And now it's in the hands of fer'ners!
In St. Louis, A-B's headquarters, there are tears and anger. In other towns where Budweiser is brewed, there is fear of lost jobs.
But in Philly, the historic, $52 billion deal was a non-event.
"I'm still going to drink the beer if it's the same product," said Steel. "It's a good beer. It doesn't really matter to me whether it's American-owned."
Across the bar, where Frank Siligrini, 56, and Jeffrey Katzen, 45, hunkered down over bottles of Bud, it was the same story.
"It's OK with me as long as it doesn't affect any jobs," said Katzen, of Northeast Philly.
"I'm still going to drink it - as long as they don't mess up the taste like they did when they changed the recipe with Coke," added Siligrini, of South Philly.
But what about the principle at stake, about the sad, inexorable takeover of landmark American businesses by shadowy overseas investors with suspect DNA?
Two years ago, a nationwide opinion poll by the Pew Research Center reported that 53 percent of Americans are opposed to foreign ownership of U.S. companies. Toss in worry over the crippling trade deficit and illegal immigration, and you'd think Americans would be ready to boot the Belgians back to Brussels.
Not a chance.
"People might bitch about losing another American company," said Jenifer Kelly, 25, of Medford, N.J., who huddled with two friends around a frosty 10-pint tower of Bud Light. "But when it comes down to it, they'll still drink it."
Throughout Chickie's and Pete's, it was the same story: People sucking down their Buds without a thought of giving it up. I ran into only one person, a construction worker named Brian McCusker, who seemed appalled at the deal:
"Selling Anheuser-Busch to the Belgians," he said, "is like selling Bruce Springsteen to the Chinese."
McCusker is Canadian.
Ban the Bev
There are nascent calls for a boycott of InBev products. Good luck with that.
InBev is the product of a massive 2004 merger between Belgian-based Interbrew and AmBev of Brazil. It produces more than 200 brands, including: Beck's, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Brahma, Bass, Boddingtons, Staropramen, Labatt, Franziskaner, Spaten, Murphy's, Tennent's, Belle-Vue and St. Pauli Girl.
In a few years, it'll be hard to find a mainstream beer that isn't made by InBev.
With the acquisition of A-B, the largest American-owned brewer is now Boston Beer, maker of Samuel Adams
Of course, Boston Beer produces only about 1.5 million barrels a year, compared with more than 100 million barrels by A-B.
Between Boston Beer (with a plant in Lehigh County and further production in Latrobe) and Pottsville's Yuengling (the second-largest American-owned brewery), Pennsylvania is now the biggest producer of 100 percent American beer.
CalendarTonight: Full Mooner
beer tasting at Totaro's Restaurant (729 E. Hector St., Conshohocken) featuring flavors from Victory, Southampton, Legacy and Brooklyn Brewing. Choose your favorite and the restaurant will keep it on tap all month. $10. 7-10 p.m.
July 26: Brew at the Zoo. The 5th annual benefit for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation will be held this year at the Philadelphia Zoo, with food, music and beer from more than 20 area breweries. $40. 6 p.m. 888-317-8633. *
"Joe Sixpack" by Don Russell appears weekly in Big Fat Friday. For more on the beer scene in Philly and beyond, visit www.joesixpack.net. Send e-mail to email@example.com.