But, Goose Island's claim that this is a "capital" issue is ... to be frank ... a crock. Or rather, it's only half a crock because, yes, capital plays a part in this, but it's really a distribution/production issue. Goose Island had a problem - through years of focusing on its brewpubs and the Chicago market, it became third fiddle throughout the Midwest to Bells and Great Lakes. There is not much room in the market for two regional breweries and one quasi-regional that removes an entire state from the equation (New Glarus).
So, for Goose Island to grow in the ways that it wanted to, it had to either take on Bells and Great Lakes head-on in a brand war, or it could take what it has in the Midwest and move on to bigger and better markets - namely, the rest of the known universe. This presents two problems for Goose Island: 1) how to distribute beer to the rest of the known universe and 2) how to brew enough beer to meet that demand.
Goose Island could have done what Boston Beer did: go public, release stock for a big equity boost, invest in contract breweries across the United States, hire a bigger sales force, and go on its own. It appeared poised to start doing this through its explorations with brewing at Red Hook to serve the East Coast market. It could have done what New Belgium did and sell more stock to its employees keeping the company private, increase its local capacity, hire a bigger sales force, focus on distribution efficiencies, and go on its own. It could have done what New Glarus did: be content with the Chicago/Illinois market, get a loan from a bank, increase its capacity and be happy being the biggest game in a big pond. However, Goose Island's owner decided "I don't really want to deal with this" and leveraged a current business asset - a partnership with Anheuser-Busch - to meet his goals.
AB/InBev is perfectly placed to solve the production and distribution problems facing Goose Island in its efforts to expand its brand outside of the Midwest. Moreover, this move doesn't dilute Goose Island stock or increase Goose Island's debt load. Indeed, AB/InBev gets a relatively lean company with an expanding brand and portfolio that it can leverage with its own breweries around the country/world to brew 312/Honkers/etc and leave the Chicago brewery to produce the high-end stuff. Moreover, AB/InBev already have distribution and sales networks established throughout the world that is just itching to sell real craft beer.* So, in one easy move, Goose Island expands its capacity and distribution without burdening the company to take that on.
In my own opinion, the real test will be whether AB/InBev can leave well enough alone and let Goose Island make its own production choices. I'm not entirely sure I agree with Andy Crouch (I rarely do); I don't think the acquisition itself indicates that AB/InBev or Miller or Coors are suddenly realizing that others do craft better than they do. I do think it shows that they are open to this possibility, though. It is entirely possible that AB/InBev want to (or at least will) muck-around with the recipes for different markets, turn them fully into a corporate brand that has no distinct identity, and derail efforts to make truly "craft" beer like Goose Island has shown some interest of late in actually doing. This was the downfall of Leinie's vis-a-vis Miller.
However, if AB/InBev can leave Goose Island to do its thing, then I think other breweries will see acquisition as a viable exit strategy to ensure long-term growth of a brand. And, if this can happen, we will start to see a lot (LOT) more investment in craft brewing.
* We'll ignore for the moment that most of these distributors do, indeed, already distribute "real" craft beer - but it doesn't pay nearly as well (including above-table and, ahem, below-table deals) as A-B does.