The new brew : the reaction of America's big breweries to the microbrew revolution of the 1980s and 90s
Melia, John Patrick
In the 1980s and 90s, the United States beer industry entered a period known as the Microbrew Revolution. During this period, a myriad of small breweries emerged to meet the new demand for specialty beers among American beer drinkers. Current literature generally judges America's biggest breweries (Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors) to have been failures in this market niche and downplays their activity in the specialty beer market. In fact, big breweries were quite active in the domestic specialty market. This paper analyzes the various international partnerships, domestic partnerships and new brands that the Big Three undertook during the Microbrew Revolution in an attempt to profit from the American specialty beer market. While many of the big brewery's efforts in this emerging niche indeed flopped, the Big Three's strategies often proved to be quite profitable as well. This presence of so many successful specialty brands affiliated with big breweries challenges the popular conclusion that the Big Three were failures in the domestic specialty market during the Microbrew Revolution.