Most craft beer fans from Australia and New Zealand will have heard this by now, but, as has been reported widely, industry giant Lion has purchased New Zealand brewery Panhead Custom Ales.

Firstly, congratulations to Panhead. A lot of beer drinkers resent when the big guys buy out the little guys, but really, there’s no problem with it. This situation is happening more and more and, generally speaking, the craft brewery is allowed to keep operating as is. The larger conglomerates just want a cut of the action, so they throw some money into to the pool, allowing the little guys to produce more beers and distribute it more widely. On the surface, this looks like a win-win.

This seems to be echoed in Panhead’s announcement on Facebook (the post is quite long, so we’re only quoting a portion of it):

Perhaps most importantly for you, our fans, is that Mike can give up engineering, accountancy and logistics and concentrate on writing recipes and brewing beer. Beer is what we care about and there’s absolutely no way the stuff you love is going to get blander, dumber, duller or saner. Supercharger, Port Road, Quickchange, The Vandal and Trekken will be as great as they ever were, and new specials will keep rolling out as long as there’s breath in our bodies. With Lion resources behind us we’ll have the grunt to get more beer to you fresher and in better condition than ever, wherever you are.

So let’s see where this goes. While there will be plenty crying foul, it’s important to remember that ultimately these are businesses who need to make money. There are people behind these businesses who love beer and love what they do, but they have families and other interests in life. Running a small brewery is hard work, and getting a bit of help from a larger business is a good thing.

Meanwhile, Lion just needs to sit back and collect profits. Some may say “Oh no, they’re making money off Panhead’s sweat” but that’s how capitalism works. Mike, Duane, and the rest of the team from Panhead Custom Ales didn’t start their brewery to not make money. They wanted to make money doing something they loved. Now they get to do what they love and make a hell of a lot more money doing so. If a cut of that needs to go to an “evil” corporation, so be it. Everybody is winning here, punters included.

So all else put aside, perhaps the most interesting observation on the Panhead buyout comes from Girl + Beer:

And this, friends, is the point exactly about the corporate buyouts. The likes of Lion and Asahi, love them or hate them, are buying great beer brands and allowing them to stay the great beers they are and allowing them maintain proper branding. Meanwhile, Carlton United Breweries just doesn’t get it.

And Wild Yak is pure proof of this. Ale of a Time describes this perfectly. We haven’t written about it before, but yes, the Yak/Matilda Bay brand is confused at best.

Basically, when will CUB learn? Really, who cares, that’s their business and we’re happy that they stay out of it. The big fear is that CUB will see what their rivals are doing, try to get in on the action with an unsuspecting brewery, and then ruin everything as they’ve done before. So CUB, if you’re reading this, keep your head buried in the sand. We here at Brew in Review have no faith in your ability to properly market and sell craft beer.

In summary, good luck to Panhead Custom Ales with their acquisition. We’re faithful that this will be beneficial to punters, and this is what’s important. Who cares who owns the brewery further up the chain, so long as they’re making great beer and being true to themselves. And congratulations to Lion, you’ve nabbed a good one. Keep staying smart and don’t emulate your rival CUB, because we know what happens there.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to speak up below.