At the end of 2012 Brewers Association (BA) published a list of what breweries qualify
as craft breweries according to their definition. The list have stirred up a lot of controversy in the craft beer community. So what is all the fuzz about? What triggered this is – not surprisingly – money. Major corporations like SAB Miller and AB InBev are losing markets shares both to wine and spirits, and to craft beer. They do not intent to sit still and let this happen. They have started to brew beer that they call craft beer or crafty beer but are not according to BA’s definition. The food industry has been doing this for years and years – influencing consumers and making things look what it actually isn’t. Take for example Artisanal. Artisanal food actually used to means something. Artisanal food used to be hand made in small quantities. This was people that put quality and passion before maximized profits. Artisanal has now been totally diluted and means nothing anymore. Domino’s offers artisan pizzas that are as fare from artisan as you can get. The Daily Show’s Lewis Black summarizes it really well in this video.
There are many sides to the craft vs. crafty story. Many small and regional breweries are dependent on the distributor network that the major corporations have a great influence over. Now their association BA is challenging the corporations. This is a David and Goliath situation that many craft breweries don’t want to be a part of. They would rather want to try to live with Goliath than challenge him.
Then there is the most important of all – flavor. Does it really matter where the beer comes from if it tastes good? For some it doesn’t but for many it is of a great importance. For them it’s not only about the flavor. It’s about the community around beer and that is why it’s important for them where the beer comes from. They want to connect with the people that make their favorite beverage and that have the same passion as them for beer. A craft brewery is more likely to offer that than a corporation where the owners are in Belgium or Brazil, the imported brand you are drinking is brewed just around the corner but that you think was brewed in Holland, and the brewer that brewed your beer is just one out of hundreds of others.
I think that there is another side of this that is more important than anything else. People are tired of being screwed. Recently we found out that Lance Armstrong is not the hero that most people thought he was, a Foot Long at Subway isn’t a foot long, you think your eating white tune but it’s most likely escolar, and the popular 1980’s band Milli Vanilli was only a big fraud.