Tribune columnist John Kass likes to call the Rev. Jesse Jackson the "King of Beers" because of the way he helped two of his sons get lucrative Budweiser distributorship on the North SIde a few years ago, and likes to tag U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. as (D-Budweiser) or (D-Bud Light).
But it's really Yusef Jackson who is the family's Bud Man - and a Crain's article out this week says he may not be doing all that great a job.
"Ten years after Anheuser-Busch Cos. conferred the franchise on the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.'s youngest son, Chicago remains the largest market where Budweiser is not the best-selling beer," Crain's reports. "[H]is primary business as Budweiser's exclusive distributor in a rich downtown Chicago beer territory gained little ground on market leader."
Now, there could be all sorts of reasons for that aside from Yusef Jackson's performance. Who knows why Chicagoans prefer the High Life. Maybe North Side Cubs fans just can't stand the thought of drinking beer brewed in St. Louis by the longtime owner of the Cardinals.
Crain's, though, says that if Jackson "doesn't pick up the pace, he could face pressure to sell" his line.
Anheuser Busch is "studying the idea of consolidating its network of independent U.S. beer distributors, perhaps by owning many more distributors itself," the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
The beer distribution business is something of a no-brainer.
"Distributing beer - particularly Anheuser-Busch beer - is known in the industry as a license to print money," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes. "That’s because of the stability of beer sales and the protective cover of state franchise laws.
“I haven’t met a poor wholesaler yet,” said David "Bump" Williams, a veteran beer industry analyst, told the P-D. “I don’t think they exist."
At the same time, both the city and state have given Miller a boost; a few weeks ago MillerCoors opened its new $21.8 million headquarters in Chicago, backed by a $6 million city subsidy and $18 million state subsidy.
The headquarters will include most senior Miller executives - and they're going to want to see their product well-distributed around town.
Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review named after a bar that serves both Budweiser and Miller products. He rarely drinks Budweiser, preferring Miller's High Life and even Lite to the Bud portfolio.