”
The Texas craft brewery goes on to write that its beers have the independent craft brewers seal on the packaging–a certified logo created by the Brewers Association, publishers of CraftBeer.com, in 2017 to help beer lovers identify true craft brewers.
Spoetzl’s open letter reminds customers the seal is something beer lovers won’t find on the packaging of breweries owned by Big Beer:
“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.”
The brewery also posted the open letter on its social media channels.
The story continued Friday. Karbach Brewing Co. released a statement from David Graham, brand manager, saying the ads were placed by a distributor.
“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,” Graham says.
Karbach reps were also distributing a photo of a billboard for the music festival featuring Crawford Bock. You can see the image on Eater.
While the billboard doesn’t appear to have the words Spoetzl shared in the open letter, a report from Texas TV station KENS 5 does show an image of a banner that reads: “There’s a new Bock in Shiner. Karbach Brewing Company.”
You can understand why a 110-year-old brewery in a town of about 2,100 people could take issue with the ads. Spoetzl doesn’t take its independence lightly: “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,” the brewery writes.
You can read the full letter on Shiner’s Facebook page or Instagram feed.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated Friday, Nov. 8, 2019.