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

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

  1. Lack of transparency in beer labeling is a non-issue. If a beer drinker cares who brews the beer they drink, they will find out. All one requires is the internet and Google or a knowledgeable beer store employee. People simply don't care.

    The growing concern ought to be focused on the quasi-monopolistic nature of the American beer industry. 2700 breweries make up roughly 6% of the market share? This is not a true representation of the free market at work. Let's work on eliminating favorable legislation for the big brewers (keep dreaming...I know) and the archaic franchise laws and three-tier system which holds microbreweries back.

    Transparency in beer labeling is a distraction.
    Kyrojack and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  2. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Speaking of them, Berghoff Dark may single-handedly be responsible for me being a beer drinker.

    While it wasnt the first beer I enjoyed (that occurred while I lived in Switzerland in the early 90s), when I moved back to the US and on to Madison, it was the first beer I had regular access to that I regularly enjoyed.

    I think I last had some about a decade ago and I found it "meh" at best, but I will always think fondly of it, even if I have moved on.
    geocool likes this.
  3. I can't imagine that making the information so much more easily obtained could possibly hurt. Not everyone has the time or technology to run an internet search on every item while in the store, and "knowledgeable beer store employees" aren't super common or necessarily free of pressure from their suppliers themselves.


    OK, then let's get it passed quickly so we can get back to solving the "real" problem.
    Ford likes this.
  4. Again, the information is out there. It only seems "hidden" to the lazy or the people who simply don't care. If the one or two people who go in to a store to buy "craft" beer suddenly have an epiphany and want to know who actually brews it and are without a smart phone, they can easily ask a store clerk.

    I'll agree to the notion that having this information on the packaging is beneficial. But the accusation in the OP article suggests that this lack of information for consumers hurts craft breweries. I just don't think the evidence is there. However, there is plenty of evidence that points to government intervention in the marketplace as the actual culprit for propping up big business and hurting the smaller breweries.
  5. Their porter is actually pretty good, for the price and availability that is.
    Beerandraiderfan likes this.
  6. I wish I lived near the stores where you shop, where the clerks are all knowledgeable and advise their customers to not buy the products of their biggest suppliers. For many consumers it's not that they're lazy or don't care, it's about knowing that there even is an issue, that there is a group who thinks they should care. That's why it's called an awareness campaign.
    beastmammoth and Ford like this.
  7. omnigrits

    omnigrits Savant (345) Texas Jun 1, 2006

    This is something that seems to have been largely overlooked in this discussion. There is, I suspect, a large number of people who, whether or not they're inclined to even give it a second thought, aren't concerned that their Blue Moon is made by Coors or Shock Top by ABI. Even if they knew about it they'd have no problems buying beer made by a megabrewer because the politics of what they buy is a non-issue for them (hands up how many BAs here who don't buy BMC for reasons of politics go to Wal Mart?) or perhaps because they used to drink a BMC beer anyway, and perhaps still do when they don't drink Blue Moon. The number of people who would stop buying beers like Shock Top and Blue Moon if they knew who made them may well be a lot smaller than the Brewers Association thinks.

    That doesn't make it right to hide who the ultimate owner of the company is but it's something that happens in so many other areas of business. It's been a while since I bought a bar of Green and Black's chocolate so I don't know for sure if the wrapper tells the consumer that they're owned by Cadbury now, who are in turn owned by Kraft, a company who I think I'd describe as comparable to SABMC or ABI in their own way, or if it gives the impression - deliberately or otherwise - that Green and Blacks is still an independent company making organic and Fairtrade chocolate. If it's the latter then they're definitely in the same camp as BMC, and it ain't right. It matters to me who I buy from but I don't have the time to research the parentage of every single thing I purchase so transparency and information on a label is something I consider important. That's not the case for everyone.
    Kyrojack likes this.
  8. MikeWard

    MikeWard Savant (400) Pennsylvania Sep 14, 2011

    I'll go further. The Bros should give Jesskidden his own forum. Always, always, and interesting read.
    Beerandraiderfan and omnigrits like this.
  9. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    It may be more comparable than you realize.

    Phillip Morris bought Miller in 1969, then sold it to SAB in 2002.

    Phillip Morris acquired Kraft in 1988 and spun them off in 2007.
    Beerandraiderfan likes this.
  10. I wish I lived in a place like that as well. Unfortunately, I just live in a place where a store expects their employees to answer basic questions about the products it sells...not actively proselytize it's customer base.
  11. It's only called "proselytizing" when they're selling something fringe, like craft beer. When they're pushing mainstream stuff it's called "salesmanship."
  12. You are right. It was on tap at Buffalo Wild Wings one night. Scrumptious.
  13. I am of the opinion that anyone who cares enough to post on this board, should know more about beer than any clerk working in a store.
    Kyrojack and Stahlsturm like this.
  14. omnigrits

    omnigrits Savant (345) Texas Jun 1, 2006

    I don't understand the logic of that. I'm of the opinion that anyone working in a craft beer store should know at least as much as, if not more than, the average BA or be a BA themselves. There are bartenders/bar managers/owners/brewers/cellarmen/jesskidden posting here regularly.

    The important words are "any clerk" and "should". There are plenty of people who need a job; an opening at a place that sells beer, whether a beer store or a supermarket, comes up and they take it regardless. Some of them will never do more than smile at the customers and collect a wage packet at the end of the week, but it's been my experience over the years that taking a random job in any area of commerce or industry can spark an interest that leads to a new career, or at least a bookshelf with names like Jackson, Mosher and Oliver on it.
  15. :rolleyes: . . . I think I have 'awareness' fatigue in general, but even for many beer causes, something I'm supposed to be a little passionate about, relatively speaking.

    Getting. . . desensitized. . . to . . . causes. Can't . . . type . . . like. . . Shatner, much, longer. . .
    hardy008 likes this.
  16. cavedave

    cavedave Champion (930) New York Mar 12, 2009

    I don't think it is a non issue for anybody. But bringing politics into the buying of products results in a scale of injury that becomes a list of companies to "boycott". I think most folks are inured to spending money in ways that can be harmful, in fact we routinely spend money in ways that are so incredibly much more harmful than buying Budweiser that they/we tend to ignore any tiny problems.

    I will post #1 on my list, then skip to #18,943 on my list of companies to boycott due to problems associated with their business practices/use of their products.

    1. Oil companies, due to some of the profits from the sale of oil go directly to Al Qaeda and are used to fund weapons and pay fighters to kill Americans. Further, use of their products pollutes waterways and releases soot and free radicals and other chemicals into the air we breathe and contributes to poor health.
    ........(skip way ahead)

    18,943. Tire companies, due to rubber dust scraped off as normal wear while driving is polluting fresh water across the country and world.
    18,944. ABInBev, due to their ruthless grab for shelf space, and underhanded marketing and distribution policies that are keeping craft brewers from growing faster than 13% annually.

    ABI could really have gone one spot lower down, but Helium Party Products Companies were seen to be not quite as bad.
    brikelly, Kyrojack, hardy008 and 3 others like this.
  17. Very much so. Heck, a decent argument can be made that buying any taxable commodity can be equated with spending money in a ways that can be harmful. I love my country, but can't help not ignore where we're at in the context of history:

    No nation has ever incarcerated so many of its own peoples before (2 million and counting). Tax revenue to the government fuels prohibition and mass incarceration (and a bunch of other things that someone might disagree with and snitch the 'report' button).

    So, yes, beer corporations who hide the identity of their faux craft fall under the umbrella of bad things supported by our purchase $$. But its really far down on the list in the grand scheme of things.

    LEGALIZE FREEDOM!!!
    Danielbt likes this.
  18. Freedom is legal, it's just to expensive for most people!
    randylangford likes this.
  19. Ford

    Ford Savant (470) Texas Sep 8, 2012

    Yes.. it seems there are more and more brands showing up on shelves that look like a craft brew.. and it says nothing about the big three anywhere on the label... but then I find out it is brewed by one of the big three... now I can say I do usually take the time to search a brewery I'm thinking of trying on my iphone, but sometimes I'm in a rush and just grab something quickly.

    The first time I had a Leinie's.. I didn't know they had been purchased by one of the big boys...
  20. I've been mentally preparing a similar post to this but haven't taken the time to type it out, so thanks! Totally agree with you, and I think we all tend to lose that perspective when it comes to our particular hobbies/interests. The "harm" brought by buying ABI/SABM/etc is insignificant compared to many other things we happily/ignorantly support.

    Its fine to avoid AALs because you dislike them, or to prefer to support the craft brewer you know because he contributes to the community, but I think we ascribe way too much evil intent to the big brewer, and over-weight their perceived harm. If you're ready to boycott ABI over their business practices, you should really think about looking at what else you buy that's harmful to someone - its going to be a long list.
  21. This may or may not be true. However, the beer drinkers in question (and the focus of the original post) are the average consumer. People posting on this message board are not the average consumer.
    Ford likes this.
  22. JediMatt

    JediMatt Aficionado (210) Iowa Jun 18, 2010

    I definitely agree that the harm caused by ABI is insignificant compared to "real" problems in the world. However, this is a beer site. So beer issues are going to be the top priority HERE.

    And I disagree with your idea that if I boycott ABI, I have to boycott every big "evil" company in the world. If I can't boycott them all, I shouldn't boycott any? That makes no sense. I boycott several companies that I don't agree with their ideals/business practices/whatever. But I can't feasibly boycott them all. I do what I can. /shrug
    frazbri likes this.
  23. buzze40

    buzze40 Savant (300) Illinois Mar 9, 2010

    yeah, I agree... thats why once goose island got taken over the operation got more efficient and the price of BC Coffee went... oh wait.. well, I still agree.
  24. buzze40

    buzze40 Savant (300) Illinois Mar 9, 2010

    I agree with you too! Yeah! Lets stick it to the man. My truck will be parked in front of Goose Island tomorrow and everyone bring their bottles of Bourbon County (especially coffee and cherry made this year under the new management) and throw them in my truck and I will dispose of them in protest.... Heck, show em how mad you are... bring your King Henrys, Brambles and Rares too!
    BigBarley and notjustgc like this.
  25. Let's not get crazy. I'm just saying that I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling when I help pay for efforts to marginalize independent brewers and regain total domination of retail shelf space.
  26. http://beerpulse.com/2013/01/massachusetts-based-beer-retailer-to-drop-crafty-brands-from-shelves/

    Smart business move or mistake?

    Seems like a smart way to carve out a niche in the market place.
  27. It's their company, so they can do whatever they want. My concern has always been that craft-only shops have no choice but to inflate prices to make ends meet. Not sure if this is the case with Craft Bier Cellar, but we have examples in NH (Bert's, Top Shelf).
  28. "Craft" has long been related to brewery size since the term began being used as a replacement for "microbrew" in the late '80's, by brewers and beer writers.

    The retailer mentioned is obviously using the Brewers Association definition of "craft brewer" in which case it is not Pyramid's size that makes it non-craft, but the fact that the brewery is wholly owned by NAB which is primarily an adjunct lager importer (Labatt) and brewer (Genesee) as well as now being owned by the foreign, non-craft company, Cerveceria Costa Rica/Florida Ice and Farm Company.
  29. I drink what I like. I do like craft beer much better than macro. Given the equal taste and price of two beers I would pick the micro every time as I prefer the "underdog". I still buy macro beers and have PBR in the fridge most times. I love GI Sophie and till I find a readily available substitute at the same or less price I will still buy it unless the quality/tastes change. I love barrel aged stouts. Bought my first GI Bourbon County this year. Have not cracked it yet. At $6 a bottle it sure beats $15-25 bottles of other stouts in the bomber and 750 sizes. There are times I do not have the money to buy a case of Lagunitas so I buy PBR or Yuengling cans for less than half. It comes down to money a lot of times. If I was Bill Gates I would probably never drink macro again as I would be able to afford any beer from any brewer I wanted. There are many worse companies out there than beer companies. Wal Mart comes to mind. If you shop there and have issue with big beer companies maybe you should rethink a few things.

    Enjoy
    knucks999 likes this.
  30. loafinaround

    loafinaround Savant (370) New York Jul 16, 2011

    honestly, I don't think craft brewers... all 2700 of them, will ever dominate the market share. Most people buy food according to price, not quality. Over time, processed low quality food affects the taste buds so these flavors are expected, even if they're fairly horrendous and artificial (ex. most soda and prepackaged bread). So, even though a good portion of americans CAN afford better quality food, it no longer tastes familiar and therefore home-made from scratch is not even desirable.
    Just as craft cheeses will never outsell Kraft cheeses, craft beer will never outsell bud. Many Americans never even drank a non-mass produced beer. They have no idea of what a proper beer, made in batches as it has for millenia, should taste like.
    That being said, there SHOULD be a craft beer distribution revolution.... so all the microbreweries are no longer at the distribution whims of the big 3. Wouldn't doubt that could increase market share over 10%. That's the only real competition between bud and micros.

  31. I really think that when the majority of beer drinkers look for something to drink their only requirements are something that is:
    • refreshing/thirst quenching
    • doesn't require mixing or multiple ingredients
    • isn't considered girly
    • and will get them just moderately drunk like if they are drinking a bunch over an afternoon
    For people who are looking for something like this why worry about things like specialty malts and hop flavour, which is why I think it would be extremely hard for craft brewers to capture a significant market share. They are basically selling a different product.
  32. loafinaround

    loafinaround Savant (370) New York Jul 16, 2011

    totally agree... but any pilsner would fill that bill. It's just that these mass produced beers don't even taste like a real pilsner. They're off... like wonderbread is off. KWIM? It's just that everyone has it and has come to expect this is what beer (bread) should be.
    All the fancy shmancy beer stuff... that's all our fault (the craft beer consumers). Deeelicious! But not for most peoples' palates, undeniably.

  33. “totally agree... but any pilsner would fill that bill. It's just that these mass produced beers don't even taste like a real pilsner.”

    Do you have an example beer in mind when you state “real pilsner”? Why would you think that somebody who likes to drink a beer such as Bud or Bud Light would like that “real pilsner”?

    Cheers!
    hopfenunmaltz and loafinaround like this.
  34. But my whole point was that taste doesn't even matter to most people, at least not taste in the way that you described. Oh yea and there was one point I forgot to add: reasonable price point. Why bother paying a couple of bucks more for a real pilsner when bud light does the job I described above for less money? If flavour isn't even a top 5 consideration for some people it would be damn near impossible to change them I think. It would be like finding people who take the bus to work and are ok with it because it meets their requirements of getting to work and trying to convince them that they need to be driving a Lexus.
  35. loafinaround

    loafinaround Savant (370) New York Jul 16, 2011

    ok, I'm revealing my german heritage now. hofbrauhaus, for example. I know, not exactly in pathmark... but it is the "bud" of my ethnic butcher shop ;-)
    You and I are actually in agreement. I think the flooding of mass produced beer altered peoples' taste so they now prefer the mass produced beer, because that's what beer is expected to taste like.
    People's tastes can change, though. You can see increasing # of Americans now preferring less processed foods in recent years. When I was a kid (70's), kraft mac and cheese and hamburger helper boxes were in EVERY kitchen. But admittedly, change is occurring very slowly.
  36. loafinaround

    loafinaround Savant (370) New York Jul 16, 2011

    That's why at best I think the craft beer market can reach 10-12%. It's expensive. very expensive. People will never EVER try to develop a taste for something outside their budget. that being said, my prior comments were really regarding beer drinkers whose budgets could allow for craft beer exploration.
    Another factor is time. Let's be real. This hobby (procuring an awesome brew) can often be time consuming. A parent w/ 3 little kids likely won't have that luxury.
  37. So they take money from these companies they are railing against, allow them to participate in events, and then declare historically family owned breweries like Schell are not craft brewers. Honestly it sounds like they're talking out of both sides of their mouths.
    RMoeNay likes this.


  38. “I think the flooding of mass produced beer altered peoples' taste so they now prefer the mass produced beer, because that's what beer is expected to taste like.”

    Permit me to provide an alternative explanation. The vast majority of beer drinkers actually prefer to drink bland beers. Breweries like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are actually producing product that people prefer to buy and drink.

    Think about the relatively recent development of Light beer. Miller introduced Miller Lite in the 70’s. They had all kinds of interesting advertisements using macho sports figures and the ubiquitous “Tastes Great – Less Filling” ads. Is the American public truly that gullible that they will consume whatever is presented to them or is the real explanation that the vast majority of beer drinkers actually prefer bland products and the BMC companies provide it to them? I believe that the mainstream beer market is a customer driven market and the mega-brewers are going to provide what the masses want to drink.

    By the way Anheuser-Busch sort of took their time to enter the Light beer market: Bud Light was introduced in 1982.

    Cheers!
    Crusader likes this.
  39. loafinaround

    loafinaround Savant (370) New York Jul 16, 2011

    Good point. From my stout-biased perspective, I find all pilsners bland... (just can't say that aloud at my butcher shop!) But can see your point that hofbrauhaus and others might be too flavorful for others.
    Light beer I think was initially calorie driven. came around at the same time as aerobics and the jane fonda workout... but once again, the water-like qualities might appeal to some.
  40. But AB came out with both Michelob Light and what was originally called Anheuser-Busch Natural Light by the late 1970's IIRC. Contrary to it's current image, Natural Light was sold at above premium prices in the beginning, altho' both retailers and customers quickly dropped the long name and simply called it "Busch Light" (in markets where the then-regional Busch Bavarian was sold) or "Bud Light" despite AB's desires.

    Back then, many brewers were worried about cannibalizing their flagship brands with a "light" equivalent. It was one of Miller's big advantage with their beer called "Lite Beer from Miller" initially - it wasn't seen as by most as simply "Light Miller High Life". The fear of the other brewers was that they wouldn't necessarily win back their drinkers who switched to Lite Beer but simply move some of their flagship drinker over TO light beer. That attitude soon fell to the wayside for most companies by the early '80's - brew a light version of your beers or say goodbye.

    (Altho' it stuck around for most major imports- it took Van Munching/Heineken USA decades to bring out Heineken Light, which quickly soon outsold their Amstel Light).

    There was about a decade between the two. Miller acquired the "Lite" brand from Meister Brau in 1972 and Fonda's workout video dates from 1982, by which time Miller had climbed to the #2 brewer in the US (from #7) pretty much on the sales of "Lite" which would be the #3 brand in the US by '83.
    chimneyjim and Crusader like this.

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