Bob Pease: The Watchdog
It's not often a beer geek gets pulled in front of Congress to testify. But last year Bob Pease, CEO of the Brewers Association, did just that. As head of the Brewers Association, which represents thousands of independent breweries around the country, he appeared before a Senate judiciary committee to make a case against a potential $107 billion megadeal between the industry's two behemoths, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller. If the merger went through, Pease argued, one company would control more than 70 percent of U.S. beer sales. Sure, there are now a staggering 4,600 craft breweries in the U.S., but they represent only a 12 percent market share. "You go to a football stadium or a ballpark and you see 10 beers on tap, and it looks like a great selection," he says. "But really all those beers are owned by one company. Most beer drinkers don't know that." So to ensure the corporate powerhouses don't drown out the little guys with strong-arm business tactics — AB InBev is also the country's largest beer distributor — Pease and the Brewers Association hired its first-ever D.C. lobbyist in 2015 (thus his appearance before Congress). Pease, the David in this Goliath fight, basically fell into his role as craft champion. After earning a poli-sci degree, he started his career in the customer service wing of the Brewers Association in 1993. He slowly worked his way up, soaking in the craft gospel. Now he's tasked with serving as an industry watchdog for issues like this merger, which he says will make it harder for independent brewers to get their beer in front of consumers. "We're going to do everything we can to fight against that," he says. "Goose Island [owned by InBev] is a great beer, but you can't tell me that's what everybody in the country wants to drink."