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

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

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  1. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (1,923) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota

    Yep, this is why I don't really care what the Brewer's Association thinks. Yes, Schell's makes Grain Belt and it makes up the majority of their sales, but Schell's is one of the most traditional breweries out there, making superlative examples of styles such as Hefeweizen, Bock, Vienna, Schwarzbier and other German styles. Plus their one-offs have included virtually non-existent styles (at least among US brewers) such as Rauchbier, Czech Dark Lager, Weihnachtsbier, Burton Ale and Biere de Noel.

    One of my favorite breweries, and if the Brewer's Association won't include them, then fuck em.
  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,256) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, I can think of a couple of dozen revived brands in the last few decades of the craft era and most of them have been priced similar to craft beer (as opposed to their previous incarnations - since typically many beers sink to the discount level before disappearing) and many have stressed recipes that look further back in the past than to the current styles of US adjunct lagers and light beer.

    The most obvious and successful brand that went all "craft" would probably be the ACME line from North Coast.
  3. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Zealot (555) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    Shame on a brewery for making a technically good beer but styles deemed "boring" by the modern beer geek.

    But a brewery puts out barrel - aged crap full of faults or some awful "extreme beer" & that's worthy of their promotion? The BA is a joke.
    cmannes likes this.
  4. knucks999

    knucks999 Initiate (0) Sep 30, 2008 Colorado

    Here's what I don't get: craft brewers can't make enough beer. Almost everyone is growing. Who's losing market share? Not craft brewers. These brewers saying "don't drink faux craft" couldn't make enough beer to support that transfer of volume. Craft brewers are just scooping up money, why do they seem to be crying about it?
  5. brownswisscow

    brownswisscow Initiate (0) Feb 9, 2012 Vermont

    let's extrapolate the 'shouldn't hide the true owner thing' to other industries
    fine example is the utility industry in VT, which recently had the largest power co purchased by the 2nd largest.

    the largest power co is the combined Green Mountain Power
    the only nat gas co is Vermont Gas Systems

    Both are owned by a Canadian Company Gaz Metro LP
    Gaz Metro LP is then owned by Valener and Gaz Metro Inc
    Valener is the publiclly traded portion of Gaz Metro LP
    Gaz Metro Inc is owned by Enbridge and Trencap
    Trencap is privately owned (pension funds)
    Enbridge is a publiclly traded oil/gas pipeline company with a market cap of 35B.

    the majority of VTers now effectively ship all their power bills to Canada, to a oil/gas company and the regulators let it happen (or more aptly shoved it down our throats).
    Meanwhile on the otherhand, we have banned fracking and push like crazy for solar and wind to reduce oil usage.

    The world is a crazy place. Ownership structure will never be completely transparent, just how the world works.
    franklinn likes this.
  6. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    My goodness
  7. biking4beer

    biking4beer Disciple (345) Oct 5, 2006 Colorado

    It's not about right now. It's about what has happened in the past. It's about what could happen in the future. Don't rest on your laurels when times are good.
    knucks999 likes this.
  8. biking4beer

    biking4beer Disciple (345) Oct 5, 2006 Colorado

    I think this issue has been turned into a lot of things it is not. The BA is attempting to educate those consumers that care who makes their beer. I would say more people than you realize care and don't realize they are being deceived. If you care, educate yourself. If you know someone else that cares, educate them. If you don't care, keep doing what you're doing.

    To me, Mr. Calagione points out the bigger picture with this statement, "If you want to keep the diversity excitement of the American beer landscape healthy, support indie American craft breweries."

    The craft beer industry will not to grow at this rate indefinitely, and BMC will try to get their chunk of flesh. Eventually, there will be casualties. Let's just hope it's not a beer or brewery that is one of your favorites.
  9. jdklks

    jdklks Initiate (0) Aug 9, 2007 Maryland

    First of all, consumers need to educate themselves, period. Businesses will always try to make money, by whatever means possible. You can't ask a business to voluntarily do something that might turn people away from their product (in this case, asking BMC to label their "craft(y)" offshoots). And you can't legislate under the assumption that consumers are always the victims. If you bought a speed reading set a decade ago, you're stupid. If you called miss Cleo for your "free readin," you're stupid. If a homeopathic doctor is your primary physician, you're stupid. There is plenty of information available to the consumer in most every market, and it is the consumer's responsibility to do his or her homework.

    Secondly, it's funny looking at these comments and juxtaposing them with Greg Koch's recent hypocritical kick about craft getting too big (which, while I respect Greg Koch, everything he's been saying lately is really adding up to a heap of garbage).
  10. kelvarnsen

    kelvarnsen Devotee (402) Nov 30, 2011 Ontario (Canada)

    I get the feeling that a number of smaller brewers are starting to freak out. I mean in years past they could distance themselves from they big guys by just saying they make better beer. But that isn`t realy true if the AB produced Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout has a 100 BA score. So they make it about who is craft and who is just crafty and the whole thing sounds like hipsters debating if a band you like is an authentic indie band or sellouts or something.
    Norica likes this.
  11. Jerry

    Jerry Initiate (0) Apr 15, 2012 Illinois

    Good article but in the end, it doesn't matter to me who makes a beer. If I like it, I'll drink it. I enjoy a Blue Moon once in a while.
  12. jacksback

    jacksback Initiate (0) Jul 20, 2011 Massachusetts

    That has to be one of the dumbest, most ill-informed lines I've ever read here. You REALLY think the owner of a brewery has nothing to do with the product or how it's made??
  13. Ri0

    Ri0 Poo-Bah (2,562) Jul 1, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    I have substitute for BCBS. Can anyone rec a substitute for Sofie? I'd much rather spend my money with small guys, but I really like Sofie.
  14. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    There is so much about this post that I detest, I don't even know where to begin.

    This describes every business on Planet Earth, IMHO. I can't think of one that is delivering products or services because they don't want you to buy them. Every advertisement you see or hear on TV or radio or in print or even on this website is telling you how to spend your money.

    WTF are you talking about?

    This is a wake-up call that consumers should be more educated. A lot of people who are buying the stealth brews would pick something else if they knew what they were buying. If you're not one of those, great, but at least you're now informed (assuming you've even read the materials we're discussing).

    Unfairly using your market dominance to force retailers and distributors to limit consumer choice is an exclusionary tactic. Urging consumers to be more informed is the exact opposite of that. I can not believe you or anyone would have a problem with a group saying "these are our products, these are their products, ours are better, don't take our word for it, try them yourself!" It is the American way.
    JavaNoire, frazbri and JediMatt like this.
  15. savagewhisky

    savagewhisky Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2007 Virginia

    I don't think anyone has a problem with a brewer or group of brewers asserting that their products are better or true mom & pop shops. The problem is when you turn it into a mode of morality, which BA seems to be trying to do and a lot of craft beer fans are following. The morality of small brewer good big brewer bad. Therefore you should drink craft beer because it is moral--not because it is better.
  16. NarrowG8

    NarrowG8 Initiate (0) Oct 1, 2012

    It seems pretty easy to tell - I've noticed all those "micro-brews" that are owned by BMC are the only ones that are readily available at almost every sporting event, music venue, etc. From now on I'll stick with Sierra Neveda or Sam Adams at events. Other wise, the beers we all buy are usually not owned by BMC because most of those mentioned - Leinenkugel, etc really aren't that special.
  17. JediMatt

    JediMatt Initiate (81) Jun 18, 2010 Iowa

    While I'm not thrilled about the big 2 trying to "sneak" their products into the craft beer market, that a much smaller issue compared to the other things they are doing, like trying to gain control of the distribution tier. I'm way more concerned with them squeezing out smaller breweries that rely on current distribution practices to get their beers to my state.
    JavaNoire and frazbri like this.
  18. jacksback

    jacksback Initiate (0) Jul 20, 2011 Massachusetts

    What's the problem with injecting that morality into beer purchases? If people want to consider said "morality" when making purchases, good for them.
  19. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    "Morality" is a word that you and Longstaff have used. It does not appear in the Post-Dispatch article, and I don't understand where you are getting it from. The BA is saying that the non-craft products, in general, do not live up to our standards, and we think you should have the same high standards that we do. Others surely have called InBev and their kin immoral, but the BA has been extremely careful to craft a thoughtful definition, promote it, and avoid even the hint of any kind of moral judgement, IMHO.
  20. kelvarnsen

    kelvarnsen Devotee (402) Nov 30, 2011 Ontario (Canada)

    But it is like they can't use the line "our products are better go try them" any more since how many small brewers have beers with a 100 rating? So they are going with a different tactic and saying are beers are better because they are more authentic craft. But to me they don't really do a good job of explaining what that means.

    I mean yes AB is a huge company, but in reality so is Sierra Nevada (not as big as AB, but bigger than just about everyone else). They have breweries in two states, and according to an article I read they chose North Carolina for their second brewery at least in part because of the tax breaks they were getting from the local and state government. Plus I imagine they had to arrange all kinds of financing, either privately or through a bank to build that new brewery. I would find it hard to believe that the CFO doesn't have a ton of influence when it comes to making management decisions.

    What exactly are the qualification that make them ok but not goose island? What about Sam Adams? What about Magic Hat (they are owned by North American Breweries, who used to be owned by a private equity firm, and are now owned by a large Costa Rican beverage conglomerate)?

    If we go to Europe it gets even harder to decide who is who. Schneider and Sons is huge and makes a ton of beer and it is available all over the world, which you would think would be a mark against them. But at the same time they have done collaborations with the Brooklyn Brewery which should give them a ton of credibility. How about fullers from the UK? They make very high quality beer but they make a ton of it. They have been doing barrel aging for years and putting beer in casks probably forever. On the other hand they ship there beer all over the world too, plus when I was there in 2009 they had a robotic arm to sort kegs and cost over a million euros. That is probably more than the cost of the entire brewing set up for a large number of micros.

    So until someone can give me a cut and dry set of rules for who is craft and who is not and who it is ok to like I will continue to just go with what tastes good.
  21. savagewhisky

    savagewhisky Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2007 Virginia

    It may be true that nobody is using the term morality, but that's the underlying sentiment in a lot of the discussion about big brewers. Because they have made bad in the past (which they have) people seem to assume that everything they will do in the future will be bad. That isn't necessarily the case, especially when we're talking about a big brewer acquiring a craft brewer (not merely disguising one of their beers as a craft beer).

    That's what I mean by dressing up the issue in robes of morality. All craft beer isn't good. And all macro-beer isn't bad. So, if your only real concern is the quality of beer then there's no reason to create blacklists.

  22. savagewhisky

    savagewhisky Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2007 Virginia

    I have no problem with a person who wants to feel like they are being morally good by buying a locally produced beer and helping their local economy or something. I take issue when people try to make the argument that the only good tasting beer is and always will be craft beer and everyone else is hurting the future possibility of good tasting beer by buying anything other than craft.
    kelvarnsen likes this.
  23. Tballz420

    Tballz420 Meyvn (1,187) Mar 4, 2003 Minnesota

    Wow, that's quite a feat, seeing that a lot of what is said on here is horseshit.

    So if i go to the bank and get a loan to start a brewery, the banker is going to submit his homebrew recipes and make me brew them?

    Which beers that Goose Island brews have been changed since new ownership? I will go try them and compare them to my notes from 10 years ago.

    As I have said for the third time now, if someone buys a brewery and changes the recipe for worse, that will affect their sales, as I assume has happened in the case of Becks. All of the comments of my review of that beer on my website say something like "I used to like this beer, but now it sucks and I don't buy it anymore."

    So here we have one example of a brewery that was unaffected by ownership change (at least I will assume so until you point out which beers I need to try again) and one that was. In the latter case, I'm not privy to the sales figures of Beck's, but I assume it was a poor business decision.
    savagewhisky likes this.
  24. kelvarnsen

    kelvarnsen Devotee (402) Nov 30, 2011 Ontario (Canada)

    It seems to me like the big brewers can't win no matter what they do. I mean if they continue to make light lagers and market the hell out of them they get criticized for making swill. If they actually make an effort to make better tasting beers, either through brewery acquisitions, or by trying new recipes they get criticized for not being real craft.
    acevenom and JavaNoire like this.
  25. TheodorHerzl

    TheodorHerzl Zealot (518) Mar 30, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I think it is about time to abolish the word craft. I've had a great deal of shitty craft in my day. A new place opens and we say "congratulations, you brew craft beer." It means about as much to be as the other buzz words artisinal, small batch, limited....bla bla

    Have confidence in your product, don't be an asshole, brew good beer and I will support it.
  26. jacksback

    jacksback Initiate (0) Jul 20, 2011 Massachusetts

    The bank is giving you a loan. The bank does not own the brewery.

    Are you even trying?
  27. BColton1

    BColton1 Initiate (0) Jan 7, 2005 Rhode Island

    I think good good beer. I'm not going to stop drinking Goose Island because InBev owns it. I'll stop drinking Goose Island if the quality goes downhill.
    taxman, jds8411 and Jerry like this.
  28. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    How about if they change the branding on BCBS to read "Anheuser-Busch Goose Island"? That would make it easier to acquire for sure. AB InBev has a 49.2% market share in the US, and nearly 25% of the entire world. I disagree with the idea that they "can't win no matter what they do."
  29. kelvarnsen

    kelvarnsen Devotee (402) Nov 30, 2011 Ontario (Canada)

    What I meant was they and other big brewers can't win in the eyes of people who would criticize them. I mean the people who would call them out for only making bland lagers seem to be the same people who would call them out for their more flavourful beers being some kind of fake-craft.
  30. Tballz420

    Tballz420 Meyvn (1,187) Mar 4, 2003 Minnesota

    You seem like you got lit up on some high ABV beers last night and woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Try some herbal hangover cure and chill out.
    savagewhisky likes this.
  31. cmannes

    cmannes Disciple (383) Mar 15, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Schell's has responded to the article.

    A few choice quotes

    JavaNoire, fields336, bsp77 and 4 others like this.
  32. gory4d

    gory4d Defender (677) Apr 14, 2007 Texas
    Beer Trader

  33. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (211) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    I can understand that the BA wants to promote all-malt brewing by including a criteria based around this type of brewing since it's still a minor category in the US beer market overall. Since craft beer is about having options and choice, and one of the things which had been lacking in the market having been all-malt beers, this makes sense. But there will always be trouble when it comes to writing the criterias so that they make perfect sense rather than seem inconsistent. Traditional is obviously a word many brewers would like to claim for themselves, whether based on age or brewing ingredients or techniques etc. They can't go with reinheitsgebot (in its most simple form that is, the ingredients) since craft brewing also includes the use of a myriad of different ingredients at this point, so it would seem odd to use the limitations intended by the purity law as a criteria for who is a craft brewer. If they wanted to be nice to the regional adjunct/all-malt breweries they could use some sort of convoluted "mainly all-malt brewing see above for definition" criteria-term I suppose and leave the "traditional" can of worms alone, or just go with traditional and end up hurting the feelings of those three regional breweries in their push for more all-malt brewing and the ability to make a distinction between the BMC and craft breweries.
  34. Winston_Smith

    Winston_Smith Initiate (0) Oct 25, 2012 Kentucky

    Thank you for enlightening me to beers that I will (do my damndest to) never drink again.
    pixieskid likes this.
  35. RKPStogie

    RKPStogie Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I was going to say the same thing. Below is another link of Shell's response to the brewers association. The brewers association is full of s**t on this one.
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,256) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Great reply by Schell's Jace Marti, but unlike the Brewers Association's new rather nasty "blacklist-like" LIST OF DOMESTIC NON-CRAFT BREWERS pdf, he was too collegial and polite to call out some of his fellow small brewers when he wrote: allow me to so :grinning:.

    Spoetzl Brewing Co. (Shiner brand) is owned by Gambrinus - a company that got its start as one of the two Corona importers in the US covering mostly the eastern portion of the US (they lost that contract in 2006, long after they had purchased Spoetzl, BridgePort and the now-defunct contract-brewed brand Pete's). How are they not " alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer."

    In addition, Spoetzl's flagship is Shiner Bock, an adjunct brewed beer (not too dissimilar in recipe and history from a non-craft beer like Yuengling Lager). Not only is Shiner Bock obviously nothing like a traditional German bock beer, it was long considered one of the lightest and least authentic of the already bastardized "US bock" style (a style, now almost extinct, which was once brewed by probably 80-90% of US breweries in the pre-craft era).

    Anchor Brewing Co. without question the preeminent "craft brewery" in the US, was purchased by the Griffin Group in 2010, the owners of which were best known previously for their promotion of the Skyy Vodka brand. They currently own the spirits import company, Preiss Imports and also the importer/partner of Brewdog. Now, Anchor's history is important to the history of what came to be called (for better or worse) "craft beer", but how is the new ownership not "" alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer." ? Or how does the B.A.'s technicality that disqualifies the contract-brewed Winery Exchange/World Brews being from a company where "Wine business is majority of sales." not apply to Griffin?

    The disqualification of the CBA breweries (Redhook, Widmer, Kona and formerly Goose Island) as "craft" due to the 1/3 partial ownership of that company by AB was duly noted by MillerCoors' Tenth and Blake subsidiary when they bought into Terripin and kept their portion of ownership under 25%. (So, what do you figure it is - 24.9%?)

    Also, note in B.A's pdf that a number of those "non-craft breweries" brew beer FOR "B.A. approved" craft brewers who contract some or all of their production. Sixpoint and Lancaster at The Lion, 21st Amendment at Cold Spring and City/Blues City, (formerly) Boston Beer Company's Samuel Adams at a half dozen of them over the decades (including Miller, NAB/Genesee, Pittsburgh, City-Latrobe on the B.A. list). Schell's itself has contract brewed numerous "craft'" brands including Pete's, once the #2 craft label in the US. So, apparently non-craft breweries CAN and DO brew craft beer. Go figure.

    Maybe the most notorious and best publicized B.A. "definition change" was upping the limit of "small" from a yearly barrelage of 2 million (based on the US TTB's limit for brewers who are pay the reduced Federal Excise Tax on their first 60,000bbl) to 6 million in 2010. Leaving the limit at 2m would have disqualified Boston Beer Co. (longtime B.A. member, whose Jim Koch has served on the Board) as "craft". That, in turn, would have meant a decrease in craft market share for that year, since BBC's production add up to approx. 20% of all "craft beer".

    A previous "stop gap" rule to keep BBC under 2m bbl. and "craft", was to not counting BBC's significant sales of the decidedly non-craft HardCore Cider and Twisted Tea beverages - since "Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition." So, apparently "craft brewers" like BBC, and F.X. Matt (it's AAL Utica Club brand, as well numerous contracts brews and FMB's) CAN brew non-craft beer.
  37. hoeg0015

    hoeg0015 Aspirant (234) Jul 15, 2008 Minnesota

    I hereby nominate Jesskidden to create his own 'craft' definition and guidelines, and determine who qualifies and who doesn't.
    RKPStogie and bergbrew like this.
  38. hoeg0015

    hoeg0015 Aspirant (234) Jul 15, 2008 Minnesota

    Summit's current 'unchained' offering is a Kentucky Common, per the brewery. Classified as a rye beer here.

    Still can't figure out why I can't embed links...arggghh.
  39. klaybie

    klaybie Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2009 Illinois

    NOOO! I love Czechvar (Known as Budvar in it's native land) and Franziskaner. I knew they owned Pilsner Urquell but come on! What's interesting is that there are some German beers I've never had/heard of owned by ABInbev so they must be fairly local (bc I've been all over Germany and heard of/had most major and regional brands). So are there people in Germany, buying locally brewed beer that's owned by ABInbev?
  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,256) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Budvar/Czechvar is on Brookston's list because at the time it was created ABInBev's US importing division, Import Brands Alliance, had the contract to import it into the US (that's what the notation "$ us" means on that site, see "Key" on bottom of list "$ = distribution only"). ABI does not own the brand or brewery.

    Since then, that contract was ended by Budějovický Budvar, n.p. as of July, 2012. See their press release:
    Budweiser Budvar is ending its cooperation with Anheuser-Busch InBev concern

    As noted by BB, Czechvar is now being imported by United States Beverage (but look closely at labels, regardless if one draws their personal "line" at import rights vs. ownership, the ABI imported stuff is also getting old :wink: ).

    Also, the "they" that owns Pilsner Urquell is SABMiller, imported now by MillerCoors' "Tenth & Blake" division.

    ABInBev Deutschland claims it is the #2 brewing company in Germany, with 8.8% of the market, selling 8.9 million hl a year.
    klaybie likes this.
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