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Danny's Liquors Urges Customers To Stop Drinking 'Gooseweiser'

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 28, 2015 8:00PM

Update: We have reached out to Goose Island for comment and will update when we receive a reply.

If you've driven or walked down Western Avenue you may have seen this public service announcement on the LED board outside Danny's Liquors in Bucktown/Logan Square.

We thought the bitterness over Anheuser-Busch/InBEV's purchase of Goose Island Beer Co. in 2011 had largely subsided. By most accounts the merger has been a boon for Goose Island. Former Chicagoisto Paul Schneider, now brewing with Solemn Oath, wrote extensively about the fallout from the deal and how Goose Island is still doing good things here and at Solemn Oath's website.

While there have been some missteps of late—312 Urban Pale Ale, in our opinion, was a misguided attempt at re-creating the success of 312 Urban Wheat Ale—the successes have outweighed the failures. And there are admittedly some folks so orthodox against the Goose Island/A-B marriage who will never drink another drop of Goose Island beer again. They are, again, a minority.

So why is Danny's throwing shade at "Gooseweiser?" According to Danny's Scott Tomczack, it was a response to what they believe was bad customer service from Goose Island's distributors. "They weren't offering us the same prices and discounts as other accounts, and they screwed us on our Bourbon County Stout order," Tomczak told Chicagoist.

This is not an isolated complaint, nor is it unique to Goose Island. The three-tier alcohol distribution system that governs how beer, wine and spirits are shipped and sold across the country ostensibly serves as a series of checks and balances to ensure a level playing field. These days, however, craft brewing is the one aspect of the beer industry that has shown strong growth and both A-B/InBEV and MillerCoors have been lining up craft beer brands under their corporate umbrella like chess pieces while using current laws on the books (such as Illinois' Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act) to strengthen their market presence by developing close (if not incestuous) relationships with distributors.

Sales reps for these distributors have one goal in mind: increasing their commissions. Having worked as a buyer at a bar, I've had reps promise me glassware, discounts on cases and kegs if they placed a beer behind my bar and other incentives. Like Tomczak, I also reserved the right to drop a brand if I felt the distributor reps weren't giving me the attention I felt I deserved. But I never took a measure this extreme; my stocking decisions were based on what sold. For what it's worth, my interactions with Goose Island reps and their distributors was always cordial and fruitful, but that was a seeming lifetime ago and Goose Island was still an independent brewery. Scott Tomczak's feelings about Goose Island and the lack of personal touch with sales reps are exactly what the folks who criticized the merger with A-B worried about.

Now let's look at the alternatives Danny's offers. MGD, Miller Lite and Coors products are $6.99 for a 12-pack but most beer geeks would not consider those beers to be "good."

Schlafly, however? We can support that and, in fact, the popular St. Louis brewery is now distributing select brands from its portfolio to Chicago accounts, including Danny's. It's no longer a "south of I-80" fable. Their APA is available at a host of Chicago accounts.