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"Craft or crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth"

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by Todd, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Bonis

    Bonis Savant (410) Ohio Jul 28, 2010

    I truly hate AB, Miller, Coors etc as much as everyone else, but I don't see an issue here. The consumer has to be smarter than the corporation and figure out what exactly it is that they are buying. A corporation like AB will use any tactic it can to take advantage of the consumer. You can't stop the machine. Plus in the end we all have one common goal, and that is to drink good beer. I prefer to support local, but I'll drink anything if it's good.

    It sucks to say, but here in America most people believe wealth and power are the most important things. AB, Miller, Coors have money, lots of it. They will do things we don't want them to do. The corporations themselves don't care, and neither do 90% of consumers out there that are clueless. I like the idea of this "getting the truth" out there, but let's face it, most people don't care.

    I can only do my part and share the word about good craft beer and home brew to uninformed people. Because lets not forget, any of use can brew our own beer! It's easy!
  2. 451beer

    451beer Aficionado (135) Ohio Jun 21, 2011

    I'm a bit confused on this one. There is mixed post online. Some say that they just made a deal with anehuser to distribute and other claim they were purchased by anehuser. Not sure what to believe.
  3. Bitterbill and Chaz like this.
  4. Kona and GI most certainly can make beers that taste good.

    However, are you aware that you have probably never had a beer that was actually made by Kona unless you've actually visited the brewpub in HI? Their mainland bottles and draft have been brewed at Widmer and Redhook (both the WA & NH facilities). If you're on the HI islands, chances are you still may not have ever had a Kona beer produced by Kona, as all the bottled product and most of the draft product comes from the aforementioned breweries on the mainland and is shipped to HI.

    If you buy a 6pk across the street from the brewery in Kona, it came from the mainland. Would you like to be aware of that? Is it a local beer? No. Is it locally owned? No.

    Now let's take a look at GI. Much of the volume (all?) of their 312 beer (named for the Chicago area code) is brewed at the A-B plant several states away. It says GI 312. If it was brewed at an A-B plant, then it was not brewed at the GI brewery. It is named after the Chicago area code, but it's actually made several states away.

    Would you like these facts disclosed to you on a label? I would.

    Nothing I've said above is intended to make any comment about qualitative issues. Only about disclosure.

    I've said it many many times for many years: I believe the truth should be easy to understand, and not require special knowledge.

    Folks love to comment on whether or not they think that someone else might think that maybe they might or might not care about these details. It does not matter what you think someone else might perhaps think they might think. We can't know. I don't presume to know if people care about these things or not (although I do know that there exist some that do, and some that do not), but I do feel they have a right to have the information clearly conveyed so that they can make their own decision as to whether they care or not. Me, I'm one of the ones that do. And I did LONG before I actually got into the craft brewing business.

    Being in the beer business, and in the food business (we have a large restaurant), I see the inside of the beer and food industries and it's often not pretty. With that inside look, I've been enabled to make business and personal decisions that I feel are right. As strictly a consumer, there's a lot I would have never known about the sources, ingredients, production methods, labor force, ownership, etc. As an insider, I'm now privy to additional information. It's often not pretty, but I'm glad to know it as I don't like my head buried in the sand, either by me, or by someone else that decides for me that I don't need / want to know / care. I like being able to make my own informed decisions, and man it can be crazy hard sometimes to be informed. Anything that removes barriers to knowledge, is good IMO.

    Thanks for the discussion!

    Cheers! -Greg.
  5. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    There is a third option. Stop making crappy adjunct filled light lagers.

    If you dont want to get criticized for making swill, dont make swill.
    jrnyc likes this.
  6. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    The question is, why do their Hefeweizen, Bock, Vienna, Schwarzbier and other German styles plus one-offs COMBINED not exceed sales of Grain Belt?

    Sam Calagione once made a specific decision to NOT be the "60 minute IPA brewing company". Schell's could make the same decision (wrt Grain Belt) if they wanted to.

    I see it as an easy choice for them. Either keep making Grain Belt as a majority of your beer and collect the money for it or cut it down to 45% and be an "official" craft brewer. It seems an easy choice, so they should just stop whining and cash the checks.
  7. bsp77

    bsp77 Savant (490) Minnesota Apr 27, 2008

    That is just stupid. You are implying that having the majority of their sales from Grain Belt is a bad thing, as are the Brewer's Association. That is very judgmental. I may not really like Grain Belt, and you may not either, but tons of Minnesotans do. Who am I to tell them to limit supply of what consumers want?
  8. cmannes

    cmannes Savant (375) Minnesota Mar 15, 2009

    Duh, because those people aren't real customers, they're sheeple! Just following a trend. Bud Light really isn't popular, people don't really like it, no one really drinks it, it's just an illusion that millions of people buy it, and actually seem happy. The truth is that they're blind. And only we here at BA working arm and arm with the Brewer's Association can show them the light. We must force them to realize that NO, they are not having fun. They are NOT happy. We must show them the light. We must bring them into the nirvana of $18 bottles of beer that you must cellar for 5 years before drinking. We must show them the error of their ways, because obviously WE know better.

    Oh and btw.. :) Just kidding.
    JavaNoire likes this.
  9. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    I didnt tell them that. I said it was an easy choice to keep making Grain Belt and cash the checks. But they should stop whining about the results of the choice they made.

    But thinking about it, here is my real point about Schell's. I have some questions that probably only jesskidden can answer accurately, but I think I know them.

    In 1965, when Maytag was saving Anchor, what was Schell brewing? Were they brewing hefeweizens and viennas and etc, or where they brewing Grain Belt (no idea on the history of it, maybe that name came later) and maybe a "bock"?

    in 1985, when craft beer was struggling to gain traction, what was Schell brewing (other than Pete's) under their own name?

    How long have they continuously been making hefeweizen? How about Schwarzbier?

    I have a feeling that if they had been making these continuously since 19dickety2, they would have gotten an exception from the BA and be regularly discussed as a leader in the craft movement, despite Grain Belt.

    But, really, are they any different than ABI and CM? All are traditional 19th century breweries than made almost exclusively 6 row and adjunct light lagers and sometime around the turn of the 21st century they decided to start making some "crafty" beers. Is there any difference between August Schell's company and August Busch's other than size?

    That might be unfair to Schell's, but based on output of beer, Im not sure it is.
  10. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    The BA isnt saying its a bad thing, they are saying it doesnt meet their definition of craft.
  11. bsp77

    bsp77 Savant (490) Minnesota Apr 27, 2008

    They acquired Grain Belt several years ago, as it was a loved brand with poor management. In regard to their craft lineup, they started it in the mid 80s, before the bandwagon started.

    Ultimately, you know nothing about Schell's, so the more you say, the more ignorant you sound. Basically, they are the second oldest family brewery in the country. I never would have considered comparing them to Anheuser.

    Read the link someone posted about Schell's earlier in this thread.
    mschofield likes this.
  12. bsp77

    bsp77 Savant (490) Minnesota Apr 27, 2008

    They are implying it is bad and that these companies are trying to deceive customers with pseudo craft. Maybe the case with Anheuser Busch, but not Schell's, who are more "traditional" than any other craft brewery I know.
    mschofield likes this.
  13. immobilisme

    immobilisme Savant (380) Illinois Nov 8, 2005

    lol at all the people who aren't going to drink BCBS, Sofie, (etc) and Schell's because the "Craft Brewers Association" says the beer is not craft beer.

    Good beer is good beer. The Craft Brewers Association is a trade associating that sets it's own rules to further it's own agenda. Their press releases are not my bible. They are not rulers of my taste buds. It is an absolute joke that Schell's gets called out on their list of basically "beers you shouldn't drink."

    I will drink beer that they call "craft beer" until the day I die and I will probably also drink beer that they don't call "craft beer" until the day I die.

    Everyone has the right to drink what they drink, but I just think it is hilarious that many people here think regular Blue Moon (or any number of "Crafty" beers) drinkers give one shit about who owns the brand that is getting them drunk on a Saturday night.
  14. By the first decade of the "craft era", they brewed one of the first US wheat beers in the modern post-Repeal era - Anchor claims they were the first, but apparently the two breweries coincidentally and - unknown to each other - brewed their first wheat beers on the very same day - so I'd call that a tie. By the mid-80's (before there even was a Pete's for them to contract-brew) they were also brewing an all-malt pilsner, lagered for 3 months - a very rare beer style at the time for any US brewery, microbreweries included. Both their wheat and their pilsner were distributed nationally by Merchant du Vin and being advertised as following the Reinheitsgebot.

    Schell did a lot of contract-brewing for early craft brands - some still around and listed as "craft" by the B.A. - not just Pete's. (I had an incomplete list somewhere of just some of the brands they brewed in the 80's and 90's but can't find it.) In that respect, they were very similar to F. X. Matt, which was one of the early and most used old-line breweries for the early craft contract brewers in the Northeast - they continued to brew their adjunct "heritage" brands, while expanding their own offerings to more "craft" styles AND were the go-to brewery in the region (and beyond) for contractees.

    Unlike Matt, today they don't need to depend on contracts and have a strong local market - in some respects that hurts their rep among the beer geekery (as does being in "fly-over" country, far from the coasts and media centers), since they didn't need to create a new "faux" craft line (like a Saranac or Dundee) or to ship beer coast to coast.
  15. -In 1965, Schell's was one of two breweries in New Ulm, Grain Belt was still brewed in Minneapolis. We were brewing our Deer Brand, our American Lager, and a seasonal Bock beer.
    -In 1985, when craft beer was struggling to gain traction, Schell's already had an established line up of "craft" beers including an all-malt, krausened Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Export, and a Bock.
    -We brewed our Hefeweizen in 1984, and by an incredible coincidence, on the exact same day Anchor Brewing brewed theirs. With the two hour time difference, I believe that makes ours the first wheat beer brewed in American since Prohibition. The Schwarzbier is our latest seasonal beer, but our Vienna Lager came out in 1998, and our Alt Bier in 1992. Excuse me, 19dickety2. We didn't start brewing Grain Belt until 2002. What you don't care to take into account is the fact that we were one of the founding members of the small brewers association, which pre-dates the brewers association, and were on the board of directors of the Brewers Association when they decided to create this definition of a craft brewers. Nothing like getting kicked out of an organization that you helped start.
    -For your last question, let me share a story with you, and then maybe you can tell me if there is a difference between us and ABI and MC. In the late 70's, when we were struggling just to keep the lights on in the brewery. My grandfather, who hadn't taken a pay check for years so he could pay his employees, cut down two 100 year old black walnut trees and sold the wood to keep the brewery running.

    Jace
    JediMatt, dasmusik, JavaNoire and 6 others like this.
  16. Chaz

    Chaz Champion (815) Minnesota Feb 3, 2002

    No disrespect to you, good sir --and by comparison to "JessKidden" I am a certified hack-- but allow me to try out a few chip-shots to bring you up to par:

    1984*: Hefeweizen.
    2012: Fall seasonal Schwarzbier.

    Aside from these dates/styles, the "History" page at the August Schell website is rather breezy, but they have been brewing adjunct-free Snowstorm** releases each fall in time for the Holiday and Winter season since 1992. And no, there's been no use of corn/grits/maize/syrup/hfcs to enhance the flavor in the Snowstorms, for the most part. ;)

    Now, I know that you're no slouch, rlcoffey, when it comes to either your beer hobby or your professional accomplishments. I also know that you can look all of these facts up yourself via link-surfing on your own browser set up.

    But I am a Minnesota local and know a little more background on a lot of this (as do certain others in the Minnesota brewing community, and yes, a -handful- of mere geeks as well). But when you say:

    "Is there any difference between August Schell's company and August Busch's other than size?"
    "That might be unfair to Schell's, but based on output of beer, Im not sure it is."

    It's difficult for me to not take some umbrage.

    At any rate, thanks for allowing me the chance to place some of this into a personal perspective. I've been drinking the various non-Craft beer from August Schell for twenty five years, and I doubt that I'll stop now.

    Cheers!

    * Might be worth noting that it was technically a Kristall-Weizen up until 2001 (or 2002 -- my memory fails me.)
    ** Xmas Brew and later 'Blizzard', until Dairy Queen took issue.
    RKPStogie and bsp77 like this.
  17. bsp77

    bsp77 Savant (490) Minnesota Apr 27, 2008

    Wow, that sucks. Did not know that. The good news about this is that it will likely make your many supporters want to drink your beer even more. Actually, I am now having a Chimney Sweep.

    Thanks to everyone for coming out and giving the actual facts about Schell's. I knew I was right but didn't have the details or dates, so I came across as more rude than I intended.
    Chaz likes this.
  18. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    You managed to get 1 point correct.
    acevenom and Chaz like this.
  19. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    Mostly because we do not ship to 48 states and 7 countries.

    Oh, and you realize that "Grain Belt" is a family of beers and not just one, right?
    MN_Beerticker and Chaz like this.
  20. FatSean

    FatSean Savant (255) Connecticut Jul 4, 2006

    Anyone who would like you to stop seeking information about any subject is suspect.
    JavaNoire likes this.
  21. i see this as much as a problem as eating blt chips with real bacon flavoring and pretzle m&ms with more pretzle taste. Labeling is deceiving and as a consumer i make myself aware of labeling tricks such as these. If your into craft beer you most likely care where you beer comes from and will buy with caution. If you arent into craft beer you will buy a beer and think dam i like this beer or not.
  22. Here's a handy card I carry to help me with the "craft vs crafty" situation when reading beer labels (not sure if it's a Brewers Association publication or not):

    Click on image for larger view​

    [​IMG]
    Chaz, bergbrew and mschofield like this.
  23. Rfunk

    Rfunk Aficionado (125) California Nov 28, 2012

    Um...common knowledge?
  24. 451beer

    451beer Aficionado (135) Ohio Jun 21, 2011

    My bad, I didn't educate my self enough on the topic. Like I said I was confused. I briefly checked it out via google and I did not read all of that article. thanks
  25. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    I looked it up after I posted, they started their Pils in 1984. The 2nd oldest of their regular craft-type beers, according to their website, dates to 1999. I think I got the timing about right.
  26. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Not sure why the first would matter. As long as you ship the hefeweizen and schwarzbier and etc to the same markets as you do the family of Grain Belts, why would it matter if it was 48 states or just Minnesota?

    If I lived in MN, I would be drinking your traditional german-style line of beers, and never touching Grain Belt. My drinking habits wouldnt change if I lived up north (since I once lived in WI, I know this to be true).
  27. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Thanks for the reply. Your website should give more clear date information, when I was looking it up, the only one that was clearly from the timeframe discussed was the Pils. But just to clear up one thing, dickety has a specific meaning, as the Kaiser stole our word for twenty (according to Grampa Simpson).

    I will say that Schell's is more deserving of the exception than Gambrinus, but I still like the BA definition of a craft brewery, but its always going to cause problems for one or two breweries. Thats the problem with strict definitions. Even worse is making crappy exceptions.

    While the hefeweizen story is very cool (and exactly why I specifically ASKED the question, I knew I could be wrong about my assumption), but why werent yall brewing it between 1934 and 1984? Maybe if you had, the also cool tree story wouldnt have been necessary.
  28. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    Regional American Adjunct Lagers are just that, regional.

    Quite frankly, I don't know what your beef is with AALs, and honestly I really don't care. You don't like them. We heard you the first 1000 times on the forum. There are a lot of different beers out there. Go drink them.

    However, learn about a company's history before you start taking swings at it. Then go back and read the press release again. Then read what we wrote. Maybe pick up "Ambitious Brew" and read that, or perhaps reread it.

    I honestly could care less about a craft designation or not. The term, as is becoming increasingly apparent, is meaningless. But don't repeat the revisionist history that adjunct brewing is not traditional. And that, by the way, is why we were excluded-for being non-traditional.

    Our labels state exactly who and where we are. Now go look again at Jesskidden's post above. Tell me which label is deceptive. Looks to me like the Brewer's Assoc has some issues to address regarding truth in labeling with their membership.
    RKPStogie, mschofield and Chaz like this.
  29. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Depends what time scale you define tradition, doesnt it?

    Using adjuncts with 6-row ONLY goes back to the 19th century, brewing bavarian-style beers without adjuncts goes back to 1516.

    Now, if you have followed my posts as clearly as you seem to claim, you will know I think the Reinheitsgebot is bullshit. But it is an older tradition.

    Of course, considering the time frame of lager brewing, their isnt much time frame difference between all-malt lagers and adjunct lagers.

    Look, its clear you dont like the BA's definition of traditional. And it might not match up with the dictionary definition of the word, but industry speak often doesnt (look up what DOLLAR means in the nuke power industry for an extreme example). But Grain Belt and other AALs dont meet that definition. It is what it is. If I had been writing the press release, I would have spent more time on the hefeweizen story and less on defending the tradition of AALs.
  30. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    I'm sure you realize 6-row is indigenous to the US. I'm also sure that you have looked at malt specs for American malt and know how minute the difference is today.

    Did the world begin in 1516? What did they use before then?
  31. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Who knows what all went into the beer before 1516? Isnt that part of the supposed reason for a "purity" law? I understand the history of 6-row and why adjuncts were used, my point is some people might question whether a ~150 year practice really qualifies as traditional. Personally, Im of the "anything done twice is a tradition" position, but clearly the BA isnt.
  32. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    Fair enough. Care to comment on labeling? Because the crux of the BA release was being craft or crafty. Is that an issue for BA members, or is that only for the big brewers (as I've stated, our name and address is on every label)
  33. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    The labeling issue is crap. Im of two opinions on it:

    1. The specific location the beer for this specific beer should be on the label. If you have two breweries (or a contract one in addition to your own) it should be clear where this specific beer came from.

    or

    2. Who the fuck cares? Im not sure I grasp the need for that on the label at all*.

    But either way, what is happening now is crap (on both the craft and non-craft side). I think the ownership issue is more important. But honestly, I dont see the need for it to be on the label*. The internet exists, I know who ABI owns, mostly.

    *politically, Im fairly hardcore libertarian, that might be influencing my decision making process here. :)
  34. A lot of spirited discussion concerning the topics of Schell, traditional, etc.

    I will state a caveat that I have never consumed a Schell beer (it is not distributed to my specific area) but I hope to drink some of their beers someday.

    The August Schell Brewery sounds like a traditional brewery to me (and my line of thinking of what traditional means to American brewed beer). I even specifically made mention of Schell in a recent thread:

    “Hopefully someday a US brewery will make a ‘real’ Classic American Pilsner. There is a part of me that would prefer that that brewery would be a regional brewery (e.g., High Falls (formerly Genesee), Matt, August Schell, etc.). vs. one of the BMC type breweries. In my perfect world either Yuengling or Spoetzl breweries would be perfect candidates to make ‘real’ Classic American Pilsners but I recognize that they wouldn’t do this since it would compete with their ‘fake’ Traditional type lagers (Yuengling Traditional Lager and for Spoetzl: Shiner Blonde/Shiner Bock).”

    I personally would be absolutely thrilled if August Schell brewed a ‘real’ Classic American Pilsner. I suppose I should ‘define’ what mean by a ‘real’ Classic American Pilsner (below is based upon the BJCP style guidelines for a CAP):

    · Grain: 80% 6 row malts, 20% corn
    · Hops:
    o For Bittering: Cluster hops 25-40 IBUs (I prefer 40 IBUs)
    o For Flavor: Medium to high hop flavor from noble hops
    o For Aroma: Medium to high hop aroma from noble hops
    · Lager yeast

    Cheers!
  35. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    Like this?
    Chaz likes this.
  36. Hmm, I guess I would like to try it but it seems to be retired?

    I must confess that I find some of the reviewer’s statements disconcerting:

    “S: Nothing to comment on, which in this situation is good.

    T: Very mild malt, some hops, no alcohol taste though. Perfect if you like BMC and want to get drunk marginally faster.

    D: As drinkable as BMC, as in like water, but better tasting.

    Smell - Light scented malt with grain.

    Taste - Largely the same as the smell. Also somewhat sweet.”

    I suppose I am looking for more like (from the BJCP style guidelines):

    “Overall Impression: A substantial Pilsner that can stand up to the classic European Pilsners, but exhibiting the native American grains and hops available to German brewers who initially brewed it in the USA. Refreshing, but with the underlying malt and hops that stand out when compared to other modern American light lagers. Maize lends a distinctive grainy sweetness.


    In other words, it seems to me that a ‘real’ CAP will be very flavorful vs. “nothing to comment on” or “some hops”.


    Cheers!
  37. bergbrew

    bergbrew Aficionado (245) Minnesota Jan 12, 2004

    Jack, you've been around here long enough to realize that any lager is not going to get rave reviews on BA. I surprised that you are surprised with the reviews.
    acevenom and Chaz like this.
  38. ;) "1924", huh? Not exactly pre-Prohibition - not sure that'll pass Jack's (aka "The CAP-MAN") criteria.

    Great story behind that one. So they normally brewed the cereal beverage base beer to that high an ABV? Did they sell off the alcohol (to be denatured "for industrial use") collected after the dealcoholization? I'd always been led to believe that a lot of the near beers started off as a relatively low ABV (under 3-4%) beer to begin with, especially since before Federal Prohibition/18th Amendment there was Wilson's Wartime Prohibition that limited beer to 2.75%.
    Chaz likes this.
  39. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (480) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    I would think a 96 would qualify.
  40. One of my favorite commercial pilsners is Victory Prima Pils. Lots of other BAs like this beer as well: 92 points.

    It seems to me that well brewed pilsners are indeed well received by BAs.

    I would be willing to bet that a well-made ‘real’ Classic American Pilsner would be well received and appreciated by those same BAs who appreciate Prima Pils.

    Cheers!

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