Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Isn't that a surprise?

This could be the least surprising decision ever. Even I predicted it and I'm no Mystic Meg:

"The board of directors of the Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, has voted to change the BA's designation of "small" in its definition of a "craft brewer." The Association's board of directors also has revised its bylaws to reflect the change.

In the BA's craft brewer definition, the term "small" now refers to any independent brewery that produces up to 6 million barrels of traditional beer. The previous definition capped production at 2 million barrels. The changed definition is currently in effect and can be reviewed on the BA website, The change to the bylaws went into effect December 20, 2010."

Whatever bullshit spin they put on it, the motivation is obvious: keep Sam Adams "craft". Without fiddling certain of their products out of their figures, they would have been over 2 million US barrels in 2010. The Brewers Association can't afford to have 2 million barrels of "craft beer" disappear. It would mean a big drop in "craft beer" sales in 2011. And they wouldn't want that, would they?

It's not the first time they've fiddled the upper limit for Sam Adams benefit. Though it may be a while before they need to again, what with the the new cap being so high. I can't help wondering what would happen if Sam Adams were disqualified as "craft" for some other reason, like an association with AB-Inbev. Would the Brewers Association change the rules again?

6 million barrels. I know it's not much compared to AB-Inbev, but it still isn't what I would describe as "small".


Alistair Reece said...

How would you define an "association" with AB-InBev, given that plenty of craft brewers are distributed through AB-InBev's network, as well as AB-InBev having a minority stake?

Ron Pattinson said...

Velky Al, I can't remember the exact rules off the top of my head. Being owned more than 25% by one of the big boys is one. I think there are a couple of others.

Bill said...

This change adds a new brewery to the craft ranks. Yuengling, America's oldest brewery, is at 3.6 million barrels so the market share of craft will increase dramatically with this new definition. I'm interested to hear what 5th generation owner Dave Yuengling has to say about his reclassification.