News Brewers Association Launches New Seal to Designate Independent Beers

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,425) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Subscriber

    [​IMG]

    Independence Matters.


    Boulder, CO • June 27, 2017—In an effort to educate beer lovers about which beers are independently produced, the Brewers Association—the not-for- profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers—launched a new seal touting independent craft brewers.



    Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal captures the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. These breweries run their businesses free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers.

    Independence is a hallmark of the craft brewing industry, and it matters to the brewers who make the beer and the beer lovers who drink it. A recent study commissioned by Brewbound and conducted Nielsen found that “independent” and “independently owned” strongly resonated with the majority (81 percent) of craft beer drinkers. Increasingly, they are looking for differentiation between what’s being produced by small and independent craft brewers versus Big Beer and acquired brands. Beer drinkers, especially Millennials, expect transparency when it comes to their food and beverages. That transparency and underlying ownership can drive their purchase intent.

    “Independent craft brewers continue to turn the beer industry on its head by putting community over corporation and beer before the bottom line. They continue to better beer and our country by going beyond just making the beverage. These small businesses give back to their backyard communities and support thousands of cities and towns across the U.S.,” said Bob Pease, president & CEO, Brewers Association. “As Big Beer acquires former craft brands, beer drinkers have become increasingly confused about which brewers remain independent. Beer lovers are interested in transparency when it comes to brewery ownership. This seal is a simple way to provide that clarity—now they can know what’s been brewed small and certified independent.”

    The seal is available for use free of charge by any of the more than 5,300 small and independent American craft brewers that have a valid TTB Brewer’s Notice, meet the BA’s craft brewer definition, and sign a license agreement. It is available to both member and non-member breweries of the BA. In the coming weeks, months and years, beer lovers will see it on beer packaging, at retailers and in brewery communications and marketing materials.

    “Craft brewers build communities and the spirit of independent ownership matters” said Rob Tod, chair, Brewers Association Board of Directors and founder, Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. “When beer lovers buy independent craft beer, they are supporting American entrepreneurs and the risk takers who have long strived not just to be innovative and make truly great beer, but to also build culture and community in the process.”

    While small and independent craft brewers represent 99 percent of the 5,300+ breweries in the U.S., they make just 12 percent of the beer sold in the country. The rest of U.S. beer sales comes from Big Beer along with imported brands. As large brewers continue to have unprecedented influence and acquire millions of barrels of formerly independently brewed beer, the seal differentiates in a crowded and increasingly competitive marketplace.

    Breweries can find more information about the independent craft brewer seal at BrewersAssociation.org/seal and beer lovers can learn more at CraftBeer.com/seal.

    Follow the discussion at #IndependentBeer.

    Related:
    https://www.craftbeer.com/breweries/independent-craft-brewer-seal
    https://www.brewersassociation.org/news/show-them-your-independence/

    ###
     
  2. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (2,949) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Nice to see them taking a positive step beyond inventing terms such as "crafty beer."
     
  3. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

  4. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Defender (679) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    This is very cool, I mentioned something like this when another forum was talking about labels (Maybe a year ago). I remember getting a lot of flack over it and now we see it happening, awesome. I think it helps consumers who are not beer nerds understand things better.
    :)
     
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  5. jageraholic

    jageraholic Disciple (380) Sep 16, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I have no problem with this, but do breweries need to resubmit package designs to include the labels through the TTB approval board? If so this could cost the smaller independently owned breweries a decent amount to make the switch and for ones that don't want to pay, maybe hurt the sales by not having the label on there.
     
  6. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,425) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Subscriber

    No. https://www.brewersassociation.org/...ng-advertising/independent-craft-brewer-seal/
     
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  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,220) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Subscriber

    Probably not - given the TTB's numerous Allowable Changes to Approved Labels, such as:
     
    jmdrpi, jkblr, FBarber and 1 other person like this.
  8. Andy311x

    Andy311x Aspirant (256) Apr 28, 2008 North Carolina
    Subscriber

    I love this and hope it is adopted quickly and widespread
     
  9. Samlover55

    Samlover55 Zealot (575) Oct 8, 2015 New York
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I like this idea a lot, but what happens when (and it definitely will) an independent brewer sells out, and there are 1000's of labels in the market/ready to print?
     
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,220) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Subscriber

    Anheuser-Busch will just have to spend another coupla hundred bucks to print new labels?
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,780) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    I went to the Brewers Association website list and to my surprise Victory is listed as being an Independent Brewery since: “Greater than 25% ownership by Artisanal Brewing Ventures, which is a craft brewer.”

    From an article last year:

    “Victory opted instead to accept money from a private equity outfit in New York called Ulysses Management that already owned a minority stake in Southern Tier. Together, they formed a holding company, Artisanal Beverage Ventures, that now owns both Southern Tier and Victory.”

    http://www.philly.com/philly/column...ain_why_Victory_Brewing_went_Wall_Street.html

    So, now that Victory (and Southern Tier) sold their businesses to Private Equity, and that firm/holding company (ABV) now owns Victory (and Souther Tier) that makes ABV a craft brewer?

    I find this situation very confusing.

    Can somebody please explain the business machinations here?

    Cheers!

    @RobH @Sixpoint @sierranevadabill
     
    jakecattleco and chipawayboy like this.
  12. Samlover55

    Samlover55 Zealot (575) Oct 8, 2015 New York
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    true but depending on turnover rate, (for a few months) there will be misleading labels out there
     
  13. drewbage

    drewbage Meyvn (1,120) Mar 15, 2003 California
    Subscriber

    From the way it's been explained to me, after a brewery sells and fails to meet the definition required to use the seal, they'll have a period of time to cycle through packaging and remove it.

    @JackHorzempa the BA rules about ownership center on being bought by another alcohol beverage co that doesn't meet the definition laid out for membership. Selling to private equity (minus say ZX Ventures) doesn't run afoul of that.
     
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  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,780) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    But from my above post the Brewers Association stated: “Greater than 25% ownership by Artisanal Brewing Ventures, which is a craft brewer.”

    Can you please explain to me how ABV "is a craft brewer"?

    Cheers!
     
  15. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,868) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    I don't think Kinko's prints packaging labels. :p

    ('Course, A-B probably has an in-house print shop)
     
  16. zid

    zid Crusader (779) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Don't you think this will involve the same BS as everything else around here that deals with the logistics of a "definition?"
     
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  17. drewbage

    drewbage Meyvn (1,120) Mar 15, 2003 California
    Subscriber

    I think the wording is awkward, but ABV really is just an umbrella corp over two breweries that qualify as independent brewers. If ABV were instead of being owned by a private equity firm were owned (either entirely or over the designated %age) by a non-craft beer beverage company (read ABI; Miller/Coors; Henieken, etc.) they would no longer qualify. See CBA (Widmer/Redhook/Kona) as a example.
     
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  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,220) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Subscriber

    Unless the brewery in Anchor or Spoetzl...:rolleyes: (owned, respectively, by the executive officers of the Griffin Group and Gambrinus, founded as one of two US importers of Corona, the contract for which they only lost in 2006).

    Not saying how much the new labels will cost the new owner, only the cost to replace what few labels might be left after the deal actually closes, which is usually well after the initial announcement. :D

    So, you want to retroactively boycott beer brewed while the breweries were still considered "craft" by the BA? Typically, some people run out and buy the beer on shelves that was brewed while the company was still independent...
     
    #18 jesskidden, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
    Bitterbill likes this.
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,780) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    The description of "umbrella corp" makes more sense to me vs. the terminology that the Brewers Association utilizes of "craft brewer".

    Referring to ABV as being a "craft brewer" has me confused.

    Cheers!
     
  20. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (2,949) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    No, I suspect not. That has been a key component of the Association's attempts to have a definition of what differentiates craft brewers from the large corporate multi brand owning brewing companies.

    It is always difficult to develop a definition of anything, but the Association has typically been particularly focused on having such a definition.

    I'd suggest that the BS you refer to is folks outside the BA wanting to impose their own definition which includes something such as quality. The Association has not really ever tried to define a craft beer, just a craft brewery. The ownership criterion has been pretty clear since I first encountered it some years ago.
     
  21. Squire123

    Squire123 Meyvn (1,283) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Well, I'm all in favor of transparency and have no problem with an identifying label. When it comes to whether or not a brewery is independent I use the little bit pregnant test.
     
  22. zid

    zid Crusader (779) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    I'm assuming that they're really just changing the jargon around themselves by incorporating "independent" alongside "craft"... but also going so far as to putting more emphasis on "independent" than "craft" (at least visually). They need to do this because of certain failings of the craft term (by their needs) that have become larger over time. This is due to the actions of AB-InBev, Heineken, etc... and the BA is attempting to catch up. They are being reactionary rather than proactive. Yes, they have tried to define brewers rather than brew, but they've used brew to define the brewer :) ... so in essence, they somewhat defined craft beer in the past by default, and the problem they are now facing is a result of this. They are trying to shift emphasis away from the product itself.

    Yes, the BS is partially from outside the BA, but the BA isn't working towards strictly insular goals. The consumer is part of the equation, and that consumer doesn't ask the store worker where their "craft brewery beer" is, they ask where the "craft beer" is. That's why the BA has taken this step - it's a dialogue with the consumer in the beer aisle. Back to the definition - nothing has changed in that regard, but the signifier has changed to "independent craft." Any of the fuzziness with the term craft won't go away, but now, they've introduced another layer of fuzziness for the consumer by prominently including the term independent. What does this mean? Privately owned? Free from outside control? Let's not pretend that this will always be black and white. (But like I said, the BA definition hasn't changed, just the signifier.) People here still can't figure out why Anchor is still in.

    A problem with the seal is that it will communicate which beers come from a company that fit the BA's criteria, but it will not communicate which beers do not unless 100% of the breweries that could get the seal embrace it.
     
  23. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (2,949) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Yes, but they are not changing the language of their definition of a craft brewer, just emphasizing in a new and different way for consumers a part of that definition for those consumers who care about such things.

    Yes, it is in part a reaction to the steps taken by Big Beer to regain some of the market share they lost by not noticing until too late that a disruptive innovation was taking place, i.e. a shift in popular tastes of some demographic groups that helped make the growth of that innovation called craft brewers possible. But they can also be seen as taking a proactive step to respond to the reactive actions of companies such as ABInBev. Any fuzziness in the BA or label you see is part of a mitigation of the reactive effects of a much larger fuzziness being created by such as ABInBev.

    The use of the new additional label is being offered to any and all craft breweries who request it. Of course any such brewer that qualifies as a craft brewery can choose not to use it. But such is the case for any organization that does not have totalitarian control over its membership and has no power to force any brewery to join or remain a member. They can only make something available to those who qualify and choose to use it.

    Now here's a thought question (borrowed from someone more thoughtful than I). Give us a short, non-fuzzy definition of "game" that includes all uses of the word "game," including, but not limited to, such things as Rugby, Tennis, Catch Ball, Dodge Ball,, Hopscotch, Solitaire, and such things as working out possible scenarios on a simulated battlefield using toy figures an pieces for how a wartime battle might be expected to work itself out to an end (often described as "war games" and/or "serious games").

    Remember, it must be both short and non-fuzzy (or not ambiguous if you prefer to think of it that way). (Probably best to use PM if you give it a try and think you have succeeded.)
     
    #23 drtth, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    zid likes this.
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,220) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Subscriber

    It was only a few years ago that the Brewers Association was against such a "seal of approval"...

    Brewers Association’s logo on labels not to be interpreted as a ‘craft’ identifier

    Quoting Paul Gatza in 2013 about brewers using the B.A. logo itself:
    the article ending with the claim that "...there is a market out there for some kind of seal/identification right on the package though it won’t be coming from the BA, at least not anytime soon."
     
    #24 jesskidden, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
  25. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (2,949) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Interesting.

    (Especially when there have been so few changes in the brewing industry landscape over the short time of the last 3 years. ;) )
     
    #25 drtth, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
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  26. zid

    zid Crusader (779) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    We are saying a lot of the same things. I can see how my first post might have come across as overly critical of the BA - it wasn't meant to read that way. I'm saying that definitions will be challenging, and this seal will not remedy that (but in fact make things worse). They aren't changing the definition, but they are changing the language. They've taken one part of their definition and moved it to the term. People probably think I'm making something out of nothing, but I feel that this is indicative of the defining story of the beer landscape today (pun unintended)... much more than the 5000+ breweries narrative.

    Going to their three tenets, this isn't the "traditional craft" label. That part of the equation has been withering on the vine. Notice how it's even missing from the video in the first post. You see this all the time in company communications as they try to change the language around their companies. The video claims that "the challenge [for beer lovers] is to know who is truly independent" and that this seal is to "create clarity and transparency." My feeling is that this seal can't really accomplish that because it's only indicating independence according to the BA's use of the term. A brewery 100% owned by Amazon, 100% owned by Duvel Moortgat, or 24% owned by AB-InBev would be "independent" (at least I think... I honestly can't even tell!... their definiton is worded so poorly). I'm not faulting them for arriving at their own place to draw a line, but this does not "create clarity" regarding "who is truly independent."
     
    drtth likes this.
  27. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (165) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    not sure whats confusing here, ABV is a craft brewer since they dont make adjunct beer as a multinational or fit the definition of a major or foreign brewer. They are US based in Charlotte and operate two "very" craft breweries. Similar to Oskar Blues no?
     
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  28. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    And because said definition is constantly changing to suit certain interests, this scenario becomes even more confusing.

    What this whole situation comes down to is that these half-measures are little more than ridiculous feather-ruffling by the BA. Until the BA and independent craft brewers completely distance themselves from "Big Beer", i.e. stop taking their money and using their distribution network, all this posturing is all for not. These are hollow threats, the lot of them.
     
  29. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (2,949) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    It may not create or improve clarity for you. Whether or not it does so for the typical non-Beer Advocate type consumer (e.g., most Millenials) is an empirical question that remains to be answered since the data are not even close to being in yet.

    BTW, did you come up with your completely clear and completely unambiguous definition of "game" yet? Be sure and let me hear it by PM (since it will probably be consider by the mods as being off topic and not having anything to do with beer). Once you have done so successfully we may be able suggest some changes to the Brewer's Association definition of craft brewery. ;)
     
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,780) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    Jim, I am guessing that you are stating that ABV is 'now' a craft brewery since they purchased Victory and Southern Tier?

    If Holding Company A purchases craft brewery B that then makes A a craft brewery vs. a holding company? This impresses me as being akin to circular reasoning.

    In contrast if craft brewery A purchases another craft brewery (B) then it certainly make sense to me that craft brewery B was purchased by a craft brewery since A was already a brewery.

    Cheers!
     
  31. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Here's the rub with this particular scenario. ABV didn't purchase ST or Victory. They are a corporation that ST and Victory formed together to help share costs. It just happens to have investment from PE as well.
     
  32. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (165) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    The ABV entity didnt exist until it was created to merge the previously PE owned ST with VBC. So one holding company folded into another new creation and this new entity owns craft brewers and hence is a craft brewer since they dont fall into the other BA defined disqualifying characteristics (foreign, large adjunct based....).
     
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  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,780) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Supporter

    As I posted previously:

    “Victory opted instead to accept money from a private equity outfit in New York called Ulysses Management that already owned a minority stake in Southern Tier. Together, they formed a holding company, Artisanal Beverage Ventures, that now owns both Southern Tier and Victory.”

    The formation of ABV was as much an ‘artifact’ of Ulysses Management as any.

    Cheers!
     
  34. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (165) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    Not true.
    correct
     
  35. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I guess you could look at it like that, but ABV doesn't exist without the merger of ST and Victory. The PE bit is basically a sidebar, as they still own a minority stake in ABV, just like they did with ST.
     
  36. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (165) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    not true at all. Sidebar? Where do you think the capital came from?!
     
  37. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Could you point me towards a source that states that a PE firm ever had majority control over either entity? Serious inquiry.
     
  38. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (165) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    its out there, Im sure Jack can post links. I read the full contract terms so I know exactly the org chart details. Jack is correct in that Ulysses Management already owned the majority of ST prior to the formation of ABV.
     
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
  39. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Initiate (182) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania

    I'm confused. He said "minority stake" in his posts. That's what I originally thought and that's why I asked for a source. Not to "be right", but to make sure that I had the correct information.

    Do you know how much, percentage-wise, of ABV is owned by PE and how much is owned by ST and Victory?
     
    drtth likes this.
  40. Starkbier

    Starkbier Initiate (165) Sep 19, 2002 Maryland

    yes I do. And you are correct, I didnt notice the minority comment, that should say majority.
     
    EvenMoreJesus likes this.
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