It should come as no surprise that the large beer companies around the world are taking notice of the craft beer revolution, even if it's still a very small percentage of beer sales. The reality is that beer sales around the world are falling but craft beer consumption is actually increasing as is its market share.
With massive economies of scale, the big conglomerates have the ability to try and weather the coming storm. In Ireland, they have traditionally done this by offering free kegs or other items in exchange for adding a line. Mostly, they did this to each other before craft beer became "a thing".
In recent years, we have heard rumours that some of the big 3 drinks companies in Ireland are offering free kegs to replace a craft tap with one of their own. It's something that's a little unfair since the small producers lack the ability to give free kegs away.
A worrying trend that occurred because of this was that publicans that were friendly to each other would call up their mates and say that a certain brewery just gave me a bunch of free kegs to take out that craft beer tap I just got in. Those publicans would then got off and have a craft beer tap put in and wait for one of the big boy reps to show up and see if they get the same deal. It got to the point that some of the craft breweries were refusing to put in single taps in certain areas because they knew it would just be taken out a month later after the publican got his freebies.
All of this just sounds like good business by the big boys. If they can afford to do it then what's the problem? It's difficult for the small breweries but the other way of looking at it is that craft beer has become so popular that they can easily put their lost taps in somewhere that will appreciate it more so it's not the end of the world.
That all seems to have changed in recent months. I'm hearing reports from brewers and some publicans that some of the big drinks companies in Ireland are solely targeting craft beer, all craft beer. They are offering 5 figure sums to pubs serving lots of craft beer to take it all out and replace it with their products and to even agree to keep out the craft for a year. They aren't requesting the same of their larger rivals products for obvious reasons.
In one case, I have even heard of one breweries taps actually being taken away. Since these taps belong to the brewery, that amounts to plain theft.
Reps from some of the big boys have apparently been telling some publicans that it's actually illegal for them to take out their taps if they want to put in something else. This is clearly a pack of lies.
One very prominent Dublin pub known for craft beer was repeatedly offered major deals over the course of 2 years and each time, they turned it down. Recently, they relented and took a deal where the Irish craft taps have been reduced to one or two, down from nearly 20. It's not like the craft beer wasn't selling, the pub was always packed and it was a destination pub for tourists interested in local beer. The annoying thing is that it always had beer from the big boys anyway so consumers could decide which they wanted to drink so now all that's happened is that choice has been taken away from customers and craft beer drinkers will go elsewhere. Since the pub is so prominent, this will not make much difference to them as they will always be busy. It's a win win situation for the pub and the big boys but not for the struggling small Irish breweries.
All of this is hearsay of course because no one will go on the record. They are terrified of retaliation with no means to defend themselves. Does this behaviour sound like something else? There's another word for this sort of behaviour. In fact, there are several that spring to mind.
As far as I'm concerned, your product should sell itself. It shouldn't be forced on people because the marketing budget is there to enable that.