Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Will beer lovers run from the giant brewery mothership?

The mega-merger of AB-InBev and SABMiller could make some consumers flee for the hills in search of micro-brews.

That’s the prediction of Schlafly CEO James Pendegraft who says many beer lovers, especially millennials, don’t think bigger is better. “I think they struggle with the idea of being marketed to en masse,” Pendegraft said, “I think they struggle with the the old concept of marketing that has made a lot of these bigger brands very successful,” he says.

Sitting in the dining room of the Schlafly Tap Room downtown, Pendegraft predicted that consumers will drift away from Big Beer in even larger numbers, seeking brands that tout fresher ingredients.schlafly beer Big Beer Merger May Help Micro Brewers

“Our shelf-life is very short, and the mega-brewers have designed products to travel very far and be on the shelf a very long time,” Pendegraft says.

Pendegraft says younger consumers are also interested in supporting smaller breweries connected to the local economy.

“Our bottle, for example, we choose to make it in Pevely, Missouri,” Pendegraft said, “and we’re very proud of that, as opposed to going to Asia, which would be very easy to do, and we’d save a lot of money. We source our labels from Chesterfield, Missouri.”

But big breweries are fighting back, touting their own fresh ingredients, and award-winning beers with born-on dates. The large breweries are also buying up some craft beer labels to make them their own.

The trend has led to a curious debate among beer drinkers; is a craft beer still a craft beer if it’s owned by a mega parent company?

But for all the gains of small breweries, big brewers still sell most of the beer, employing tens of thousands of workers and giving back to the community through charitable contributions. Larger breweries can also boast their prices are less expensive.

But for consumers used to paying $5 for a cup of Starbucks coffee, saving fifty cents on a bottle of beer may not be the issue.

And the industry is aware that public taste can change everything.

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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