Beers_philadelphiaPhoto: Philly Beer Enthusiast

Of course they are.

Great read on this morning about Anheuser Busch (we'll just call them "Budweiser") trademarking the local area code, "215," as part of strategy replicated in 14 other cities.

Their goal? To release locally branded beers in major markets. Sounds smart, but it comes at the expense of local brewers (like Yards, Victory, and Dogfish Head) who will immediately have their beers bumped from some taps and shelves: []

The filing is the first public step toward creating a new beer by the same name.

"We're being attacked," said Bill Covaleski, brewmaster and president of Victory Brewing Co., a craft brewery in Downingtown. "Philadelphia's craft brewers are going to be forced to defend our status, but I'd rather be in this position than be the attacker."

Anheuser-Busch declined comment on the filing, but Covaleski said he expected to see a regionalized "215" beer on tap in six to eight months.


This may not sound like a big deal… however, every move Budweiser makes impacts the entire industry. Think Ruben J. Amaro at the Winter Meetings- smug, cunning, and with little to no regard for the unwashed masses.

A terrific documentary, Beer Wars, details the practices employed by Budweiser that adversely affect so many local brewers, including the ones found in Philadelphia and surrounding areas.

Budweiser will pick up on industry trends – in this case the local micro-brew fad – and step right into the market. Examples: Ever notice how Land Shark Lager and Bud Light Lime, both brands owned by Budweiser, popped up at the height of Corona’s popularity? Or how Bud Light Golden Wheat and Shock Top sprung out of nowhere in response to the growing popularity of crafted wheat beers and even Blue Moon (Coors)? Bud's size immediately makes them a player in any market they enter.

Again, the analogy of Ruben Amaro riding into Texas on a white horse and swooping up Clifton Lee comes to mind. But for the sake of this argument, let's hate the bad guy.

Ever since prohibition ended, the US has mandated a three-tier beer system to flex control over the industry. The first tier, the brewers and manufactures, are prohibited from selling directly to consumers. They sell their beer to large wholesalers (tier two), who, in turn, deliver beer to the distributors (tier three). 

This does two things: 1) It drives up the cost of beer 20-30% and 2) results in large manufacturers (Bud, Miller, and Coors, but mostly Bud) imposing their will on the entire industry.

Since Budweiser – thanks to the many brands it owns – is far and away the wholesalers’ largest client, it becomes very difficult for smaller brands, especially local micro-brewers, to get their beers into stores and bars.

Wholesalers, who often layout the store displays, are forced to please Budweiser by placing all of its brands on their trucks and displaying their products at eye-level on shelves. That leaves very little room for your Yards IPA, folks.

Even though there's a good chance whatever watered-down "local" brew Bud comes up with won’t be as good as your favorite, you can expect 215 Liberty Conglomerate Fuck Yourself Ale to be on tap soon… and probably at CBP.