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Wyden Calls For Consumer Protections in Reported Beer Merger

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D) on Monday called for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to ensure consumer protections during a potential merger between Anheuser-Busch InBEv and SABMiller.

Widen wrote a letter to the FTC and DOJ expressing his concern about the merger of the two beer giants. He called on the agencies to weigh in in any future review process that would affect craft brewers, consumers and distributors in Oregon and throughout the country.

“I am concerned by recent reports suggesting Anheuser-Busch InBev and its wholly-owned distributors may have acted to curb competition in markets including Oregon,” Wyden’s letter reads. “The reports detail large brewers seeking to obstruct and outmaneuver craft brewers by purchasing distributors and exerting control over tap lines and store shelves. In light of these events, I ask you to consider not only the direct effects of any proposed merger’s impact on consumers and competitors in the large scale beer market, but also the effects on the ability for brewers of all sizes to enjoy fair access to distribution chains and consumers.”

This is not the first time that Wyden has spoken out about the issue. In June, he introduced the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which would cut taxes and modernize outdated regulations for craft brewers, cider makers, vintners and distillers.

Read the full text of Wyden’s letter below:

Dear Madam Attorney General and Chairwoman Ramirez:

I write today to urge you to consider carefully the impacts on Oregon brewers, consumers, and beer distributors as you review any future consolidation arising out of reported merger discussions between beer makers Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller.

The brewing industry represents a major economic sector in the state of Oregon, home to more than 230 breweries which employ more than 7,400 people and contribute $2.8 billion to the state’s economy. Oregon’s thriving brewing industry has developed largely as a result of the state’s distinctive agricultural sector, strong craft beer culture, and fair and robust marketplace. 

I am concerned by recent reports suggesting Anheuser-Busch InBev and its wholly owned distributors may have acted to curb competition in markets including Oregon.  The reports detail large brewers seeking to obstruct and outmaneuver craft brewers by purchasing distributors and exerting control over tap lines and store shelves. Out of concern over such reports, I have consistently proposed increased enforcement resources for those agencies charged with ensuring a fair marketplace for brewers and distributors.

In light of these events, I ask you to consider not only the direct effects of any proposed merger’s impact on consumers and competitors in the large scale beer market, but also the effects on the ability for brewers of all sizes to enjoy fair access to distribution chains and consumers. It is incumbent on those charged with enforcing the nation’s competition laws to ensure that this proposed merger or others like it not disadvantage craft brewers in Oregon and nationwide or restrict consumer choice. The review of any such arrangement provides an opportunity to work with brewers and distributors of all sizes to set clear rules for competition and ensure that anti-competitive practices do not recur in the future.

Finally, I ask that you keep lawmakers apprised as this situation develops and work with the Congress to ensure that the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies charged with enforcing fair trade and competition laws have the resources necessary to carry out their duties. 

If you have questions or my office can be of assistance, please contact Christopher Arneson of my staff at 202-224-4515.

Sincerely,

Ron Wyden

United States Senator

 

Related Slideshow: Ten New Beers You Should Try

Sometimes change is good. Try some of these new, rotating 2015 beers.

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Oakshire Cucumber

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ABV: 4.0%

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Oakshire Gose

Also from Oakshire brewing (an Oregon brewery) comes the Oakshire Gose to 11. Released on draft and in cans, Oakshire Gose is a pale, gold beer that’s lightly fruity. This Oakshire Gose is a wheat ale with a taste that hints of salt and it's also marketed as a compromise between light and smooth.

ABV: 4.0%

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Double Liberty

From Anchor brewing company in California, here is a fresh winner with a high alcohol content for all double IPA loyalists. An amber beer with a tropical flare, the Anchor Double Liberty is an IPA with a citrus edge. With an appropriate amount of carbonation as well as being hoppy with a trace of pine, the Anchor Double Liberty is a unique package – perfect for IPA fans who believe they have seen it all. 

ABV: 8.2% 

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Ballast Point

Fortunately for beer fans, hops are one of the few crops that have been growing right on schedule this year. With a sweet taste similar to a vanilla latte, the Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm is the first in a series of beers in alignment with Victory at Sea, their imperial importer. Perfect for warm weather (hailing from San Diego), the Calm Before the Storm is a light-bodied golden cream ale that incorporates cold-brewed Caffe Calabria Coffee. 

ABV: 5.5%

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Night Owl

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ABV: 6.7%

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Oktoberfest

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. traveled to Germany this year in order to partner up with Augsburg’s Brauhaus Riegele to create their first Oktoberfest beer. A sweet malt beer, the Oktoberfest collaboration beer lives up to its season: it is crisp, refreshing, and there are hints of caramel. If this isn't enough, look for a slight walnut flavor in the aftertaste. 

ABV: 6.0%

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Ground Kontrol

Ninkasi Brewing Company, the Eugene-based craft beer producing elite, have unveiled a new beer that defies gravity. Literally. Who needs NASA when Ninkasi has their very own NSP (Ninkasi Space Program), which set out to accomplish an ultimate goal about a year ago: get brewer's yeast to space and return it to Earth so that it can be utilized it in Ninkasi's very own craft beer. In terms of taste, this beer is out of this world: the Imperial Stout is brewed with Oregon hazelnuts, star anise, cocoa nibs and is fermented with an Ale yeast. Ninkasi has apparently won its very own space race. 

ABV: 10.0%

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Atlas Apricot

Hard cider is making a comeback, becoming surprisingly competitive with beer. Indeed, with popularity often comes increased room for creativity. Take, for example, apricot cider: a rare, but worthwhile breed. In fact, there may only be one cider company who has really nailed their own recipe for apricot cider, the key being fresh Yakima peach juice and local Hood River apples. Atlas Cider Company, based out of Bend, Oregon, has mastered fruity, dry ciders, and their dry apricot cider is no exception -- expect this cocktail cider to impress. 

ABV: 6.2%

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Blue Moon

Blue Moon is perhaps best known as that beer that gets you into beer. However, it is also a regular distributor of limited release and seasonal flavors that are fairly inventive. This time, look out for their oatmeal stout entitled Blue Moon Cappuccino Oatmeal Stout, which is brewed from cocoa and decaffeinated coffee. 

ABV: 5.9%

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Atwater Brewing Company is releasing a beer that should satisfy your booze and your Starbucks cravings with their Pumpin Spice Latte IPA. This fall, Atwater has your back with this special blend of vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon nutmeg and coffee. This rich red beer will remind you that life is still ok when you are too old to trick-or-treat. Also, note the reasonable alcohol percentage below. 

ABV: 6.8%

 
 

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