The name Shiner is synonymous with the bock beer that’s been brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in the small Texas town of Shiner for more than 100 years. But now, the name of another bock is appearing around town, plastered onto large billboards promoting Karbach, a beer produced in Houston. The Anheuser-Busch InBev conglomerate – also the parent company of Budweiser — recently acquired Karbach, and that’s not sitting well with some folks in Shiner.
“It was an aggressive response to an aggressive marketing scheme that they felt that they were under attack by, so it said ‘Come and take it; this is our town. We’ve had big companies try to take market share before and we’re not going to back down,’” Douglas says. “It was very Texas battle style.”
Douglas says the bock style of beer – a strong, dark lager – makes up only a small percentage of the overall beer market. But in that niche, Shiner Bock controlled 93% of sales last year.
Many brewers have tried to compete with Shiner, and Karbach’s Crawford Bock is the latest attempt to do so.
“The craft brewing scene has obviously exploded in recent years; it now claims about 24% of the U.S. market for beer,” Douglas says. “However, compared to some of these bigger players, it’s really no competition.”
Douglas says some Shiner citizens take issue with a large beer company entering the craft beer market.
“It does bring up this question of what happens when a big company like Anheuser-Busch buys a craft brewer and keeps that name and continues branding with that same craft brewery image,” Douglas says.
Written by Libby Cohen.