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San Diego Craft Brewers Worry Big Beer Wants Market Share

San Diego Craft Brewers Worry Big Boys Want Their Market Share
Local craft brewers are concerned about a bid by the world's largest beer seller to open a brew pub in San Diego's East Village.

News that the world's largest beer maker wants to open a brewpub in Downtown San Diego is fermenting discontent among the local craft brewers.

10 Barrel Brewing Co. is looking to establish a commercial foothold in San Diego's East Village. The city's downtown redevelopment agency approved the company's plans to revamp a building at the corner of 15th and E streets.

The craft-beer outfit was born in Bend, Ore., but it was bought by the world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2014. That has local craft brewers concerned because they are not sure customers will know that.

Kevin Hopkins is the past president of the San Diego Brewers Guild and he hopes the San Diego city council casts a critical eye on the project.

Hopkins wants disclosure about ownership, access to retail shelf space, and he worries about big breweries replacing local brewers.

Vince Vasquez studies the craft-beer industry for the National University System Institute for Policy Research. Mega brewers are trying to cash in on San Diego's craft beer success and Vasquez is not surprised.

"If it's a good product I think a lot of people are interested in trying, drinking the beer and trying something different. And I think that's something that Anheuser Busch is trying to offer with 10 Barrels moving to downtown San Diego," Vasquez said.

The local industry might consider local certification to reinforce the local craft-beer brand, Vasquez said. That would be a way to put a local stamp on local products.

"Find a way to test or verify that a beer is craft brewed. And that's something that's meaningful to a lot of craft beer drinkers and craft enthusiasts here in San Diego," Vasquez said.

Local brewers are cashing in on the region's craft beer success, too. Ballast Point and St. Archer were recently sold to major beer distributors, further clouding the distinction between local craft brews and their big beer counterparts.