The recently-announced fact that InBev acquired Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies
is generally bad for us homebrewers, and an evil move by InBev mega-corp... NB and Midwest are the two big online homebrew supply stores, kinda the Amazons of homebrew. Knowledgable staff, and occasional good deals.
Suspicions run deep, and conspiracy theories abound, but the truth is that InBev doesn't do things for altruistic reasons, and they are not fans of the craft brew movement; anything that wakes up the huddled masses to the idea that there is something better than the swill they attempt to pour down our throats is not something InBev tolerates lying down. At best, they just want to exploit the $50M yearly sales of NB -- which seems unlikely, since that's a drop in the bucket for InBev; even in that scenario, I would place hefty bets on them "streamlining" NB's operations and raising prices. More likely, they plan to slowly phase it out, thus hurting the homebrew supply market and thereby stifling innovation. At worst, they have nefarious plans to subvert the quality or ingredients, or permanently damage the supply chains.
The optimist (buried deep) within me hopes that this will lead NB customers to seek elsewhere, and indeed this seems to be the case, at least from comments on reddit and homebrewtalk. Hopefully, this will drive more local homebrew supply stores to ramp up online presence, which would be good for their business. I'm hoping this doesn't affect my local homebrew store, Seven Bridges Organic Brewing Supply...
InBev have been buying various successful semi-craft brands, like Blue Moon, Goose Island and Elysian. I worry about their intent, worry they want to buy up and phase out the more successful craft brews. Time will tell, I suppose.
But I believe the craft brew market is here to stay. America now has elevated taste buds, and will no longer just accept the Pils-lager "horse piss" that is thrust upon them by the giants. Ideally these trends drive more of us to brew our own, or to consume from local brewpubs brew their own, or host local brewers. I daydream of a return to times when all local pubs had their own unique brews, and diversity flourished.