Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 30

Thread: Craft Brewer Definitions and the BA

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    Posts
    14

    Craft Brewer Definitions and the BA

    Hey all,

    I've been reading around here for some time, and just recently joined up. This would be my first post. So, howdy! A little background here: I'm a writer and graphic designer (and I do a fair amount of marketing consulting work). One of my primary areas of focus is hospitality and alcoholic beverages. I was hoping to get a little insight from you guys, if you don't mind...

    I'm working on a piece right now about the definition of craft beer, focusing on the seeming split between the two camps:
    • Those who feel "craft" = love/passion for beer, and ownership is irrelevant
    • Those who feel "craft" = independent, not corporate


    I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the following:
    • What do you think of the Brewers Association definition? [You can read it here.] Do you feel it is reasonable, and why or why not?
    • How do you reconcile "passion" with "business?" That is, do you find the two conflict, and where is that crossroads?
    • I hear "it should be all about the beer—the beer should come first" an awful lot (from consumers and critics, mostly), but as a business owner (and commercial artist) myself I am inclined to argue that making it about the beer at the expense of the business results in no beer. What do you think?


    Thanks for any input, thoughts, comments, rants you might offer. As a former bartender and current beer lover, I've found this forum to be immensely informative, and I look forward to participating more. I hope you don't mind a non-pro brewer in your midst!

    —Jess

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    Posts
    14
    No one here has any opinions?

    Does anyone here actually belong to the Brewers Association?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Tulalip, WA, USA
    Posts
    39

    Reality check

    Jess, your reality check has bounced.

    RE: Passion. If I was not passionate about my product (beer) I would not be in business.

    RE: It's all about the beer. If not for the beer I would not be in business.

    Bizness, shmizness. Business is not the goal, business is the means to the goal: The endless supply of the best beer I can make.

    RE: BA definitions. Who is the BA? ;-) And why should I care about their definitions? I brew what I like and other people like it just fine and buy it and drink it, whatever you want to call it.

    Remember a few things: Language is a toy, and language interferes with communication.

    Steffan Gay
    Steffan's Aldergrove Brewery

    p.s. Too many of us brewers are too busy making and selling beer to bother with silly little quibles over the meaning of words.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Nashville
    Posts
    688
    I think this subject has been covered thoroughly in such periodicals as the New Brewer, American Brewer, Ale Street News, and such, and that is why you aren't getting much response. I think definitions and categories only hold us back. "Craft" is a communication to the consumer that what they are purchasing is of high quality. If they disagree they will quit purchasing that beer or that coffee and the company will quickly go out of business.
    Linus Hall
    Yazoo Brewing
    Nashville, TN
    [url]www.yazoobrew.com[/url]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Rapperswil, Switzerland
    Posts
    58
    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstock
    [*] What do you think of the Brewers Association definition? [You can read it here.] Do you feel it is reasonable, and why or why not?
    [*] How do you reconcile "passion" with "business?" That is, do you find the two conflict, and where is that crossroads?
    Hi
    In Switzerland brewers lean to and are heavily influenced by the Reinheitsgebot from neighbouring Bavaria. However swiss brewers are not required by law to conform - so there is a choice.
    Personally I try to conform to the point where my creativity as a brewer is not undermined.
    To this point I prefer the BA definition of craft brewing, which is for me an acceptable and intelligent guidline. The uses of adjuncts, sugars, finings and where necessary, enymes are not allowed within the Reinheitsgebot but are permitted in craft brewing as long as the beer is not "lightened".
    I think the point is, that such ingredients should not be used indescriminately and where possible time and trouble should be taken to produce beer that is itself a craft - or a handiwork.
    There is room for interpretation of course and that is the temptation arises to compromise the passion to business needs, increasing capacity , saving time or simply cheating.
    In any case, I need this personal guidline to which I try hard to adhere. It is a matter of personal pride really. I have occasionally brewed beers of which I was not especially proud of and the passion for these disapeared very quickly.

    But your question is a good one Jess, the beer business is a hard one and brewers are under constant pressure to cut corners. I support the BA definition. Variations in beer styles are permitted with judicious use of varying ingredients combined with hard work and craft.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    814
    Craft beer. To me, having brewed professionally for more than twenty years now, craft beer has little or nothing to do with the size of the brewery. However, it has been my experience that larger brewers are the first to turn to various and sundry tools that most (not all) small brewers wouldn't even allow in their breweries.

    Crap, I call it. To name a few:

    1/ Non-mash sources of enzymes - not limited to the following: alpha-acetolactate decarboxylase, amylase, glucamylase, glucanase, pentosanase, protease, ficin, bromalain, papain, pepsin,
    2/ Preservatives and antioxidants - sulphites (often piggybacking its way via gelatin and/or isinglass finings - snot, I call it), ascorbates, erythorbates, etc. (and chelating agents like EDTA - ethylene diamine tetra-acetate - to make the ascorbate function as an antioxidant as opposed to an oxidant in its absence)
    3/ Foam enhancers - Alginates - other than Irish Moss
    4/ Viscosity enhancers - non-mash sources of dextrins, methylcellulose,
    5/ Hop extracts containing traces of solvents like methylene chloride or hexane
    6/ Non fermentable sources of colour - Caramel, tannins
    7/ Other processing aids - dimethylpolysiloxane, hydrogen peroxide, Acacia gum/gum Arabic, yeast food(s), clouding agents, synthetic fruit essences etc.

    Interesting that many consumers love to talk about this aspect of craft beer but many brewers don't.

    Also, the need to have an all malt product kind of sticks in my throat. To me it's a little like telling a baker he/she can only make white bread. For instance, no legitimate Irish stout is 'all-malt'. By definition, there must be a significant portion of roasted barley (unmalted) in the mash. I've had many excellent craft brewed, stylistically accurate stouts in my time.

    Other practices like high gravity brewing/fermenting, blending, pasteurization could also be debated when defining ' craft' beer. That being said, many of the finest beers I've ever had have been pasteurized.

    Beer is an elegantly simple thing. Generally, perhaps over-generalizing here, large brewers corrupt its inherent simplicity, craft brewers embrace it.

    My two cents.

    Pax.

    Liam

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    Posts
    14

    Thanks all

    Thanks to all for your responses...

    @Steffan: Your comments about my sense of reality aside, you'll see that my original post referenced two schools of thought, which—whether you only agree with one of them or not—do exist. I took neither side myself (the only opinion I included was that passion at the expense of sound business would lead to a failed business). Thanks for letting me know what camp you fall into, but I was looking for the reasons why you feel that way, and how you reconcile passion with profits. I'd still be interested to know, particularly given that you clearly put the beer before the business.

    @lhall: I agree that this has been much discussed, but I still don't see any consensus on the issue. Industry orgs like BA exist to try and create/protect the market for craft beer, and their definitions will inevitably impact how they go about trying to influence public policy (and, therefore, each individual brewer's own business). Don't you think it's worth hashing it out? Or do you feel it's just such an impossible task that it's not worth discussing?

    As for the other comments, I think your points about the purity or simplicity of beer are incredibly important. Liam, do you think that the additives you referred to should disqualify one as a craft beer, or should everyone make what they want and let the consumer decide?

    I mean, ultimately, pro brewers (as opposed to home brewers) have to ackowldege that they are operating within a larger marketplace—one that is totally dominated by the likes of B/M/C. (Ah, I suppose you don't have to...!) Doesn't it make sense to try and identify how your products are different from theirs? Isn't that, after all, the big selling point and what ensures you stay in business?

    And what happens when trade orgs like BA or the Beer Institute lobby Congress and local gov'ts for particular regulations? Don't you have a stake in how those orgs define your product?

    I'm not trying to make these questions antagonistic in any way, but I do think they're worth asking at the risk of pissing off those who only brew out of passion. I mean, if profits didn't play a role, wouldn't passionate brewers just be brewing at home? And maybe there are other questions I'm missing that would better frame the discussion.

    —J.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    814
    I don't think it's just about passion.

    I think, (for what it's worth) that it would be helpful for small brewers everywhere to define themselves in terms of ingredients.

    Vegetarian/organic/local/vintners/bakers/cheesemongers etc., etc. have done it to great success in many geographic locations for many different products, Why not North American brewers? Because our governing organization has a different set of motivations. Self preservation and lack of imagination.

    I have known many brewers around the world that exist for their beer. Been around for a decade or more, produce truly world class beers and haven't paid themselves or their shareholders for years. Why?, you might ask , can someone run a business this way? I don't know. I know I love my life. I don't know, at this age, if I could do anything else/better/more enjoyable.

    Imagine a world where every consumer product that you put into your mouth to the tune of 80+kg per year is defined by its ingredients.

    Everything from cigarettes to fast food would be so much easier to quantify, measure, enjoy sans guilt.

    One day.

    One day soon, I hope, for the sake of my 9 year-old daughter, if not for selfish reasons, we will easily undertake these kinds of decisions related (at least) to the everyday commodities/staples of our lives. Like beer.

    I do think that craft brewers should define themselves in terms of ingredients.

    The Canadian/socialist/enlightened capitalist in me thinks: given the success of various food product marketing organizations worldwide (vegetarian/vegan/organic etc.) , it seems it can only be a good thing to draw a hard line in the sand between 'us' and 'them'.

    If that pisses 'them' or even certain producers/distributors/agents amongst 'us' off, so be it.

    It's snowing in Newfoundland.

    I'm off to bed.

    Pax.

    Liam

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    Posts
    14

    Thanks, Liam

    Liam, thanks for your incredibly thoughtful responses. I appreciate your stance, though it would seem to me to be incredibly difficult to reach a consensus on what those definitions should be. Didn't the Reinheitsgebot do just that? Was it/is it successful? (No, I'm not opening that can of worms.) You've given me a lot of food for thought, so to speak.


    Thanks,
    J.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Stavanger Norway
    Posts
    320
    As a brewer I love beer and beer always comes first...

    that said I am also human, and its not that Im in brewing for the money I know this because I gave up a great buisness which would have made me more for the same hard work. Its also about money If I find a better job with more pay and more potential I'll take it, as long as it involves making good beer.

    Beer first but money is like air and I like to take the biggest breath I can, followed by a good tasting beer...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Rapperswil, Switzerland
    Posts
    58

    Craft brewing, who defines it?

    Of course the consumer is important but I don't think it is the consumer's reponsibility to define craft brewing.The consumer wants to be able to trust a clear definition and then decide. The consumer's decision ultimately decides the success of the definition. BUT beware of misleading the consumer.

    In this sense the Reinheitsgebot is definitely a success. Many consumers decide for a beer because it is brewed accordingly. Would the decision be made only according to taste most consumers could not differ between beers conforming or not conforming to the Reinheitsgebot. The consumers trust the definition, rightly so. It is a quality label for them.

    The craft brewing label has to be simple enough to be communicated and trusted. It can only be trusted when "craft brewers" agree to the definition and adhere to it .
    I agree with Liam, the ingredients are very important and a simple way of making a definition. I also agree, the "crap" mentioned above does not belong in a craft beer. The crap is added for one reason - to make more profits and not to make better beer. The consumers will decide for the crappy beer at the far end of the shelf life, which is easier for the brewer but not better for the consumer. Only trouble is the consumer doesn't know it.

    Crap increases profits, without profits there is no more passion so of course profits are important. But it IS possible to make profits without crap.
    Last edited by aswissbrewer; 04-05-2007 at 01:07 PM. Reason: spelling

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    814
    For Swiss brewer, if you ever find yourself in St. John's, Newfoundland, look me up at Yellow Belly Brewery. I think we'd get on quite well. At least for a few pints. Ha!

    Seriously, though. I look at the Reinheitsgebot as a restriction on craft producers. It's limiting by the need for malted cereals primarily. That being said, it has been quite successful, historically, as a consumer protection law and more recently, as a tax law to protect domestic industry against market flooding by cheap imports. I suppose, like everything in this life, there are positives and negatives involved always.

    Crap does indeed increase profits. But, really now. At what cost?

    My opinion is that if you're going to use crap and define yourself as a craft brewer, put your money where your mouth is. List your ingredients on your label.

    Consider it the Scots-Canadian Challenge. Dare to be an asshole like me.

    I can honestly say, (aside from a brief stint at Sleeman's) that I've never been involved in the production of a product with any crap in it.

    I've won a lot of awards in the last twenty years and have trained many an accomplished brewer.

    Roughsock:

    I appreciate your stimulation of this discussion.

    I think if all producers of everything (not just beer) were required to list all their ingredients, consumers could truly drive the bus and speak with their dollars.

    I DO think the use of crap should disqualify you as a craft brewer. It would be easy to govern. The use/presence of all of those things mentioned in an earlier post of mine is easy to detect.

    If your average industrial brewer were forced to declare their ingredients on their bottle, their 1-800 numbers would be ringing off the hook with consumer inquiries.

    While it would be nice, it will never happen. Their machine is bigger than ours. Although 60 million Germans can't be wrong! Ha!

    An analogy I like to use is ice cream. When you look at the label of your average ice cream, it appears completely indigestible.

    When you look at the label of a higher end brand like Hagen Daaz (no plug intended), the ingredients are simple (milk, cream, eggs, vanilla). No carageenan or carboxy methyl cellulose, or polysorbate 80 or non-fat dairy solids (which part of the cow does that come from?). The Hagen Daaz is four times the price for 1/4 the volume (not necessarily weight as most commercial ice creams are 'pumped up' with nitrogen), but I'm happy to pay the premium.

    Well made beer does not command that sort of premium. Why? I don't know. Perhaps because it's not a luxury good but a staple.

    It deserves to be protected as such.

    Pax.

    Liam
    Last edited by liammckenna; 04-05-2007 at 04:12 PM. Reason: crap typing abilities

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    186
    Liam...Loved the rant about additives. Everyone has made some excellent points, IMHO.

    OK. my turn. Let me preface this by saying it's not my intent to minimize anyone's opinions. These are simply my thoughts on passion vs. business. I will present this in tow sub-headings. This will be long, so you might want to grab a beer. Steffan has made a profound statement that triggered my response, "language is a toy, and (it) gets in the way of communication." (I love semiotic phenomenology).

    We are at the mercy of the almighty dollar.
    Twelve years ago, I decided to follow my "passion" and pursue a career as a chef. Sure I knew the money stunk, the hours were long, and my Saturday's off were history. But I did it anyway. My exposure to food (and the fact that my grandfather worked for Schaffer, in Brooklyn) fueled my passion to delve into home brewing. Then I fell "passionately" in love with a woman, married her and had a child. We outgrew our apartment which led to my "passion" to follow the American dream and buy a home. Long story short, I took over a small restaurant brewery to supplement my income. The equation was quite simple; necessity + ambition + circumstance = current situation. I enjoyed being a brewer but I enjoyed it a whole lot more when I did it on my terms at my leisure. 60% of my job is cleaning/maintnence/transfering, 20% is paperwork and analysis, and what's left of it is spent brewing beer. This is the reality of our industry. Am I passionate about doing these things? I am not passionate about doing paperwork or managing a budget to make profits, but I will say this with certainty, I perform well at both my jobs because I have to. I do it because I can do it right. My family depends on it. I take an awful lot of pride in my work because I feel people deserve the best for their money, because the owner has entrusted me with his investment and because I feel blessed to have my job. I just don't understand this need to talk about passion in the workplace. It should be reflected in our work. If passion needs to be explained it is probably not evident in the final product. Many of us are not in a financial position to simply become brewers to "serve humanity" and "preserve a dying art." If it happens, it's a result of the above equation. Passion is a strong or extravagant fondness or enthusiasm for something. The very word is derived from Christ's suffering on the cross, an adaptation of the Latin word passus, which means to suffer, to sacrifice. We really overused and bastardized this word. Some of us talk as if we do this entirely out of love, but the dirty little secret is (no matter how menial it may be) we all receive some sort of compensation for doing what we do. We have to. That's life. It's seems as if some craft brewers are afraid to admit they receive a paycheck every week. Don't listen to what we say, but instead examine what we do when "the audience" has their back to us. Read some other threads. The one about lagering time is a great example of this debate.
    Am I a passionate brewer, or just a business man? To be passionate means to suffer and sacrifice. I sacrifice my time and energy to earn money so my family and home can prevail. My family suffers because I work long hours to produce good beer and desserts (remember, I'm still a full time chef), and the beer and desserts prevail. What sets me apart from the other guys? I don't know. The brewer two towns over is a self proclaimed artist. He brews with "passion" and "love" and whatever other buzz words he can conjour up, and yet...somehow...in the end, we wind up with an identical product. Go figure. If the end result is good, it should be evident that passion is occurring on some level, somewhere. At least that's how I sees it.

    Romance and The land of make believe.

    Why don't you write an article about accountants, or podiatrists, or data analysts and their passion vs. profits? Why don't those people have big glass windows so you can see what's going on inside the office? What makes us more interesting then them?
    When the podiatrist hangs up his coat at the end of the day, unless he has some bizarre creepy foot fetish, he's not going home to study the foot. When the accountant takes off his tie, he's probably not trying to think about numbers. Instead, like most Americans, he's slipping into the Land of make believe. Maybe he's putting on his little shorts, getting on his bike and pretending he's Lance Armstrong. Maybe he's cutting vegetables, and pretending he is Emeril, or maybe he's busting out his cooler and converted keg and playing brewery tonight. Who knows? One thing is for sure, I'm not playing accountant when I get home. I (when I have time) strap on my guitar and play rock star. I used to play brewery, but since I got the job, the equipment has collected quite a bit of dust. As long as I've been married, my wife has complained about our lack of good kitchen utensils. She thinks it's ironic since I work in a kitchen. My point is, no matter what we do, we always want to do something else to escape reality. Brewing has become (and is still growing) one of those things. There is a romance associated with the whole thing. People need to believe that what we do is so much more than it is. This is how they live out their fantasy vicariously through us. Then a romantic language is created. It's usually customers and friends that tell me I'm so passionate about what I do. Where are they hearing this stuff? I'm not telling them anything like that. This opens the door for us to spew out whatever b.s. we want to keep the game going.

    In the end, what we do is still a job. There are people who will tell you what you want to hear, but it is what it is. Most people are willing to adjust their views and philosophies based on their situations. I know a guy who owned a 10Bbl brewhouse. Swore he would never buy a bottled beer again. Drinking locally meant in a brew pub to him. Bottled beer suffers! Once he got a bottling line and expanded his brewery, he adjusted his standards accordingly. People love to draw lines in the sand because, well they can be smoothed out and moved wherever they please. This is why I agree with Liam's idea. Let's standardize this stuff. We've already established our philosophy, now let's create some accountability.

    Because we are craftsmen and women, we do operate on a certain level of community. Probrewer.com, for example. We are in a sense, a corperation. We have developed a brand identity, we have defined ourselves as craft brewers, and we seem to be generating a decent amount of hype. We got the big boy's attention. A.B. is making sure they are getting their big piece of the pie. They release seasonal beers with quirky names, and sell them under the guise of "microbrewery." The sales reps (I actually saw this happen) insist that bar managers not get too specific about where the beer came from. "Just tell them it's from a small brewery in Wisconsin," they say. It's deplurable! We also excel as an industry by creating our own competition. One brewer stumbles upon something extraordinary, and passes it on to others, in hopes to continue pioneering other new ideas. It seems ok to create our own competition, so long as we remain little Davids going up against Goliath, but that's another story for another time.

    Jay
    Last edited by mr.jay; 04-09-2007 at 09:01 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    Posts
    14
    Jay, your post had many, many details I'd like to respond to and I'll try to do so in a way that makes sense. But first let me say that this is exactly the conversation I'd hoped for—lots of viewpoints and strong feelings.


    60% of my job is cleaning/maintnence/transfering, 20% is paperwork and analysis, and what's left of it is spent brewing beer. This is the reality of our industry.
    This was, in a sense, what triggered my original series of questions. From a strictly practical perspective, "passion" (with apologies to the etymology of the word) doesn't the pay the bills. That said, I also think that some businesspeople find a way to incorporate their passion into their business framework. For example, I consider "sustainability" and all the philosophical issues that it entails to be one of my "passions." I am in the process of making changes in my business plan, my studio's workflow, etc. to incorporate these principles into my business—my hope is that by doing so, I will actually strengthen my business and make it more successful. Applying this to a brewery context—and to Liam's comments—some brewers may feel that brewing beer according to a traditional, craft set of values may be their passion, and therefore they incorporate those into their business plan—by refusing to use additives, by choosing quality over quantity, etc.

    My original set of questions was trying to get at this dichotomy—how do you, as a brewer, remain true to your values (i.e. passion) and remain a viable, profitable business? Do you market yourself as a "true craft brewer" to set you apart from those that include adjuncts? Do you design a marketing campaign around this particular identity? Do you join the Brewers Association and work with them to lobby state and fed gov'ts? Where does the rubber hit the road? Can it be done successfully at all? I'm going to ask more questions in response to your discussion about the pro brewing community...below...


    Why don't you write an article about accountants, or podiatrists, or data analysts and their passion vs. profits? Why don't those people have big glass windows so you can see what's going on inside the office? What makes us more interesting then them?
    One simple reason: I get paid mostly for writing about alcoholic beverages (and feet creep me out). But to make it more interesting, I also write about hospitality management, accounting, training, and all those other non-romantic pieces.

    Beer is inherently more interesting than data analysis (eh, to me). However, as you point out, the business behind both is quite similar (generally speaking, of course). I suppose if I knew much about podiatry, I could find a controversial debate raging in that field about whether to treat a bone spur with surgery versus drugs, or whathaveyou (see, this is why I don't write an article about podiatry!). But I don't—I know beer to a much better degree, so that is my focus. And I also feel strongly that the craft beer market in the U.S. is on the cusp of something big, and I also feel strongly that the success of a given industry is rarely driven strictly by consumer demand—it must also be driven by unified, cohesive industry groups who have a vision for their future and take active steps to realize that vision. No single brewery operates in a vaccuum—your business is impacted by that guy two towns over as well as by what A-B is doing, and I think it's dangerous to pretend that the only thing impacting your success is that 60/20/40 split of your time (ack, that's not intended to sound nasty). The market counts. A lot. Which is what I want to write about, because—like you—I hear a lot of talk from both brewers and consumers about "passion" and love for the product at the expense of all else, and I can't help but think that is a recipe for a failed industry.

    I do believe—and I may be naive, or simply ignorant to the nuances and intricacies of the brewing business—that if American craft brewers don't come together as a whole (whether it's in the form of something like the BA or something else altogether) and create a common definition of craft beer, and then do something with that definition, then you will see the same thing happen to craft beer that happened after the last wave—the market will deflate as consumers start buying A-B's pseudo-organic, or pseudo-craft beers thinking they are supporting the very market they are killing. I really want to see a long-term vision driven by a confluence of passion and business sense. And I want to know what you guys think of that notion—is it ridiculous? Are "real" independent carft brewers too much of a maverick class to be able to successfully band together like that? Or are they doing it already via trade orgs? Or am I asking the wrong questions?

    Let's standardize this stuff. We've already established our philosophy, now let's create some accountability.
    But I would argue that you haven't established the philosophy. If the philosophy is "good beer," that is just too vague. Every adjunct-user and their brother claims they produce "good beer made with passion for the craft." Accountability must come after the definition, yes? But the definition is up for grabs. Which is why I asked about your opinions on the BA's definition:

    http://www.beertown.org/ba/about.html

    Their definition excludes breweries like Goose Island, Hill Craft Beer, Old Dominion, etc. (because of the 25% ownership rule). Is that appropriate? I know the brewers at these places probably think it's absurd that they are no longer "craft" (at least GI has been vocal about it). Definitions still need to be agreed upon. Of course, you'll never have complete consensus, but what might constitute "acceptable" consensus?

    We have developed a brand identity, we have defined ourselves as craft brewers, and we seem to be generating a decent amount of hype. We got the big boy's attention. A.B. is making sure they are getting their big piece of the pie.

    Totally agree. I also think that A-B can make it very hard for you to hold on to the pieces of the pie you've baked. The craft-anything trend, organic trend, flavor trend, etc are all on the rise (and, I suspect, will end up a fact of life eventually) and I really think craft brewers—who helped CREATE the trend and feed it—are in a precarious position of being squeezed by the likes of A-B et al. Not trying to be an alarmist—and I know many will argue that "we've been fighting A-B all along, we'll be just fine."

    I just can't help but wonder if that's true. Perhaps it's my cynical nature, but if you look at every other market where this sort of thing has occurred—organics, for example—you see the Big Boys swallowing up the little guys, generally convincing the public that they are, in fact, the little guys. So the little guys need to band together and project their collective voice, reminding the market what the truth is.

    Whew, I'm romanticizing it again, aren't I? But I don't know...from a long-term business perspective, I think these are the questions that need to be asked.

    Sorry for the novel....and thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone. I've found it really enlightening.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Tulalip, WA, USA
    Posts
    39

    OMG, what a thread!

    This discussion has turned into something very fascinating. I had originally thought it was pointless. Boy, was I wrong!

    As far as the Reinheitsgebot, wasn't it an old form of Luditism? It stifled variety and innovation by limiting what materials could be used. It was a top-down approach to what the Bavarian government perceived as a threat, right?

    I fear the nazification of the brewing industry. It can start as simply and innocuously as pinning down a definition, like "craft". A war of words and a war over their meanings. Then who is left out in the cold? How about a painfully small brewery that just happens to use fish-guts to clarify their beer? Vegans would freak if they knew their favorite beer had been clarified with isinglass. Would that make it any less "craft"? Do we have to start labelling our beer with "No animals were harmed in the manufacturing of this product"? Another example: How about a "pre-prohibition" or "classic American" light Lager, revived by a fine homebrewer, Jeff Renner? We would call it non-"craft" because it uses adjuncts like corn and/or rice to lighted the body and color, which are essential for this classic style. Now some folks are starting to use alternative grains to make beverages for those with gluten intolerance. No malted barley there, therefore neither "craft" nor "beer"? Maybe some brewer somewhere in America is using only malted barley, hops, water (no brewing salts!) and single strain yeast, using no kettle finings, no cellar finings, not even filtering the finished beer and especially no artificial carbonation! A freaking purist! After everything else has been pared off because of definition, that purist is the only brewer left around. The world will be a sad place indeed if that were to occur. The farther we go down the road of narrowing definitions the more our destination becomes inescapable. We wind up with only one manufacturer and one product. We don't really want that, now, do we?

    Steffan

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •