The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 29, 2012

Mike Pound: As beer maker goes global, customers change, too

Apparently, I was misunderstood.

Last week I was at a restaurant and I asked our waiter if I could get another bottle of Budweiser. Well, all I can think is that the waiter told somebody at the bar, who told somebody else, who told the guy who delivers Budweiser to the restaurant, who told his boss, who told his boss, who eventually told somebody at Anheuser-Busch InBev in St. Louis, who told his boss, who told his boss, who told ... well you get the idea.

The next thing I know I’m reading a story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch about Anheuser-Busch InBev buying Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, the maker of Corona (among others) for $20.1 billion.

And all because I asked my waiter for one more beer.

According to the newspaper story, the new deal will increase Anheuser-Busch InBev’s beer volume from about 300 million annually to about 350 million barrels. I don’t know about you but I like the idea of having a little beer in reserve.

By the way, is it just me or does $20.1 billion seem like a lot of money to spend on beer?

I mean, when I was much younger I would wake up on Sunday and discover that I spent my last 20 bucks the night before on beer, but I don’t recall ever spending $20.1 billion. I may have, but I don’t remember doing that. Of course, if I did spend $20.1 billion on beer it stands to reason that I wouldn’t remember it, so it’s possible that I did.

The newspaper story mentioned that A-B InBev has 200 brands and 116,000 employees, and that after it buys Grupo Modelo it will have total annual revenues of $47 billion and 150,000 employees.

Personally, the deal means I’m going to have to start dressing a little bit better.

See, when Anheuser-Busch was owned by the Busch family, the fanciest beer it sold was Michelob. But now that the company is owned by the folks from InBev, I’ve had to deal with a whole host of new beers. There is Stella Artois, which is Belgian for “really expensive beer.” There is Brahma, which I always thought was a name for a steer. There is something called Boddingtons, which sounds slightly British, and there is Dommelsch, which to me sounds like a German insult. And now there are Mexican beers such as Corona, Modelo Especial, Victoria, Pacifico and Negra Modelo.

What all of this means is my beer company has gone sort of global, which I think means sometime soon I will turn into an expensive beer swilling, universal health care loving, Socialist, Fascist, Communist (or one of those other “ist” words) and the next thing I know somebody is going to start asking to see my birth certificate.

You know who I feel the worst for in all of this? Louie and Frankie, the Budweiser Lizards. I am afraid they will never work in commercials again. I mean it was hard enough to find a spot for two talking lizards, but now to work for InBev, Frankie and Louie will have to be able to speak French, German and Spanish.

It’s a crying shame is what it is.

So tonight, on my way home, I will probably stop somewhere and pick up some beer. But when I do, if the sales clerk asks if I need anything else, I’m just going to keep my mouth shut. I don’t want InBev going out and buying another beer company just because of me.

Seriously, all I asked for was one beer!

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