To take a little rabbit trail here:
These videos were released yesterday, just hours after the Brewer’s Association released their now infamous press release about “Craft vs. Crafty” beer where they define some lines between what is and what is not a craft brewery. A main argument is that large breweries, non-craft, breweries are trying to enter the craft beer market with faux beer products (such as a lime flavored beer that magically fills the room with half-naked women). The article has received lots and lots of attention from beer writers, the majority of it seems good with people saying they are glad that the BA is defining lines and specifically calling attention to many of the products, like Blue Moon, that are passed off as craft beer but should not be called craft beer. Not all the attention is good though.
One major problem I have with this press release is that breweries like AC Golden, Widmer, and Goose Island are now categorized as non-craft brewers. You can’t tell me that. These guys are not making faux beer products. Widmer has recently released a phenomenal series of rotating IPA six packs, they’ve bottled a Gose beer for crying out loud, Goose Island produces one of the best stouts in the entire country, AC Golden just won medals at the World Beer Cup in the Brett category and a medal at GABF for their Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout. Yes, I understand the way the ownership of those companies works. No, I don’t care because these are not faux beers and their advertising is not despicable. As Jeff Alworth aptly concludes that has a consumer, “I reserve the right to make decisions about how I think about beer. I get to call Goose Island and Widmer craft brewers if I wish. I decide whether a company makes good beer, and I get to ignore who the owner is.”
Ultimately the lines that the BA has drawn mean nothing to me and just because they set them does not mean that I’ll stop buying beer from these folks. What is the practical application from this press release? Does the BA want to put Craft Brewer stamps on bottled beer? The same way that products with organic certification receive a logo? Perhaps keeping non-craft-brewers out of the Great American Beer Festival? I’m not entirely sure the point of where they’re heading or how this changes anything for the consumer. I much more appreciate the way Breckenridge handles the situation, to point out the real flaws of the larger brewers through satire.
***Update – I’d like to direct your attention to the first comment on this post (so far the only one). Anonymous brings up a good point, that part of the release talks about a “call for transparency in brand ownership and for information to be clearly presented in a way that allows beer drinkers to make an informed choice about who brewed the beer they are drinking.” This is a point that I over-looked because of the rest of statement and it is valid. I think it would be good to have parent companies portray their identity on their product. How do you do that in a pub though? But I’d still like to emphasize my overall main point, the stickiness of using ‘craft’ as a validation for the better of the two. ***