Do you care about independent beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Todd, Jul 8, 2018.


Do you care about independent beer?

  1. No

  2. Yes

  3. IDK what it means

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,608) Aug 23, 1996 California

    For its U.S. members, the Brewers Association defines independent as: "Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member which is not itself a craft brewer."

    Do you care? And feel free to explain why.

    On Twitter?
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  2. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,243) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Personal politics plays into this for me, but the short answer is yes, I seek out independently owned breweries when I buy beer.
  3. JuicesFlowing

    JuicesFlowing Poo-Bah (2,233) Jul 5, 2009 Kansas

    No. At the end of the day, do I like what I drink? On one hand, I’m sick of people bitching about bad local beer, yet that’s all independent. I like small ind. breweries. On the other hand, I’m not a snob, I like a Corona, a Coors, a whatever. I’m not a snob, I drink what I like. Yes I hate corporate takeover but my tastebuds rule my choices, and opinion does not control my tastes. Kind of a shitty, complicated answer but the bottom line is I make my own choices, I wish everyone else did.
  4. flaskman

    flaskman Devotee (458) Aug 3, 2015 New York

    I believe that independent brewers are more creative and innovative. I support them as much as I can.
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  5. zid

    zid Savant (918) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    My idea of "independent" wouldn't line up with the Brewer's Association very narrow use of the term. We're just not speaking the same language and I therefore can't really come down on any side of the fence. If Amazon bought 90% of Allagash, Allagash would still be "independent" in their view. Ditto if AB-InBev bought 24.9% of Allagash instead.

    I understand the need for the BA to draw lines and serve the interests of a select group. That's what they are there for. It was clear that we'd see an evolution of their rhetoric due to the changing landscape of buyouts and beer styles. Do I care about who makes the beer I buy? Yes. But with regards to the term "independent," what we have here is more mythologizing, and I have no interest in buying into it.
  6. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,033) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    I care about beer and will admit to gravitating toward beers from a place still owned by the founders or their descendants especially if it has been in family hands for generations. That's not to say I make it a rule or impose limitations on myself. Nor do I live by the rules of others for that matter.
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  7. larryi86

    larryi86 Poo-Bah (3,255) Apr 4, 2010 Delaware
    Premium Trader

    I prefer to buy beer from independent breweries, but that won’t stop me from buying stuff I like from breweries that aren’t independent. If it is a good beer, I will buy it.
  8. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,117) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Yes and no. I only prefer to not buy from AB InBev because of their unethical practices that are documented, other than that I don't care who owns who.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Chris (@zid) pretty much summarizes my thoughts here. I recognize that the Brewers Association has an agenda here but as a beer consumer I personally do not buy into the specifics of the Brewers Association agenda.

    Perhaps if there was a more 'appropriate' definition in place I might have differing thoughts?

    In the meantime I will choose to drink the beers that I enjoy drinking.

  10. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,276) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    "Big Beer" goes out if it's way to make it harder for "small beer" to get distributed, get shelf space and get tap space; they're also monopolizing ingredients; and intentionally working to confuse consumers about the origins of their beer.

    This seems to be hurting the large, regional independent breweries the hardest -- to the point where some are either selling out to survive or beginning to go under. For now, smaller, direct-to-consumer breweries seem to have found a niche among certain beer drinkers who don't mind spending a lot of time and treasure to drink.

    Whether these small guys are next on the chopping block, who can say? I likewise wonder what's going to happen to some of the more historic German, British and Belgian breweries over time.

    Personally, I care enough to go out if my way to support independent breweries. Do I care enough where I won't buy at all from the bigger guys? Nope. At the end of the day, when you've got chocolate coming from child slaves and energy companies intentionally confusing people about global warming, it's hard for me to get as worked up about wanna be beer monopolies. But that doesn't mean beer lovers shouldn't support independent breweries where they can.
  11. Riff

    Riff Crusader (750) May 12, 2016 Virginia

    Yes and no. For the most part I will support independent breweries, or at least the ones that I am aware of being independent. However, sometimes those breweries do not make a product that meets my needs and in that case I will purchase from "big" beer. I, in part, make that exception because of breweries like Founders who are not independent.
    GreenBayBA and 2beerdogs like this.
  12. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,588) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Of course I care about independent breweries, the same way I care about all independent businesses. Why take my car to Midas when there's a better shop, owned by someone I see around town, just down the street.

    Why give my money to Heineken, when there are several breweries down the street, who make equal, and usually better beer?
  13. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,276) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Cloudwater's list of Heineken's' crimes is more severe than any charges I've heard leveled against AB InBev...

    What's your take on a more appropriate definition?
    2beerdogs likes this.
  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,713) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I posted my comment as a question:

    Perhaps if there was a more 'appropriate' definition in place I might have differing thoughts?

    If I put on my 'thinking cap' I could likely come up with a better definition than the Brewers Association's definition. Instead I am going to turn on the TV and watch the Phillies game as I drink an 'independently' brewed (i.e., homebrewed) Classic American Pilsner.:slight_smile:

  15. zid

    zid Savant (918) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Your question was aimed at @JackHorzempa , but since he was agreeing with me, I'll chime in. It's not that I think that the BA's definition is lacking and in need of tweeking, I just don't think it's possible to actually define this as a black or white concept. It's more of a fundamental issue than an issue about the details. I'm sympathetic to the BA's need for making it this or that, but it doesn't mean that I have to subscribe to their mindset. This also doesn't mean that I want to put the blinders on and ignore any of the issues that you brought up as mattering to you in a previous post.
  16. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,390) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    I support my local guys but I also drink what I enjoy. If I want some day old IPA from my local guy I snag it. Tomorrow if I want to sip Miller Light in the pool I do. Honestly everything has its place in life so I won't be so hard core as to limit myself. I think the key is having a mix on the topic, nothing wrong with supporting local business but you should never feel bad about drinking from the big guys. I had many a good time in life kicking back the big boys beer with friends.

  17. LuskusDelph

    LuskusDelph Aspirant (246) May 1, 2008 New Jersey

    It's great that you have that option.
    I continue to buy what I like...and a focus on "local" breweries is at the bottom of my list of prioritiies.
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  18. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,588) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    I too, buy what I like. And, what I like is supporting those who support me. I work for independent businesses, and support others in kind.
  19. Shanex

    Shanex Champion (855) Dec 10, 2015 France

    I can see your point and why you’d fall for the « screw the big corporations » thing.

    However and more than once I meant well to purchase very local and very pricey beers. We are talking here 6€ for two 330ml bottle.

    They were crap, sorry. I know it varies a lot regarding the brewer and stuff but for 6€ these days I can get either 4 bottle of Duvel or 2 SNPA or Hop Hunter.

    I’m all for supporting the small guys and business when they will start for most of them to lower their price tag and make better beer.
  20. TheGent

    TheGent Meyvn (1,394) Jun 29, 2010 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    I do not care about the ownership interest in the company that brewed the beer I’m drinking , unless I have reason to care. There are currently no beers I can think of that I’d stop drinking based solely on the ownership structure.

    I would say that quality and consistency are the two most important factors. I also care about a brewery’s approach to making beer. I’m attracted to breweries that have a mission, a philosophy, or whatever you may want to call it. When they come out with a beer, I understand why they made it and their intent. Most breweries don’t fall into this category, and the only two that immediately come to mind for me are DFH and Carton. These qualities are the result of strong leadership, and that attracts me as a consumer. I’m sure there are others out there.

    If the ownership and lack of independence impact these elements I care about then the answer to the question is yes.
    #20 TheGent, Jul 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  21. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,278) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I try to support hard working, nice people that are business owners the best I can, if I like their product. Brewers, restaurant owners, shop owners etc. They don't have to be the best, just good to get my support.
  22. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,634) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    No, I don't really care. I buy what I want from whoever is brewing good beer. I don't get caught up in the politics of this stuff, it's just beer.
  23. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,686) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

    No, I drink what I like, don’t care from who
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  24. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,608) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    I voted yes, I care about it, I wish them well and will support the when they make good beer. On my one day downtown every week, I am going to go to an independent brewery and drink from their taproom, I mainly do it because in my mind they are one of the best breweries in town with a diverse taplist. What I buy in cans/bottles for the house, is usually what I think is the best of that style that I can get my hands on.
    Right now I have the Southern Hemisphere pack from SN in my fridge, mainly because I like them doing this. Even though these are probably not the best IPA's out there, I want to support what they are doing, and also try these hops to see if I like them.
    I always have Sumpin Easy in my fridge, mainstay. I have either Pilz or Gold from Live Oak always in the fridge, or Pilsner Urquell. So yeah I guess I support Local/Independent when they make good beer, but ultimately I am going to drink what I like. Fortunately our paths cross a majority of the time.
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  25. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Poo-Bah (1,924) Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Premium Trader

    Yes, I do care about independent beer. Independence leads to innovation and diversity and away from the least common denominator.

    This said, it is certainly possible for a collective ownership to grant individual creativity to the breweries they collect. Given the relatively recent past, and questionable current activities, a healthy skepticism is prudent here. As marketshare diminishes and profit margins tighten shareholder responsibilities may quickly overshadow a sincere desire to diversify one’s portfolio with small, unique breweries.

    There is also an argument that Macro Beer helps keep Craft Beer more affordable for the consumers. The entire supply chain (farmers to shelf space) benefits from the efficiency of bulk purchasing and distribution. Farming and malting benefit, in particular, as bulk purchasing allows for futures contracts, thus providing security and the margins to risk innovation, which in turn provides more options for brewers.

    What I purchase is a slightly different, yet strongly relevant question. So long as Macro Beer conducts business fairly and with integrity, I have no qualms with purchasing whatever I enjoy, regardless of who owns the business.
    #25 SLeffler27, Jul 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
  26. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,002) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Premium Trader

    No. I buy what I want. Definitions don't mean anything anyway, especially when Minhas is considered a "craft brewery" and Founders isn't.
  27. JamFuel

    JamFuel Poo-Bah (2,901) Mar 26, 2009 Sweden

    Yes. I just don’t want my money to go to a company like Inbev or Heineken, when I can as easily find as much beer brewed independently as I could ever try. I’m not arrogant enough to think I actually make a difference to either company in the greater scheme of things, but it makes me feel better.
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  28. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,107) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Trader

    While I'd like to see the underdog small guys make it, they need to make it on the merit of their product and their business acumen, not on sales to folks that are willing to drink lesser beers just to give the independent a leg-up. Sorry, but I won't pass up a non-independent-made outstanding beer just to support the independent who has an OKish competing brew.
  29. Sweatshirt

    Sweatshirt Disciple (320) Jan 27, 2014 New Hampshire

    No. I don't care how the BA defines terms to fit thier narrative, words have meanings. So many breweries are getting a bunch of P.E. money that they don't want to speak upon. "Independent" is a ad copy phrase at this point meaning no more than not Miller, Bud, or Coors or owned by them.

    Almost noone is independent. If you got money from Dad to start your brewery you are and were dependent. If you crowdsource you couldn't do it on your own either.

    The way craft beer likes to use independent has caused it to lose it's actual definition and become meaningless and only something people with their heads in the sand care about.

    Make good beer. Stop trying to make craft a cause or a war cry. It looks needy and sad.
  30. peteboiler

    peteboiler Initiate (137) Dec 16, 2010 Florida

    I feel pretty much 100% the same.
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  31. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (250) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I care more about how the beer tastes in my mouth than what percentage they are owned by a corporation. Beer isn’t my step stool to stand up against dirty corporations.
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  32. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (157) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Premium Trader

    Unfortunately, where I live, most of the "crafty" beer is owned by a larger conglomerate, and since a half hour drive across town whenever I get the urge is not economically feasible, I make due with what's available.

    A lot of people say "creativity" and "innovation", but are those the most important things at the end of the day? My own journey started with imports, so I may be a bit biased. If they were in better condition by the time they arrived in my small town, no doubt I'd be stocked up.
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  33. jrnyc

    jrnyc Meyvn (1,319) Mar 21, 2010 New York
    Premium Trader

    At the risk of being a hypocrite since I love Bourbon County Brand Stout, I absolutely care, the big boys would like nothing better to stifle free market competition with their dirty tactics which would harm the little guys and limit our choices.
  34. mkh012

    mkh012 Zealot (544) May 7, 2015 New Jersey

    To an extent. It's certainly disheartening when a good brewery is bought out and suddenly the quality goes down. I've also noticed that, for the most part, good independent brewers brew more "wow" beers than the breweries that are cranking out thousands of cans for national distro.

    I'm not over buying a Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout or Goose Island Sofie sometimes, but I generally stick to the small guys mainly because I like their beers more.
  35. ovaltine

    ovaltine Poo-Bah (2,302) Apr 6, 2010 Indiana
    Premium Trader

    In a vacuum, yes, I appreciate independent beer more and support local brewers almost exclusively. I'm a big believer in #DrinkLocal, and I think we've seen the national beer market migrate to that model, to the detriment of "big beer" but also to the detriment of regional "independent" breweries like Sierra Nevada, Stone, Green Flash, Smuttynose, etc etc etc.

    But if someone offered me a bottle of BCBS Prop at face value, would I turn it down?

  36. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,276) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    There's definitely a lack of clarity about what everyone is talking about here. To me, "independence" doesn't mean you're not indebted or otherwise responsible to anyone. It means you're not actively trying to squash other breweries' businesses.
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  37. Sweatshirt

    Sweatshirt Disciple (320) Jan 27, 2014 New Hampshire

    That's fine except that's not what the word means. If you want to support businesses that adhere to your Just don't use the word independent to define it.
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  38. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,276) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    I'm not sure there's any independent brewery by your definition -- other than maybe an ultra nanobrewery or home brewing. I do think you raise a real issue here: that insofar as this is meant as a marketing term, a lot of people don't get or buy into the "independent" label.
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  39. Junior

    Junior Disciple (333) May 23, 2015 Michigan

    I care about independent. I am far more likely to purchase from an independent brewery. It has been my experience that there aren not many non-independent beers that I find to be better than what I can find from an independent brewer.

    I do make few exceptions. One is Founders. I still view them as an independent craft brewer, even though they do not meet the Brewers Association definition. Another is BCBS. When I see it I buy it. I have only seen it in bottles in 2016.

    I try to be an informed consumer. I also tend to eat at local restaurants and support other local business as much as possible.
    pjbear05, Troutbeerbum and beertunes like this.
  40. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,117) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Yes and no. Realistically I would chose to support independent over corporate but the whole 25% ownership thing rubs me the wrong way. I know they put that number in so a few larger breweries can remain under the 'independent unbrella.'

    So I would like to support them but the whole title means nothing, I would support it more if any % corporate/bank/investor would make them un-independent rather than an arbitrary number.
    smbslt and RobNewton like this.