State regulators are taking action on one of the craft beer industry’s biggest gripes.
For years, small breweries have complained about anti-competitive and illegal practices they’ve said are common among the big distribution companies that sell brands like Budweiser, Coors and Miller.
Generally, the long-alleged pay-to-play tactics include paying bars, restaurants or retailers to carry a specific brand of beer, and not its competitors. That could include paying for a bar’s new draft system – if the bar ensures that draft system is always stocked with one company’s offerings, or offering a free keg of one brand to make sure its closest competitor isn’t on tap right next to it.
Last week, the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control division issued one of its largest ever punishments against companies doing that.
If the punishment signals what’s to come, it could give a boost to a San Diego craft beer industry that’s growing into an influential player.
The agency that issues and enforces liquor licenses across California reached a settlement with Anheuser-Busch – makers of brands like Bud Light, Shock Top and Goose Island – for $400,000, and a distributor called Straub Distributing Company for $10,000.