World Class Beverages Indiana

June 15, 2010

Too Big to Be a “Craft” Brewer?

Filed under: Beer Business — Bob Mack @ 2:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s only fair to say that Samuel Adams beers helped to lead the craft beer revolution in this country. They were making craft beer in the eighties when most of us didn’t know what craft beer was. But a recent New York Times article about the Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams beers, focused on a brewing controversy surrounding the brewer these days. Are they simply too big to be considered a craft brewer?

This year, Boston Beer will approach or exceed the 2 million barrel production limit that the Brewers Association (BA) places on their definition of a craft brewer. According to the BA, a craft brewer must be small, independent and traditional. And small may no longer be a fitting definition of Samuel Adams.

Two millions barrels is a lot of beer.

Compare that to Indiana’s largest regional brewer, Bell’s Brewing, who produced about 120,000 barrels of beer last year or compare them to Indiana’s largest brewer, Three Floyds. who produced 14,000 barrels of beer last year and 2 million seems like an ocean of beer! But compare Samuel Adams to Anhueser-Busch who brewed about 100 million barrels of beer last year and suddenly 2 million barrels doesn’t seem like so much. Jim Koch, founder and president of Samuel Adams, says it best in the New York Times article when he said:

“If we’re not a craft brewer,” said Jim Koch, president of Boston Beer, “what else are we? We’re certainly not Budweiser.”

But in the end, does it really matter to me how much beer they make? Shouldn’t the real issue be the type of beer that’s important? If it’s the beer I want to drink, why should I care how much of it they make, as long as they make enough of it so that I can actually get some.

Are we more concerned with drinking beers because other people don’t drink them, or are we choosing to drink the beers that we truly enjoy and appreciate?

Article Notes:

According to the Brewers Association, brewers must meet these requirements in order to be considered a craft brewer:

  • Small – Less than 2 million barrels of production annually.
  • Independent – Less than 25% of the brewery must be owned by a “craft” brewer.
  • Traditional – 50% of the volume of beer produced must be all-malt or use adjunct ingredients to enhance, rather than lighten flavor.

Production of select brewers in 2009 in barrels (according to the Brewers Association):

100,000,000      Anheuser-Busch
75,000,000  Miller-Coors
1,841,348 Boston Beer
125,138 Bell’s Brewing
11,031 Three Floyds Brewing

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