Spirt of Philadelphia First Friday 2017 Leaderboard

The Brewers Association Has Unveiled a Craft Brewery Seal

by Alexander Frane on Jun 27, 2017 in Beer

More and more independent breweries are being acquired by larger beer conglomerates, most notably AB In-Bev, who not only purchased a swath of breweries in the past few years, but also distributers, and a beer rating website. Now, The Brewer’s Association, an organization seeking to support “small and independent craft breweries,” has found a way to distinguish which beers come from such producers, and which are now subsidiaries of larger organizations. The organization has developed an optional seal to be placed on the label.

The image is of an upside-down beer bottle, representing how “Craft beer has disrupted the beer market over the last three decades in a way that’s indicative of turning something upside down,” according to CraftBeer.com publisher Julia Herz. Any brewery can sign for use of the icon, provided they achieve three criteria: small, meaning annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or fewer; traditional, which disqualifies flavored malt beverages and other similar brands; and independent, which means “Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.”

While the intent is noble, that last qualification has given some folk pause — Paste Magazine’s Jim Vorel describes the problem of lumping a brewery such as Founders, which sold to a Spanish beer company that rarely acts in the States, in with breweries that sold to AB InBev. He also points to how, with independence only being violated if sold to another beer company, a brewery can sell to a private equity firm and still be considered independent.

Regardless of potential problems with the label, it speaks to a growing concern in the brewery scene to remain transparently independent and craft focused. Considering the rate of acquisition and consolidation on the market, it’s little wonder such concerns abound.

Photo via the Brewer's Association

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