Sam Adams maker Boston Beer (SAM) was a craft brewing pioneer when it was founded in 1984. But these days, it's losing out to the smaller brands snapped up by giants like Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) .
Earlier this month, Boston Beer's outspoken founder and chairman, Jim Koch, penned a New York Times opinion piece bemoaning the consolidation in the beer industry. American craft brewers have proliferated, but growth has slowed to single digits in recent years. That growth slowdown is partly natural market maturation, Koch wrote, but also due to actions by "a handful of gargantuan global brewers, aided by slack government antitrust oversight."
Koch argued that a series of megamergers over the past decade created a "duopoly" in beer between Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch. One consequence of that duopoly is consolidation among wholesalers, who may "favor their primary suppliers [i.e. Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch] over independent craft brewers when it comes to promotion, visibility, shelf space and marketing support."
In the past, Koch has also blamed the United States' corporate taxes for the wave of foreign acquisitions of U.S. brewers, telling the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 2015, "Because of our broken corporate tax system, I can honestly predict that I will likely be the last American owner of Boston Beer Company."