Author Topic: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth  (Read 9184 times)

Offline Crispy275

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Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« on: December 13, 2012, 07:57:18 AM »
An editorial in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/craft-or-crafty-consumers-deserve-to-know-the-truth/article_e34ce949-d34a-5b0f-ba92-9e6db5a3ed99.html) states that if you think craft breweries are a good force in America, then take the time to familiarize yourself with who is brewing the beer you are drinking and support them.

 “It makes a difference. By supporting small and independent craft brewers across the country, we are giving them a chance to thrive in business, create more jobs, boost the economy and compete against the massive corporations that have controlled the market for so long.”

Just two international conglomerates (SAB Miller – London, and A-B InBev - Belgium), control most of the 2nd tier of beer distribution. AB InBev is attempting to expand its reach with a deal that could result in 80% of all U.S. beer distributors being controlled in one fashion or another by these two.

As homebrewers, it may not seem intuitive that we have any “skin in the game”, and perhaps we don’t in the same context of the 2,100+ craft brewers in the US. But as the pipeline for future craft brewers, and as some of the most passionate Evang-ALE-ists, we can and should be concerned about the issues presented in this piece, and we should definitely consider how we support our brethren who wear rubber boots!

If you agree with this sentiment, please read the article and chime in with support. Share it via Facebook, Twitter and amongst your friends and others who you believe this message resonates with.  Make an extra effort this holiday season to visit one of your local, small, traditional and independent craft brewers. Support them and share instagram photos drinking a true indie craft beer. Demand indie craft beer choices at the stores and restaurants you frequent.

I believe that this matters to homebrewers, beer enthusiasts, and to the long term health and diversity of craft brewers here in the US.
Chris P. Frey, aka "Crispy"
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
Fermental Order of Renaissance Draughtsmen
AHA Governing Committee (2004 - present, Past Chairman 2009-2012)
Brewers Association Board of Directors (2010 - present)
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Offline ultravista

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 08:13:45 AM »
An interesting read. I didn't realize that Kona was absorbed by the beer borg.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 09:09:01 AM »
I get it.  I get the distinction and why the BA wants to make the distinction.

But I have a conceptual hard time with saying that Goose Island beers are not true craft beers.  "Faux-craft" seems unnecessarily derisive.  I've been going there since the first opened the brew pub and they make some truly great beers.

Maybe I'm clinging to nostalgia, because I know they've been bought, I know that a lot of their beers are brewed elsewhere, I know that some of the long-time brewers are jumping ship and branching out on their own, but I still think that they make some great craft beers (Matlida, Pere Jacques, their Bourbon County stuff).

I can see calling Blue Moon and Shock Top "faux-craft" but at least until I see/taste a significant change in the beers at Goose Island I don't think that label fits.

With all that said, I'm still more likely to buy some Bell's or North Coast than I am Goose Island, so I'm on board with the overall concept.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 09:24:10 AM »
I'm waiting for the quality of Goose Island to tank, but as long as the beer remains high-quality I don't really care who owns them.

I've been waiting for the quality of Scharffen Berger chocolate to take a nosedive since Hershey took them over, but nothing yet (IMO). Sometimes a major conglomerate knows to leave well enough alone (at least for a while), so I just take it as a sign to be cautious for dips in quality and not the immediate end.
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Offline BrewingRover

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 09:27:45 AM »
I'm less concerned with the faux-craft labeling than the fact that the big boys control so much of the distribution network. That's really where they can kill off the smaller guys.
It's such a fine line between stupid and clever.

Offline wactuary

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2012, 09:28:27 AM »
While I agree with the sentiment, I do not understand the barrels per year as a "definition" of craft, so I have trouble crossing a beer from the craft credential because that brew is owned by someone who brews "too much".  BA can choose to define it as they wish, but if Sam or Sierra exceed those limits while maintaining their quality and corporate philosophy as they have so far, I don't get it.

I've seen beer wars. I understand the influence of the mega brewers and their potential to undercut and push out the local guy. I agree. But maybe the term "craft brew" has outlived it's usefulness and a new label is in order. "small batch?"  "independent?". It may be that we are drifting to choosing brand on political and philosophical views and not on taste, ingredients or quality.

I personally never thought the "crafty" beers met the taste/quality standard of the real "craft" choices, buy with Kona or Goose Island, or Ommegang, who "sold out" to the foreign Duvel conglomerate, the line really is blurry.

Just my two cents.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2012, 09:34:06 AM »
I'm less concerned with the faux-craft labeling than the fact that the big boys control so much of the distribution network. That's really where they can kill off the smaller guys.

They own the production, though, not the distribution.  Owning so much of the production gives them a lot of weight with the distributors, I'm sure, but the distribution laws and three tier system are a whole different subject that has an impact on the retail availability of craft beers.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2012, 09:46:57 AM »
A friend was just telling me about AB's "Project 12" lineup.  He enjoyed one of the beers thought I'd be interested.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wouldn't touch it because of the fake craft beer thing.  I suppose I should let him know though.  One of the beers was supposed to have a little oak in it, that was the only one that was even mildly interesting.

I look forward to going back to the good ol' days model of having a brewpub or two in every town.  I don't buy a lot of packaged beer anyway just because I make so much of my own.  When I look on the shelves at a good liquor store, it amazes how many breweries are pumping out bottled beer.  I don't see how any of them makes a buck really.
Lennie
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Offline gsandel

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2012, 10:11:28 AM »
Being originally from Detroit (the son of a son of a son of autoworkers), it does matter to me where my products are made, by whom, and who owns the company.  I also care about who I do business with.  My beer, if not made in my basement, is usally from less than 50 miles from my house, often by people I know personnaly.  When I buy packaged beer, it comes from my local bottle shop who take the time to talk to me about what I like and want, and are knowledgable about the items in their coolers.

Do I pay more? Perhaps sometimes, but I also get fantastic service and occasional discounts.  I also bring my friends around and it works to everyone's benefit.

I also don't have a problem with globalization, consolidation, and industrial manufacturing, and profit when it doesn't come at the expense of the quality, the consumer, or the workers.  I also worry that they will put a crimp on the ingredient supply chain....which both small craft brewers as well as homebrewers rely on.  Imagine not being able to get the hops or specialty malts to brew fantastic beer.....the horror!
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2012, 10:27:54 AM »
The barrel limit is a thoroughly flawed concept by which to gauge a craft brew.  With continuing market penetration, there will be plenty of breweries that exceed that threshold in the near future.  I think that BA just boosted the output barrel limits so that some of the current BA members could still be called craft. 

And the thing is that a large market share is exactly what we craft beer drinkers would like to see in the future.  More folks interested in drinking beer with flavor!  That could mean better beer in more places. 

I have a big problem with the contention that a craft beer sellout that is bought by a brewing conglomerate suddenly is no longer a 'craft brewer'.  I contend that the definition of a craft brewer is one that produces beer that has flavor.  Several of the examples cited in that article are imitation beers with dumbed down flavor...Shock Top, Blue Moon, etc.  Those are beers that are 'crafty' and not craft.   Considering that these conglomerates probably have access to the finest equipment, materials, and staff, they could make the finest beers in the world.  But that is not what the market currently wants.  The masses want dumbed down beer.  The majority wants the mere essence of malt and a glimmer of hops, all delivered in a brilliant golden liquid with foam on top. 

Clearly, our craft brewing industry does need promotion and protection since the mega brewers could dominate that segment instantly if they so choose.  So I appreciate the move by BA to promote and distinguish the craft beer industry from the mega brewers.  BA should probably be a little more exacting in their promotion of the little guys without stepping on the big boys toes.
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Offline gsandel

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2012, 10:31:46 AM »
BA should probably be a little more exacting in their promotion of the little guys without stepping on the big boys toes

Nicely put, I would agree.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 10:33:48 AM by dbeechum »
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Offline dunleav1

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2012, 10:48:35 AM »
How can Goose Island not considered to be craft beer? It was okay to drink Goose Island 3 years ago, but not now based on who owns them? Please stop.

I disagree with the AHA decision to picture small adjunct brewers in a negative light.
So companies that make beer styles other than American Lager are not craft beer? Straub is a small Pennsylvania brewery that I'm sure struggles to survive.

I understand the attempt, but the AHA needs to "craft" a better message than this...

Offline alcaponejunior

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2012, 10:55:54 AM »
While there might be a few flawed concepts in the article, I overall agree with the premise.  I do try to buy small brewery and local offerings as much as I can.  I also try to avoid most offerings that I know are inbev or sabmiller etc (tho that's not hard to do most of the time).  The bottom line is that I want small craft breweries to succeed, thus, I will buy their beers and hope that my modest contribution helps a little.  I will of course promote and share the best of them too. 

if this is straight up true...

Quote
The large brewers employ 25,000 people in their stateside brewing facilities and, undoubtedly, in cities like Milwaukee, Denver and St. Louis, these jobs are important to the local economies. But across the entire U.S., small and independent craft brewers employ more than 103,500 Americans in local, Main Street jobs.

...then it's even more reason to support your local brewery, something I think a lot of us on these beer forums already do anyway.  I suspect the language used by the author was a bit "emotive," but the sentiment would still hold provided the statistic is valid. 

Offline weithman5

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2012, 11:08:06 AM »
I'm waiting for the quality of Goose Island to tank, but as long as the beer remains high-quality I don't really care who owns them.

I've been waiting for the quality of Scharffen Berger chocolate to take a nosedive since Hershey took them over, but nothing yet (IMO). Sometimes a major conglomerate knows to leave well enough alone (at least for a while), so I just take it as a sign to be cautious for dips in quality and not the immediate end.

 I really only drink a few of their beers, and primarily use the 312 to make my own shandy.  I doubt the quality dips much though, because the brewers at AB do put out quality products, just not of the styles many of us enjoy..  I still enjoy budweiser, it is just i have this problem with them having been sold to the belgians.....

Don AHA member

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Craft versus crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2012, 11:39:04 AM »
[...] 

if this is straight up true...

Quote
The large brewers employ 25,000 people in their stateside brewing facilities and, undoubtedly, in cities like Milwaukee, Denver and St. Louis, these jobs are important to the local economies. But across the entire U.S., small and independent craft brewers employ more than 103,500 Americans in local, Main Street jobs.

...then it's even more reason to support your local brewery, something I think a lot of us on these beer forums already do anyway.  I suspect the language used by the author was a bit "emotive," but the sentiment would still hold provided the statistic is valid.

I was just going to post that quote.

Just ruff back of apkin math, if the 75% of the beer market in america that is controlled by the big guys were in the hands of small indie brewers that would mean around 725,000 new jobs! that's huge!
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