More Corporate Beer Moving Into OC – What the Ale!

Golden Road’s wall art depicts its parent company’s NYSE trade value. Photo by Nick Gingold

When I saw Golden Road pull out of its Oakland beer garden project among immense local pressure, it was akin to Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star. Little did I realize the money for that project would be reinvested a couple of months later into the ABInBev-owned brewery’s newest Huntington Beach endeavor.

I shouldn’t be shocked to see massive beverage conglomerates finding Orange County ripe for investment. After all, we have a strong economy filled with pleasure-seekers curious about what’s new in the area, plus billions of tourist dollars rolling in from our 42 miles of lush coastline, theme parks and sports teams, as well as one of the largest convention centers in the nation.

In Anaheim, Constellation Brand’s Ballast Point is nearly open in Downtown Disney, and there’s no denying its product has changed since being sold for $1.5 billion, considering its beer often sits on Target store shelves well past its prime.

When people travel, they usually seek out local flavors, and I would feel duped stumbling into a place that resembles a legitimate local experience, yet is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in another country. When I want local, I want small, independent and tasty.

All around these corporate poseurs are some incredible independent beer experiences, including riip beer co., Beachwood Brewing and the family-run Four Sons Brewing in Huntington Beach. And Anaheim is our very own brewery oasis, with more than a dozen places where you can chat with the owner most days. I’m not sure that would ever happen at Busch Gardens.

Eat and drink where you must, but look for the Brewers Association Independent Craft Beer logo to be sure you’re supporting local.

Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!

5 Replies to “More Corporate Beer Moving Into OC – What the Ale!”

  1. Did you write this article wearing Levi’s on your iMac after washing your hair with Dove soap? Why is the line drawn at craft beer? From what I see this company is providing hundreds of jobs to locals and tax revenue. Explain to us all oh holy “Certified Cicerone Beer Server” why this is such a bad thing? If your argument stems from “It’s corporate beer” you are totally misguided. Hopefully you do your next article on suicide nets at the Apple manufacturing plants…

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for writing in and for the feedback, I appreciate it. Big beer continues to use unfair business practice as a way to limit small and local businesses. This is illegal, and they continue to do so, be fined for it, and continue to do the same things. In 2017, the OC Golden Road distributor was nailed for around 20 counts of this (doc here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7K4yUn1NG5bMXR3MkFRblFpU0J0V0MwRGlVa1ZYMjQySnQw) and in California, was fined $400K for pay to play (https://www.goodbeerhunting.com/sightlines/2017/3/13/california-fines-anheuser-busch-wholesalers-for-pay-to-play).
    Drink and enjoy what you want, but I don’t see Dove or Apple pulling shady, illegal tactics in the marketplace to gain a deeper foothold. I support local mostly because the beer is better, but also it’s great to see my money stay in the neighborhood and not to some foreign corporate conglomerate that is fighting our local businesses to stay relevant.
    What’s your favorite beer? Thanks man, Greg

    1. Greg, if you believe that Apple, or Levi’s or any number of major brands don’t use the same tactics by paying for retail space, stealing competitors patents (Apple) and the like, than you are blinded by hypocrisy. In the world we live in, it is illegal to do those things in the alcohol and beer world (side note: it’s done by every company, every day… Even the holy Stone Brewing). Everyone acts like big beer wasn’t in the market first. It was craft beer that came and took a big dump in their backyard (which I’m happy about). But what do you expect a company to do when it starts losing market share? It’s going to fight back, and rightfully so. Another point that you and so many writers like you miss is that the damage you do generally is not felt by the big beer companies, it’s felt by the little guys out there working for them just trying to make a living too. I don’t know how many people Golden Road employs, but I would make the assumption that most of them are blue collar workers just like those that work for independent breweries. And judging by how busy that Anaheim location is every time I’m there, I’d say that your opinion doesn’t represent the majority of your audience in OC.

      1. Hi Steve, thanks again for the reply. I have yet to see Stone do anything illegal in the marketplace, and I still fail to see the apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison with Apple or Levis, considering there aren’t independent phone makers or clothing manufacturers producing products I can readily find in my neighborhood to purchase. If there were, I would gladly support them if quality was higher than the average mass-produced imported target purchase.
        Big beer can do what it wants, and I will continue to shed light on it as my job as an independent freelance beverage writer without stake in any business. I often find people that speak up for corporate beer have some stake in it, without providing transparency. Which is fine, I guess. It’s only beer.
        Regarding damaging the folks that work for them, I don’t see that as relevant as they’re not part of the corporate decision-making process. I choose my words very precisely knowing full well I’m facebook-friends with the brewing team and management team at Golden Road Anaheim. I have the ultimate respect for who they are, how they got there, and what they, themselves create. I have good friends that own McDonalds franchises and think what they do is gross.
        As far as GR being busy…I guess WalMart always has a full lot too…
        Cheers, and thanks for the convo. – Nagel

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