- Dogfish Head
Craft brewers are working to make sure shoppers know which beers are made by independent brewers and which brands are actually owned by industry giants.
On Tuesday, the Brewers Association – a group of 5,300 small and independent American craft brewers – announced the launch of an “independent craft” seal to designate which beers are produced by independent craft brewers.
Only beer-centric brands that produce less than 6 million barrels annually and are mostly independent from non-craft alcohol players can use the seal. Big conglomerates can only have an up to 25% stake in a brand for it to be considered independent.
“Beer lovers want to know who is brewing their beer,” Bob Pease, the president and CEO of the Brewers Association, told Business Insider. “The seal will help beer drinkers differentiate independent brewers from Big Beer in the marketplace and help them be a deciding voice in what will be on the shelf, rather than the largest beer companies who have tremendous distribution power.”
Many brewers who have been acquired by beer giants have pushed back on accusations that deals with companies like AB InBev, the maker of brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois, dilute their craft credentials.
“To say our beers are ‘imposter’ craft ignores the intense skill, time and meticulous attention to detail that goes into making any great beer,” Steve Crandall, founder and CEO of Devils Backbone, told Business Insider in May. According to Crandall, a 2016 deal with AB InBev means greater investments in local communities and hiring more employees – not tearing down craft.
While the battle between craft and Big Beer is a hotly contested one, many Americans don’t realize which trendy brands are independent and which have been acquired. Brew Studs, a blog dedicated to craft beer, recently published a list of brands acquired in part or completely by AB InBev, encouraging craft-beer lovers to boycott them.
Here’s the list of 14 beers with roots in craft brewing that would no longer qualify for the Brewers Association seal.
1. Goose Island
- Facebook/Goose Island
AB InBev acquired the maker of beers including Goose IPA and Honkers Ale in 2011.
The Craft Brew Alliance acquired Kona in 2010. Three years later, AB InBev acquired a 32.2% stake in CBA’s business – Brew Studs argues tarnishes the alliance’s “craft” credentials.
Omission, a gluten-removed beer that launched in 2012, is another CBA brand.
Redhook, another CBA beer, was founded in Seattle in 1981.
5. Widmer Brothers
Widmer is a CBA brand founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1984.
6. 10 Barrel
AB InBev acquired 10 Barrel in 2014.
“We feel 100% that we have absolutely nothing to apologize for, and never would we apologize for the sale,” cofounder Garrett Wales said, according to a 2015 report by The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon.
7. Blue Point
AB InBev acquired Elysian – known for its tagline, “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” – in 2015.
9. Four Peaks
The Arizona craft brewer was acquired by AB InBev in 2015.
The Colorado-based brand was acquired in 2015, days after AB InBev announced it had purchased Four Peaks.
11. Golden Road
The Los Angeles-based Golden Road Brewing was acquired by AB InBev in 2015.
12. Devils Backbone
- Devil’s Backbone
AB InBev acquired Devils Backbone in 2016. It was the beer giant’s first purchase under its revamped craft and craft-inspired division, High End.
“This is our promise and our creed, literally: ‘Be Beer Positive always. Great Beer is Great Beer, whether we made it or not,'” Steve Crandall, founder and CEO of Devils Backbone, said in an email to Business Insider. “Can we all agree on that?”
AB InBev acquired the craft brewer, based in Houston, Texas, in 2016.
14. Wicked Weed
- Wicked Weed
In May, the Asheville, North Carolina, brewer announced AB InBev would acquire it.
“They’re the largest company in this segment, and to have that kind of support behind our mission is immense,” Wicked Weed cofounder Luke Dickinson told Business Insider. “We are going to be able to achieve things that we never imagined and have an impact that we never imagined, and that’s incredible.”