What does “craft beer” mean to you?
It is no secret that the craft industry has so many players that are doing so many different things that we should be thankful that there is something resembling a regulatory body. But is it worthwhile if that governing body is a bit. . . thuggish? Bossy? I’m at a loss for the right term here.
The Brewers Association came out with a press release on Thursday announcing some change up of what it means to be a craft brewer – new criteria and announcements of who has fallen off of this list. Most notably (at least for me) is Widmer Brothers and Magic Hat – for either being more than 25% owned by a non-craft entity or due to their import sales exceeding domestic production. There is also the requirement that craft breweries must limit their production to under 6 million barrels a year.
As a result – some really awesome beers can now no longer be designated as “Craft” within the beverage industry. At the same time, some kinda-bullshit near-beers can lay claim to being “craft.” Albeit, the goal of the Brewer’s Association is to have some kind of regulation on the term “craft” and work to protect and promote the industry from macrobrewers who might be interested in profit over product (might, again, I could be wrong here).
So there’s this big hoopla going around right now about what it means to be a “Craft beer brewery” as the Brewer’s Association went ahead and altered what it might mean to be a craft brewery. The BA’s definitions are largely defined in numbers, but is that necessarily the best common denominator? Frankly, I’m not going to stop or start drinking a particular beer because of it’s standing with the BA, and neither should you.
Craft beer and breweries are all about their community. So shouldn’t it be up to the community to determine what is and isn’t worthy. If an organization does need a specific criteria on whether or not a brewery is craft, I can think of two that would would nicely:
1) Does the brewery advertise during major sporting events?
2) Does the brewery produce a “light” version of any of their beverages? In other words, are their consumers more worried about their waistlines rather than the quality/ flavor of the beer they are drinking?
I’ve reached out to the BA flat out asking what it means for a brewery to be considered “craft” and what benefit they stand to gain from it – awaiting their reply.
Here at the Wagon, we want to know what you think. What does “Craft beer/ Brewing” mean to you?