Connecticut craft breweries raising concerns over possible beer merger

HARTFORD -- Owners of several Connecticut craft beer companies came together Monday afternoon to speak with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, voicing concerns over a possible merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SAB Miller.

"If you see those two companies come together, that one company will now own 85-90% of the entire worldwide beer market," said Curt Cameron, co-founder of Thomas Hooker Brewery. "The challenge for us little guys is how do we compete in a market with these really big guys."

Cameron and other owners are concerned that a merger will cause beer distributors to push harder for big-name brands on store shelves. "I know that these large, international brands put a lot of pressure on them [distributors] to sell their product as opposed to the craft breweries," said Cameron. Cameron said he has a good relationship with his distributors, and feels bad that they are pressured.

Back East Brewery in Bloomfield raised concerns about ingredient sourcing. "It is important that we have access to the ingredients," said co-founder Tony Karlowicz. "Without the ingredients, we can't make our beer." Karlowicz said, adding that a massive conglomeration could potentially buy up the world supply of crucial ingredients, like hops and malted barley.

Senator Blumenthal said he wants local breweries to let him know if, and when, they feel the effects of such consolidation. "These mega brew mergers threaten competition," said Blumenthal.

Cameron said there could be potential future lawsuits brought up on a national level to address the problem, adding that there is no word on when the merger could be finalized.