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Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  845 ratings  ·  127 reviews
North American Guild of Beer Writer Award Recipient 

Goose Island opened as a family-owned Chicago brewpub in the late 1980s, and it soon became one of the most inventive breweries in the world. In the golden age of light, bland and cheap beers, John Hall and his son Greg brought European flavors to America. With distribution in two dozen states, two brewpubs and status as
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 1st 2018 by Chicago Review Press
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-and-bev
Macrobreweries dominated the beer market for decades, but when craft beer began growing in popularity, the big boys started to see them as a threat. This is the story of how beer giant Anheuser-Busch acquired Chicago's Goose Island, producer of a beloved and lauded barrel-aged stout. The purchase ended up being a watershed moment, marking a turning point in the beer industry when big beer started to see microbreweries as potential competitors and decided to gobble them up before they became a to ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most excellent read which takes an immediate spot in a select list of essential books about American craft beer.

Roughly divided in two equal parts the first part, ‘Barrel-Aged Stout’ deals about Goose Island, AB InBev and beer in general pre-takeover, the second part, ‘Selling Out’ post-takeover. While the focus in part one lies on the origin story of Goose Island, the rise of this iconic brewery didn’t happen in a vacuum. The author provides a lot of context about the history of craft beer in
Eli Hornyak
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and extremely well researched.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.25 out of 5 stars

An engrossing read about the birth of the craft beer revolution and the way in which "Big Beer" dealt with that market disruption. A must-read for any craft beer enthusiast who is interested in the history and business side of beer in the United States.
4.5 stars.

I have been fascinated with craft breweries since frequenting and falling in love with Imminent Brewing (Northfield, MN) since shortly after my 21st birthday. I always found the community spirit at that brewery to be so uplifting and loved discovering beers that I truly loved (I personally have always thought Budweiser, Coors, and Miller all taste like garbage) brewed by people with a love and talent for the craft. In all aspects of my life, shopping local is one of my top priorities,
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a beer guy, the topic of craft breweries “selling-out” to international macro breweries and venture capital is a hot topic of debate.

This book focuses on the story of John and Gary Hall, the leaders behind Goose Island Brewery. John Hall was an executive at Container Corporation of America – a corrugated box manufacturer. While he liked beer, he started the brewery because he saw a market opportunity (unlike many of his brewer contemporaries of the late 1980s/early 1990s who expanded from ho
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business by Josh Noel.  The style is engaging and lively and enticed me to read on through in the space of a day.

The title is carefully written and I sense can be read to appeal to various factions in the contentious argument between 'craft brewers' and 'big beer' around the world. What does 'craft' really mean? How big is big beer? Is the question of quantity versus quality? Who m
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm still pissed at Anheuser-Busch for that 2015 Superbowl ad, where craft beer is effete and Bud is for a man's man. Shit, I grew up in rural southern Iowa and the manly men there drink Busch Light, and woe unto he who shows up with a bottle of good craft beer. Even if that craft beer is flavorful and high alcohol, you're still a damn effeminate prick to them. I hate that big beer made idiots think Light beer (or Lite beer) is somehow masculine. ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love beer. I was in college during the mid to late 70's, when the only important feature of beer was how much it cost. Old Milwaukee was a big favorite. As I was beginning my teaching career in the early 80's, still with next to no money, a bar I frequented in Stroudsburg, PA., offered a 3 for 1 Rolling Rock pony bottle special for a dollar. Rolling Rock had a much smoother, refreshing taste when compared to the other beers of the day and was brewed in Pennsylvania, not far from my original ho ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an immensely readable and excellent book about the evolution of craft beer and the stealthy takeover by big beer aka Budweiser and Miller. Chicago's own Goose Island, a small family-owned craft brewery that opened in 1988 is the center of the story. I remember going there and thinking who would pay $5 for a beer? Until I tried it. It was unlike any beer I drank in Milwaukee when I attended college! My husband and I quickly became fans of the beer and the brewpubs. In fact, my husband sta ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you see Goose Island beers in pubs and supermarkets in the UK it’s because they were bought a few years ago by the company that brews Budweiser. This book tells the story of Goose Island’s founding in Chicago, the creation of some of their greatest beers, the sale (‘Selling Out’) and what happened after that. Lots of great stories and great characters, and while it’s clearly great fun to start a brewery, it’s also very hard to grow one past a certain point, which is why selling to a multinati ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Chicago Review Press for my free copy!

My small town has a long tradition of craft beer, and as I read this book, I overlaid that history on the timeline of Goose Island's launch, development, and sale. In my town, the annual fall beer festival started in 1998, and the winter festival began in 2014. In the intervening years, so much happened in the world of craft beer, and this book is a clear, interesting take on those events. I appreciated the hometown spin from Chicago Tribune wri
Rebekah Bailey
I'd like to slap the author silly for his overuse of the word "iconic". I was a die hard beer nerd during a lot of the years covered in this book. I consumed a lot of the beers mentioned, went to some of the festivals, and felt betrayed when I heard about the RateBeer buyout. At one time I was one of RB's top ten women raters. It was interesting to read some of the history of craft beer, and fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: engels, favorites
Great read that shows the evolution of U.S. craft beer by the story of Goose Island and the involvement of Anheuser Busch (AB Inbev). Interesting read for beer-lovers.
Melissa Hutchins
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
"American beer drinkers had been conditioned to believe they were choosing Anheuser-Busch's beer, but that was only half true; Anheuser-Busch had left them few other options." ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading about the many parts of this story including the establishment and growth of Goose Island, the development of Goose Island beers, the people involved, the good and the bad of selling to ABInBev, and even the business of craft and big beer. I found the tone informative and not inclined to favor big beer or craft beer except when conveyed by someone in the book.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting look into the world of both craft beer and 'big beer'. Prior to picking up this book, I had no idea just how powerful Anheuser-Busch is (or perhaps I should say 'was'). Nor had I ever heard of InBev. I have a lot to think about now when I go to bars or liquor stores!

The reason I'm only giving this three stars is that occasionally the timeline here gets confusing. Noel takes us through the founding of a brewery called Goose Island that is eventually sold to InBev (by way of Anheuse
Fraser Kinnear
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Most of this book is a history of Goose Island Brewing, which broadly tracks with the history of the craft brew industry that blossomed in the past 30 years. I came of age drinking Goose Island, so really enjoyed picking up some historical context for what I was drinking. Noel also provides a fascinating look into the beer industry, and how it functions. Supply chain, marketing, and production are all covered, as Noel describes the imporance and role of distributors, the success of the 312 rollo ...more
Stephen Griffith
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very well written book that gripped me immediately. I became aware of it through the Beer Advocate blog, where Josh Noel was given a forum to answer questions from regular people like me. I asked him something about the purchase by ABInv of Wicked Weed in Asheville, North Carolina in 1977, which was a very contentious topic on the blog at the time; and he answered very forthrightly and impressed me so much that I decided to read his book.

I'm in the habit of reading several books at once, and g
Erik Surewaard
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I did my MBA, I was confronted with many “cases”, i.e. a few pages with a description of a company and its problem(s) whilst operating in a certain industry.

Well... this book is actually one giant case study:) It is a very good description in how the “craft beer” segment grew and how AB Inbev reacted on it by buying out individual micro breweries. In this book, a detailed description is given on how Goose Island grew from nothing to an individual brand generating over 70M USD annualy.

It als
Michael J.
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Noel's final line: "John regretted how angry he became. He didn't regret the sale, though." Is up there with Michael Caine's response to an interviewer:

Interviewer: "You were in 'Jaws: The Revenge—"
Michael Caine: "Yes."
Interviewer: "That movie was terrible."
Michael Caine: "Yes, but the house it paid for was beautiful."
Woody Chandler
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I apologize for having been kind of lackadaisical in my reading habits since the end of SY 2017-'18, but with so much free time, I have been less motivated to read, which seems very ass-backwards for me.

I have been into "better beer" since 1985 & my first overseas liberty port of Barcelona, Spain. I was 20 y/o, a young enlisted sailor in the U.S. Navy & this was the moment that I had been awaiting since Boot Camp graduation. We rarely got underway & when we did, it was to head south to the Carib
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it

Applause rises from the tightly packed crowd, punctured with a few boots and hollers. But there is also a curious sound: a smattering of boos.

Gosh, this one took a while to read.

Look, there is a lot that is really good about this book. It's stunningly written. It's well-balanced. The storytelling is pretty good. The self-aware drama of Josh Noel's writing is kind of perfect.

Greg admired the artists who made beautiful things accessible to an urban lifestyle—the food of Paul Kahan, the music
Ryan Thorpe
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book tells the story of America's craft beer industry through the lens of Goose Island, a Chicago based brewery that sold to AB In-Bev. It does four things over the course of the book and I think it's pretty remarkable that the author did all four of them well:

(1) an economic history of how the beer industry grew in the 19th and early 20th century, consolidated in the 30s-80s, fragmented a bit in the 90s - 2000s, and has begun consolidating again as craft brewers ultimately sell to well fin

This is more than just the history of Goose Island Beer Company; this is the history of how Anheuser-Busch went from ignoring craft beer to trying to kill craft beer to (somewhat) embracing craft beer.

Goose Island was founded in 1988 and fairly quickly established themselves as a solid brewer in Chicago. In 1992 they basically invented the bourbon barrel-aged movement with their Bourbon County Stout and placed themselves among the leaders of the growing craft beer movement. Around this sam

Riley Haas
Oct 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
This is a readable, engaging, informative and, I think, pretty fair book about the AB InBev purchase of Goose Island and the broader beer landscape in North America. I love beer, and I thoroughly enjoyed some of these Goose Island beers, and I definitely prefer independent breweries to macros. So I am clearly Noel's target audience. But I think this book is probably interesting enough even if you are not into beer to the degree that I am.
Noel does a good job telling the story of Goose Island as
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very accessible read into the world of craft beer, a movement that has been growing by leaps and bounds since the 1980s. I really hope Josh Noel writes more non fiction books because he has the touch. The book is a fantastic play-by-play of Goose Island's journey as a brewery, complete with all the emotions and facts. This is the talent of the author, his ability to not only convey what was actually taking place but the feelings behind the events. It is an emotionally charged book ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I sped through the Audible version of the book and liked it so much I purchased the paperback so I could go back and make notes, highlight passages, etc. It's an extremely well-written and well-researched book detailing not only the Goose Island history, but also the ripple effect its sale (as the first significant "craft" purchase by Anheuser-Busch) seemed to have on the craft beer industry.

Craft-beer enthusiasts and beer history buffs will find a lot to like in this book. As a seasoned beer j
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a look at the 30 year history of craft beer in America told through the stories of Goose Island Brewing Company and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The book is divided into two parts: the smaller, independent Goose Island prior to its acquisition by the larger international company, and the larger company’s relationship to craft beer in America.
The book is well-written, well-researched, and tells a pretty good tale of the recent history of American beer through the lens of John and Greg Hall
Jeff Mauch
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
History and craft beer, what more could i ask for from a book? Sure, when I say history, I mean very recent history, but so what. I was sort of shocked by the depth of information that is presented in this work. I consider myself somewhat well versed in craft beer and some of it's history, but I learned a lot here, particularly when it came to the tactics used by Anheuser-Busch. I've always sort of considered them the enemy because they are competing with an industry I'm passionate about, but th ...more
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46 likes · 34 comments
“But no matter how good the beer, how many honors or awards, how innovative Goose Island would ever be again, someone deep in the crowd would always boo.” 1 likes
“American beer drinkers had been conditioned to believe they were choosing Anheuser-Busch's beer, but that was only half true; Anheuser-Busch had left them few other options.” 0 likes
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