"Craft vs. Crafty"

Do you care to know who produces/markets your beer?

  • Yes, I want to know.

    Votes: 12 57.1%
  • No, I just care if I like it.

    Votes: 9 42.9%

  • Total voters
    21

EvanPC

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2010
Messages
1,398
Reaction score
1,048
Interesting read. Actually somewhat surprised it took this long for some kind of formal action by craft brewers to take place.

What qualifies as craft beer?

Source: USA Today
David Young
January 13, 2013

Small brewers say it's crafty of their bigger brethren to market some labels as "craft" beer.

There was a time when it was clear who made a beer. The name on the label matched the company of its origin.

However, with the recent rise in craft breweries, the associations have become blurred.

To diversify, large macrobrewing companies, such as Anheuser-Bush InBev, have created offshoot brands resembling craft beers, such as A-B's Shock Top, and are buying out craft beer companies, such as A-B's purchase of Chicago-based Goose Island.

Now, craft brewers are speaking out about this practice. The Brewers Association, whose mission is to promote and protect small, independent American brewers, issued a statement titled "Craft vs. Crafty" to try to set the record straight on what the definition of "craft" is.

Behind the label

An American craft brewer, defined by the Brewers Association, has an annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less, and no more than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not a craft brewer. That definition has drawn a hard "us vs. them" line, as both craft and macrobrewers trade barbs.

Craft beer, under those terms, has seen a steady increase in sales in recent years.

In 2011, craft brewers noted a 13% increase by volume, according to the Brewers Association, and in the first half of 2012, volume grew by an additional 12%. At the same time, the overall beer industry was down 1.3% by volume; domestic non-craft was down 5 million barrels in 2011, according to the Brewers Association.

During that time, more craft breweries have been bought out by macrobrewers. If a large brewer has a controlling share of a smaller producing brewery, the brewer is, by definition, not craft, according to the association. The group deems products produced by such breweries as "crafty" beers because they're not labeled as products of large breweries.

Because beers such as Blue Moon Belgian Wheat or Shock Top are not clearly labeled as made by SABMiller or A-B, respectively, the Brewers Association says many drinkers are fooled into thinking they're drinking a craft product.

"The large, multinational brewers appear to be deliberately attempting to blur the lines between their crafty, craft-like beers and true craft beers from today's small and independent brewers," according to a Brewers Association release. "We 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."

Julia Herz, Brewers Association craft beer program director, said the statement came in reaction to increased media coverage of craft beer.

Herz said the Brewers Association does not define craft beer - it leaves that to the market - but it does define what a craft brewer is, and that definition was created in 2005.

"The point we bring up is to not to blur the lines in the marketplace, to stay true to bring up what is in the bottle," she said. "No one should tell beer lovers what to drink. They need to educate themselves and go forth, conquer and enjoy."

Both A-B and Miller are members of the Brewers Association. Both are classified as non-voting members, due to their size.

Brewers' response

While Anheuser-Busch Fort Collins brewery General Manager Kevin Fahrenkrog didn't directly address the Brewers Association's allegation that A-B is blurring beer lines, he said in an e-mail that the facility brews Shock Top and selected Goose Island brands.

"The growth of beer styles has given rise to hundreds of small brewers and earned our Shock Top, Goose Island and other brands a place in this growing segment," he said. "Each of our beers has its own identity, but each receives our care and craftsmanship to assure its quality maintains the trust of our consumers."

Around the same time that the Brewers Association released its statement, Steve Hindy, co-founder, president and chairman of The Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, N.Y., wrote an opinion piece on CNN.com on Dec. 12 stating that the purchase of Mexico's Modelo beer brands by A-B is the equivalent of forming a beer "duopoly."

"Ultimately, with limited choices, the beer consumer loses," wrote Hindy, who noted that if the Modelo deal goes through, Miller and A-B would control more than 80% of the U.S. beer market.

The fear among small brewers is they will be edged out for shelf and tap space by the big brewers. Craft brewers struggle to get the attention of distributors, Hindy noted.

Shortly afterward, MillerCoors CEO Tom Long fired back with his own CNN.com opinion piece, in which he claimed, definitions aside, to brew some of the most popular craft beers in the marketplace. Long asked readers not to confuse the style of a beer with the quality of the beer, defending brands such as Blue Moon and noting that it introduces many to the craft beer scene.

Launched in 1995, Blue Moon went on to become the best-selling craft beer in the country, Long wrote.

"We know that no matter what style of beer it is, we will ultimately be judged by the quality of our beers. We like that, because we are confident that the quality of our beers stacks up well versus that of any brewer of any size, anywhere," Long wrote in his CNN column.

New Belgium Brewing is the third-largest craft brewery in the country, and spokesman Bryan Simpson said the company aligns with the Brewers Association in calling for transparency. Simpson said one of the greatest assets of a craft brewer is its story and ability to connect with a community in which its beers are made. The call to clearly label who makes beers is a call to level the playing field, he said. "I think there will always be a fight for shelf space, share of mind and stomach," he said. "As long as everyone is in agreement in terms of what tools are used, the consumer benefits."

But does the public care? James Francis, director of the Beverage Business Institute, which has ties to both big breweries and craft breweries, is not convinced.

"I think a small percentage, who would be craft beer snobs, would really care about it," Francis said. "Otherwise, I think they are more concerned about what is in the bottle and whether or not they like it."

Francis said today's generation of beer drinkers tends to favor several beers, as opposed to the former, which had one or two go-to beers.
 

Shred Astaire

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
11,591
Reaction score
27,232
I have always disliked the term "Craft" beer...

I buy beer from local companies who produce great beers...stuff thats actually tasty.

I never buy the corporate beers. They make beer at the lowest common denominator to get maximum market share.

If you can't tell the difference between a "craft beer" and a corporate, mass produced beer, you might as well stick with Bud as its cheaper!! :)
 

SteveGangi

V.I.P. Member
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
36,915
Reaction score
74,524
I buy beer from local companies who produce great beers...stuff thats actually tasty.

I never buy the corporate beers. They make beer at the lowest common denominator to get maximum market share.

If you can't tell the difference between a "craft beer" and a corporate, mass produced beer, you might as well stick with Bud as its cheaper!! :)

:applause: :applause: :applause:

Or, as the Hobgoblin slogan says ...

"What's the matter lager boy. afraid you might taste something?" :D
 

Hack

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2010
Messages
16,363
Reaction score
44,635
I dont care if they pour it over the sweaty balls of a thousand bulls. If I like it I drink it.
 

bertzie

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2010
Messages
19,423
Reaction score
24,556
If people are being tricked into thinking corporate beer is craft beer, is there really much of a difference?
 

Shred Astaire

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
11,591
Reaction score
27,232
If people are being tricked into thinking corporate beer is craft beer, is there really much of a difference?

These are people who don't TASTE their beer...they just drink it. There is a BIG difference in flavor...
 

bertzie

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2010
Messages
19,423
Reaction score
24,556
These are people who don't TASTE their beer...they just drink it. There is a BIG difference in flavor...

Define "big" difference. Are we talking Coke vs Pepsi difference, or Coke vs gasoline and horse piss difference?
 

Shred Astaire

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
11,591
Reaction score
27,232
The latter, as it relates to my taste buds...like anything though, not everyone has the same palette.

And to me, Coke and Pepsi are quite different...same basics but end result is different. Mind you, I don't drink pop/soda anymore so it's been a while.
 

bertzie

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2010
Messages
19,423
Reaction score
24,556
The difference between Coke and Pepsi is pretty subtle. Coke is sweeter with slightly higher carbonation, pepsi is more subdued in front but carries a distinctive back taste.

As for beer, I can't drink the stuff. the smell alone makes me want to hurl.
 

Shred Astaire

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
11,591
Reaction score
27,232
Yes i agree its subtle but its there if you're paying attention and you have had enough of both to know.

I "grew up" drinking standard corporate beer...Molson Canadian, Molson Dry, Labatt Blue etc etc....

I don't drink it anymore because I started drinking more local brews....mostly Ales (which the corporate brewers don't tend to do much of - its all Lager with them).

Beer ain't for everyone...but the flavors in beer are just as complex and varied as in wine.

I will pay extra for quality...and i REALLY like quality beer. :)
 

cynic79

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2009
Messages
5,355
Reaction score
2,182
It's more like the difference between a McDonald's burger and one made at a restaurant. There is an obvious quality difference, but they're both burgers.

Blue Moon and Shock Top were never really terribly complex beers to begin with. They're fine in a pinch, but not a patch on most craft offerings.
 

RedSkwirrell

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
9,893
Reaction score
13,868
I voted 'Yes'.
But I'm English, where we get to drink proper beer!

theakston-old-peculier.jpg








tumblr_lyv58w4e8G1qb5zy2-1.gif
 

River

Senior Member
Joined
May 19, 2008
Messages
57,237
Reaction score
91,382
These are people who don't TASTE their beer...they just drink it. There is a BIG difference in flavor...
When a craft brewer sells out (which I imagine most of them want to, even if they won't admit it), isn't it at least possible that the integrity of the recipe is maintained by the purchaser, and the beer still good?

I'm no fan of conglomerates, but beer-tasting is not dissimilar to wine-tasting, which is not dissimilar to guitar tone tests. People are tasting conglomerates in their beer with their eyes and attitudes.
 

Shred Astaire

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
Messages
11,591
Reaction score
27,232
When a craft brewer sells out (which I imagine most of them want to, even if they won't admit it), isn't it at least possible that the integrity of the recipe is maintained by the purchaser, and the beer still good?

Oh yes...possible...not probable...the big boys would have to change their production line in many cases to keep the process the same. They would also need to make smaller batches. I'm not sure most of those guys are willing to do that.

I have not encountered one where that has been the case as far as my tastebuds are concerned.

Now let me add here...i don't give a damn what anyone else drinks. I am concerned with my own tastebuds.
 

MineGoesTo11

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2010
Messages
14,384
Reaction score
19,309
Not everyone cares about taste, as opposed to fitting beer into the food budget.
 

Paracelsian

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2012
Messages
2,783
Reaction score
4,071
+1000 on everything Shred has posted. Especially mass lager being swill. BMC beers are produced with adjuncts, like corn and rice. Its shvt, and TBH I've never had a lager thats worth its weight in piss. And yes, I've had a million German beers, the "real" lager. Absolute piss, its good for cattle and pigs though, makes pork real tasty.
My go to/staple beer is Dales Pale. Its brewed by Oskar Blues in Longmont, Co., the originals and catalyst for the canning apocalypse. But its distributed by Coors (not brewed by them, just distributed). Makes it nice because I can get it about anywhere. And, their restaurant is awesome lol, sunday mornings is blues and brews, and they have amazing local players doing jam sessions while you tank down some killer shvt. Deviant Dales drafts, absolutely ridiculous with a plate of smoked brisket.
 

cynic79

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2009
Messages
5,355
Reaction score
2,182
When a craft brewer sells out (which I imagine most of them want to, even if they won't admit it), isn't it at least possible that the integrity of the recipe is maintained by the purchaser, and the beer still good?

I'm no fan of conglomerates, but beer-tasting is not dissimilar to wine-tasting, which is not dissimilar to guitar tone tests. People are tasting conglomerates in their beer with their eyes and attitudes.

While I generally prefer craft beers, I will admit that I really liked the Budweiser American Ale during it's relatively short lifespan. Big flavor for little cash.

On the wine tasting front, I had the opportunity to drop a fair bit of coin on a lot of relatively expensive wine a few years back. My palette isn't terribly developed, but I did find that I could tell a difference between the expensive wines and the cheaper ones I generally favored. I would actually compare it to the difference between a nice Epiphone Les Paul and a Gibson: noticeable to those looking for a difference, but nearly negligible in the context of a song (or a meal).
 

Latest Threads



Top