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Shiner Bock Producer Slams Houston’s Karbach Brewing Over Billboard Ads [Updated]

Spoetzl Brewing Company didn’t take kindly to the AB InBev-owned brewery impinging on its territory

Shiner Bock neon sign Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Following the placement of new billboards advertising Karbach Brewing Company in Shiner, Texas, the home of Shiner Bock, the wildly popular beer’s brewer is firing back.

The controversy between Shiner’s decades-old Spoetzl Brewing Company and Karbach Brewing Company in Houston is related to a series of billboards placed in the tiny Texas town by Karbach boasting that there’s a “new Bock in Shiner,” according to the post. Spoetzl is of course the longtime producer of Shiner Bock, one of Texas’s most beloved and enduring beers. Meanwhile, Karbach makes the Crawford Bock, produced in partnership with the Houston Astros.

In response to those billboards, Spoetzl Brewery posted an “open letter” in its newsletter the Shiner Gazette firing back at Karbach, specifically as it relates to the brewery’s owner, Anheuser-Busch InBev. The massive beer conglomerate purchased Karbach from its independent owners in 2016 for an undisclosed sum. “This is a huge company with deep pockets seeking to force its way into our town,” the letter reads. “It is not the first time they have tried to imitate our iconic Shiner Bock—A-B’s Ziegenbock and Michelob AmberBock have been around for years.”

In response, a representative for Karbach Brewing tells Eater that the billboards were actually placed by Del Papa Distributing Company to promote the Shiner Music Festival, which took place on October 19. The brand also provided a photo of the billboard that features the Crawford Bock can, but doesn’t really seem to take a direct shot at the Shiner brewery.

Scope out the billboard below:

Shiner Music Festival billboard Courtesy Karbach Brewing

In a statement provided to Eater on Friday, Karbach brand manager David Graham explains how the brewery got involved with the festival in the first place. “When we got the call from Del Papa Distributing in Shiner asking us to help them support the Lion’s Club Shiner Music Fest, the partnership was an easy ‘yes’ from us,” Graham said. “Shiner Music Fest not only has a rich history in the area — it’s also important to our community — and we’re honored to do our part.”

The letter also claims that A-B InBev has moved the production of Karbach beers from the “formerly craft Karbach brewery” to its “large, low-cost A-B plant in Houston.” When the acquisition happened in 2016, it wasn’t without controversy — a number of Houston beer enthusiasts were furious at the brewery for “selling out” to a company that’s been accused of squeezing out craft brewers. Montrose beer bar the Hay Merchant sold off its stock of the beers at bargain-basement prices after owner Kevin Floyd resisted his initial impulse to “dump it all.”

Toward the end of the letter, Spoetzl Brewing issued a clear, deeply Texan challenge to Karbach: “We are proud of our beer, proud of our independence, proud of our heritage, proud of our authenticity, and proud to be in Shiner, Texas,” the letter continues. “To the drinkers who love Shiner, we say ‘cheers’ and to the giant breweries, as our friends down the road once said, ‘come and take it.’”

Your move, Karbach.

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