Powder Kegs: Calfkiller vs. Budweiser in Brewing Battle



Don Sergio, from Calfkillers Facebook page
  • Don Sergio, from Calfkiller's Facebook page
Online, a battle is brewing between one of the mid-state's favorite new breweries and the mighty King of Beers. Last Friday morning, Calfkiller Brewing Company, a brewery based out of nearby Sparta, Tenn., accused a Middle Tennessee distributing arm of Anheuser-Busch (referred to in the post as "Budweiser of Tennessee") of a litany of strong-arm tactics — chief among them that Budweiser employees “stole” Calfkiller-owned kegs from local pubs such as M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers.

According to a post dated May 4 on Calfkiller's Facebook page, Budweiser's “keg police” began removing Calfkiller kegs from businesses last month, claiming that the kegs were property of Anheuser-Busch and that Calfkiller had obtained them illegally. Calfkiller, however, maintains that the used and refurbished kegs were purchased legally:

Over the years the little guy has purchased used kegs from all across the country. A few examples would be unclaimed freight auctions, breweries that have closed, or keg companies that sell new, used, and refurbished kegs. Anyone can purchase these, and Calfkiller has done it as well. Everything from website sales to store fronts in public with huge signs by the road for everyone to see. LEGIT businesses! So Calfkiller has been using kegs like these from day one.

When Calfkiller owners Don and Dave Sergio attempted to contact Budweiser to sort out the issue, they claim they were “lied to, ignored, and simply not dealt with.” Budweiser, meanwhile, asserts that they have “never sold a keg,” including the decades-old kegs that were allegedly taken from the small brewery's clientele.

In a follow-up, Calfkiller clarified that the repossessed kegs only make up a small amount of their total stock, and that some of those kegs (which were reportedly 20 years old) may have retained some Budweiser branding. This caveat has sparked a debate in the beer-brewing community, questioning Budweiser's property ownership and if the presence of branding is enough reason to repossess old equipment. Furthermore, others have questioned whether the company has the power to remove kegs at all, or if this is more accurately a law enforcement issue.

Budweiser has yet to comment on Calfkiller's claims.

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