After 30 Years, Chicago's Goose Island Beer Is a Global Brand

April 27, 2018

By Christian Smith

Thirty years after Goose Island Beer Co. founder John Hall started making his craft brews in Chicago, the brewery has grown into an international business, with ambitions for expansion in some of the most sophisticated beer markets in the world.

The company operates seven brewpubs outside of the United States, with taps in China and South Korea, and plans to open pubs in Australia and London next, said Todd Ahsmann, the Goose Island president.

"We have global distribution of our beer, which is a little weird for me," Ahsmann said in an interview Friday with Cheddar.

He got his first taste of the beer industry as a bartender at Goose Island's first brewpub in Chicago. His behind-the-bar education and a childhood friendship with the son of Goose Island's founder, John Hall, led to a job in the company's marketing department, where he worked for a decade.

"When we opened our brewpub 30 years ago there were about 60 breweries in the U.S.," said Ahsmann. "Now there's 6,500 breweries."

His familiarity with the growing industry and Goose Island's brews in particular were the reason the company named him president in 2017. Before that, he was president and general manager of Blue Point Brewing, a Long Island brewery owned by Anheuser-Busch. Goose Island was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2011.

Hall, the Goose Island founder, was inspired to brew his own beer after a sudsy trip to Europe in the 1980s. His brewery grew quickly, eventually becoming one of the most popular craft labels in the country.

With dozens of varieties to choose from, it's hard for Ashmann to pick a favorite.

"People ask me what my favorite beer is, I usually say the one in my hand."

For the full interview, click here.

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