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MillerCoors Brewing Big Business Five Years After Merger

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Five years after Miller merged with Coors, we look in at how the joint venture is going.

In just the recent past, Milwaukee has lost some iconic brand names. M&I Bank is no more.  Midwest Airlines became Frontier and then Frontier largely left town.  And just this month, Alterra Coffee became Colectivo.

Five years ago, the merger of Miller and Coors beers into MillerCoors led many to worry that Miller might be another Milwaukee name that would soon be relegated to history books.

But reporter Rich Rovito says so far, that hasn't been the case.

"There were fears that the last remaining old line brewery here in Milwaukee would go the way of Schlitz and Pabst, but it has not and it's actually been somewhat thriving," he says.

Rather, Rovito says they’re still brewing beer – a lot of beer – on Milwaukee’s west side.

"The amount of beer produced here at the Milwaukee campus is about a million barrels higher than it was at the start of the joint venture – a lot of that is because the brewery is brewing Coors-flagged products that were never brewed here before, like Coors Light," he says. "That’s boosted business at the brewery."

That doesn't mean, though, that the combined company isn't facing challenges. Rovito says mainstream brewers have found competition in the growing popularity of craft beer over the last decade.

"Consumers have gained more knowledge about beer and it's almost become like a wine kind of thing, where you go out and experiment with all these different kinds of beers - chocolate oatmeal stout and whatever you got," he says. "That's really cut into sales of mainstream mass-produced beers."

Rich Rovito’s article, “The Brew Crews,” about MillerCoors, is in the August issue of Milwaukee Magazine.