If you keep up with beer news and press releases, you might have heard about the one sent about by the Brewers Assocation, criticizing multinational brewers for making what they defined as “craft-like” beers. It was the cause of a lot of social media debate, as well as blog posts and such.
As you can probably infer, not everyone was a fan of this tactic. I wasn’t, either.
There isn’t a lot I can say that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll keep this brief.
The Brewers Association is basically becoming the American version of CAMRA, the UK trade organization that promotes cask ale. Both are absolutely vital to the promotion and growth of good beer, yet both are making foolish missteps in actually doing so. People seem to forget that the Brewers Association works on behalf of breweries. They, just like the multinational breweries, are trying to sell you something. The term “craft beer” is not standardized. You won’t find it in Webster’s Dictionary. It’s a marketing term, created by a trade organization to promote and sell the product that it is obligated to promote and sell.
But this arbitrary line in the sand is pure rubbish. A trade organization doesn’t get to dictate to consumers what is craft and what isn’t. We, the people who pay for everything, get to decide. So when the BA tells me that respectable and traditional brewers such as Yuengling and August Schell aren’t “craft” because some of their recipes use corn, it’s transparently ridiculous. Don’t fall for this crap. I’m all for the supporting of small, good brewers, but don’t feel an ounce of guilt because you happen to enjoy a Goose Island IPA or a Red Hook ESB. This “craft” definition is created by a small body of individuals, and its definition is meaningless outside the people who created it to serve their interests. Good beer is good beer no matter what label you put on it.
- The Captain