News Brewers Association Board Proposes New Craft Brewer Definition

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by jesskidden, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Brewers Association Board Proposes New Craft Brewer Definition, Intends to Form Political Action Committee

    As expected, given the confusion over "TRADITIONAL" being re-defined as "from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients" :thinking_face: in 2014 and Boston Beer Co. about to produce more non-beer (cider, seltzer, tea, etc) beverages than beer - thus, no longer fitting "TRADITIONAL" requirement that "...A brewer ... has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers..."

    They also want to create a new "voting member class":
     
    #1 jesskidden, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  2. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,549) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
    Trader

    On one hand, I see an industry organization doing what they're supposed to do: look out for the best interests of their members.

    On the other hand, perhaps this organization has, ahem, fluid, ethics.

    All this is way above my paygrade.
     
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  3. BruChef

    BruChef Initiate (190) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    Quite a coincidence...like the last time they changed the amount of barrels a brewery could produce in order to accomadate BBC’s increasing numbers.
     
  4. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,634) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The beer world, and the beverage world in general, are changing as the demographics and popular tastes of beer and alcoholic beverage drinkers in general are changing.

    Brewers and organizations who ignore change or fail to recognize and deal with that change will also begin to fail...

    Just as the big craft brewers have been adapting/changing so too should an organization that represents all craft brewers change. The.BA have been a bit late to the game on this one.
     
    #4 drtth, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
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  5. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    But it's not being portray as a coincidence - the B.A. admits as much "...the timing of evaluating and revising the definition is related to Boston Beer...” in the quote in the OP.

    Just as they did in a Press Release in Jan. 2011 when the barrelage limit went from 2M to 6M bbl.
    The B.A. does not want to subtract BBC's barrelage from their "Craft" totals. What is interesting is comparing that current 8% figure for BBC's share of the "Craft" market to the one in 2010 - 18.7% according to the B.A.
     
    #5 jesskidden, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
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  6. Foyle

    Foyle Champion (807) Sep 29, 2007 North Carolina

    I began ignoring the BA several years ago. As I learned more about the organization I grew tired of their rhetoric of 'us v. them' in the beer world. They seem to regularly change who belongs to each category to suit their own whims. For instance Yuengling (which I have enjoyed for years) was part of 'them' until BA deemed them 'us', yet Yuengling changed nothing about their products or the way they do business. BA just wanted to increase the % of 'us' being sold so Yuengling became 'kosher'.

    I drink whatever I like from whatever producer I like. If the fact that I enjoy products from both 'us' and 'them' makes me part of the evil 'them' empire I really don't care.
     
  7. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    The BA is a joke. Full stop.
     
  8. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, Yuengling did join The Brewers Association in 2011:
    so being a dues-paying "Supporting Member" probably helped influence the change a few years later of "Traditional" to include adjunct brewing (although non-member [at the time] August Schell's Jace Marti made most of the news stories given his more public response).

    IIRC, at the time it was stated that Yuengling had never previously belonged to any of the other national brewers' organizations - United States Brewers Assoc. > The Beer Institute, or the old "small brewers" group, The Brewers Association of America. (Yuengling did belong to the Pennsylvania Brewers Association.)

    Found that pretty interesting, but never found a source one way or another.
     
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  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Well, it has been a number of years (4?) since the BA once again changed the definition of a craft brewer so I suppose it is now due for another change.:rolling_eyes:

    I can't wait to see what they do in another few years.:stuck_out_tongue:

    The only constant is change?:thinking_face:

    Cheers!
     
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  10. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Nobody's saying that brewers shouldn't make other beverages besides beer. If they think that it will enhance the profitability of their business, then they should certainly consider it. However, if by doing so that disqualifies them from having certain labels, then they should take that into consideration, too, instead of lobbying for a change of the definition of said label.

    Look for BBC to receive a minority investment of over 25%, causing the BA to move that goalpost as well.
     
  11. Loops

    Loops Initiate (54) Feb 13, 2014 Missouri

    BA has made 3 or 4 changes to keep Boston Beer in their scope.
     
  12. beernuts

    beernuts Disciple (324) Jan 23, 2014 Virginia

    Honest question: does any of this affect consumers in any way?
     
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  13. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (544) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I know Brewer's Association tracks various statistics that help their members and others follow what was happening in the industry. Years ago it made sense to separate "craft" beer from "non-craft" beer for statistical purposes; even if the line of separation had some fuzziness then it was a close enough approximation of the real market to have statistical meaning. It was a good metric. But today, the line between craft and non-craft is so much less clear, which makes the dataset less clear or uncertain. When statistics are generated based on unclear data the results are also unclear....garbage in, garbage out. The BA is trying to keep up with the times by refining their definition, but it feels desperate, somewhat manipulative/self-serving to keep showing growth of "craft" beer, and partial to special interests (like Boston Beer Co.). Also, when the rules of statistical dataset change through time, comparing the statistics through time is more difficult.

    It seems to me best way the BA could keep up with the times is by letting go of this increasingly unclear concept of craft beer, or at least deemphasize it. For industry folks (i.e. people like the BA's members) who are trying to understand what's happening in the industry, craft vs. non-craft is not a very valuable statistic any more, but there's still plenty of other ways to organize data that would be useful to industry. The BA needs to focus more on that and not hang their credibility on this shifting definition of "craft".

    ^^ Keeping in mind that I'm just a simple consumer and not an industry insider by any means. This is just the perspective I have from my proverbial armchair.
     
  14. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    People want transparency. This move by the BA is less than that.

    Agreed.
     
  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    They pretty much have (although, likely, they wouldn't admit it having wedded themselves to the "Craft" term).

    For a brief period after the merger that created the B.A., this was the explanation:

    Which was pretty useless and laughable a definition and probably why they abandoned it for some form of "We don't define craft beer..."

    So, now they're left with really only "Small" - since their recent decisions have rendered "Independent" meaningless, too. (I mean, Firestone Walker, Boulevard and Ommegang - all of which brew what most think of as "craft beer" - aren't really "independent" if they're wholly-owned by Duvel, are they?)

    And that's really what they always should have been - the Small Brewers Association (which the old Brewers Association of America was).
     
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,647) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    It appears to me that in one aspect they are de-emphasizing the terminology of "craft brewery" by emphasizing the terminology of "Independent" via their Independent Seal initiative. Do you view this as a positive step or is it just another manifestation of GIGO?

    Cheers!

    [​IMG]
     
  17. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,319) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium

    Hmmm...I think this is at least a minimally positive, if still arbitrary. It's still somewhat confusing since they had to go throw a percentage ownership in there and it rests on the false proposition of the shakey (arbitrary?) "craft" definition to begin with. It is not really helping, in my opinion, as it is right now. It's not aiding the consumer who wants transparency - oh yeah, they are independent except for that percentage owned by Big Old XYZ. Ditch the meaningless word "craft" and just have it as "independent" and have it mean just that with no further interpretation of perfectly understandable words.

    Or just forget about the whole thing. Opinions differ anyway, and quite a bit by what I read here. Some people are dialed up to 11 about ABV or MillerCoors or private equity owning another brewery or even a portion of one. Some people don't care at all, and most are probably somewhere in the middle. So - is it really important, useful information? To some consumers, the independent designation carries significant meaning. Yuengling (or BBC or SN) produces a gazillion barrels - buy yay they are independent? Does the volume even matter?

    I was thinking as I read this thread - what would be more useful to me? I can find brewing capacity information elsewhere or reason it out for myself. Useful, for those who want to know, would be knowing who owns whom. Not some number from a hat production volume that seems self-serving to the BA. How hard is it to figure out that a farm brewery with a 5-10 bbl system is making less volume than even a small-sized regional or decent sized local, never mind a brewery with national/international distribution. I can't always figure out the convolutions of who owns what even with businesses I work with frequently at work, let alone in a different industry where I'm a true shopper/consumer/casual observer.
     
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  18. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (836) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    They should just do what they mean instead of beating around the bush. Craft beer is that which is not owned, even in part, by ABI or MillerCoors. I don't think any of the other ownership matters to them.
     
  19. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,495) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Trader

    I can understand the need to have a living definition and to tweak it in light of some unforeseen innovations (like CBD or THC) in brewing. But cider, mead, seltzer, etc. are not beer. If they're changing the definition to encompass non-beer, then the definition of "brewery" needs changing. And that's silly.
     
  20. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (544) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I'm going to cop out on this answer because @LeRose already said everything I would...

    Ditto.
     
  21. ScupperFrank

    ScupperFrank Initiate (15) Nov 5, 2018 Florida

    As Yogi is often quoted "It's 1984 all over again"

    "...TRADITIONAL" being re-defined as "from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients"..."

    The article begins with that phrase, and it captures the essence of the problem: it changes the definition of a word.

    Traditional is traditional, and it is for the greatest part antithetical to innovative. Adjusting words to fit needs is analagous to changing facts to fit beliefs: it is wrong. Find a better way to encompass the needs of the Association membership.

    It reminds one of the Orwellian concept of Newspeak as expressed in 1984: up is down, good is bad; fiscal well-being, expediency, power, and control trump truth.

    I have no problem with adjusting to continue to embrace a changing membership, but at some point, if a brewery transcends brewing such that brewing is not it's main effort, than we must conclude it's not a brewery but another type of organization. And if a craft brewery is removed from the rolls of craft brewers because it exceeds the parameters of craft brewing along one or more axes, then we must conclude it is no longer a craft brewery. And if the Association loses a certain percentage of its industry statistics because of it, so be it.
     
  22. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    I have felt for many years that "craft" is utterly meaningless in the context of brewing. Beer of any description does not make itself, it has to be made by skilled people (usually with lots of technology to help)-if you like it needs to be crafted.
    Reinventing the wheel still results in a wheel.
    The only criterion I make about beer is whether I enjoy it or not.
     
  23. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,102) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Bend over for Boston Beer Company but don't give an inch to Yuengling. The BA might find themselves being called something other than the Brewers Association.
     
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    :thinking_face: Not sure what exactly you're referring to, but The Brewers Association (which Yuengling only joined in 2011) changed their "Craft Brewer" definition in 2014 to allow Yuengling - and other small, primarily "adjunct brewers" - to be consider craft, and, as a result, they've been the #1 "Craft Brewer" every year since in the Annual B.A. List - the top spot that Boston Beer had held since the beginning of The Brewers Association in '05 (as well previously in the 1990s during the Association of Brewers/IBS era).

    Of course, Yuengling being at #1 during the last 4 years is a result of the B.A.'s decision not to count BBC's non-beer production of alcoholic tea, cider and seltzer.