I would rather drink fizzy water than Budweiser, but this is still an interesting article on how the takeover of Anheuser-Busch by a multinational brewing giant AB InBev, known for its cost-cutting has made the quality of the beer worse. Apparently this is how AB InBev rolls with every beer they acquire. Excerpt:

In the Hallertau region of Germany, small farmers had long made a living growing high-quality hops like Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, an integral component in Budweiser. Budweiser, after all, was originally a Bohemian-style beer, brewed with European ingredients. Hops, a bitter kind of flower, provide the dry smack that rides atop the sugars in a beer. After the 2008 takeover, however, AB InBev said it was cutting its purchases of the Hallertauer hops. “They announced they were no longer going to use the Hallertauer Mittelfrüh variety,” says Johann Pichlmaier, president of the Association of German Hops Growers. “We’ve had to reduce the acreage in the past few years.”

Martin Bauer, a sixth-generation hops farmer in Hüll, isn’t so busy these days. He putters around his barn in a flannel shirt and overalls. He keeps his farm going more to stay busy than for the money, which isn’t what it used to be. Bauer remembers meeting August Busch III, who came to the area once a year with a Mercedes-driving entourage. He fondly recalls how the former Anheuser-Busch CEO paid a high price for Hallertauer Mittelfrüh. He has nothing good to say about AB InBev, which, he laments, is brewing its beer with cheaper, less flavorful hops. “As long as people buy the beer they brew, they won’t go back,” Bauer says. “The Chinese and the South Americans prefer lighter beer anyway.”

Erna Stanglmayr is even more doleful. She says AB InBev is killing small hops farms like the one she’s run with her husband for 35 years. She predicts AB InBev will pay for its penny-pinching. “When you try to save money on hops, your beers will have less taste,” warns Stanglmayr. “Eventually, they will realize customers want quality beer.”

AB InBev now brews Beck’s in the US, not in Germany. Beck’s aficionados say it tastes worse. Sales are plummeting.