Craft breweries have thrived as part of the counterculture, serving those who like buying local, quality, not-mass produced products. For consumers looking to make that choice in their buying decisions, the distinctions used to be fairly easy — stay away from those giant cubes in the refrigerated section and grab a six pack with a cool label from the shelf. With so many craft breweries growing so large though, distributing across the country and, in some cases, now being funded by Big Beer corporations, the lines are so much grayer. How can buyers tell a difference?
One idea that has been bandied about for a few years has been a industry-supported symbol that would certify that product as being “craft” or “independent.” Well, the time for bandying is over, says the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers, which is now launching a new seal to tout independent craft brewers.
The seal is available for use free of charge by any of the more than 5,300 small and independent American craft brewers that have a valid TTB Brewer’s Notice, meet the BA’s craft brewer definition, and sign a license agreement. It is available to both member and non-member breweries of the BA. In the coming weeks, months and years, beer lovers will see it on beer packaging, at retailers and in brewery communications and marketing materials.
Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal captures the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. These breweries run their businesses free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers.
“Independent craft brewers continue to turn the beer industry on its head by putting community over corporation and beer before the bottom line. They continue to better beer and our country by going beyond just making the beverage. These small businesses give back to their backyard communities and support thousands of cities and towns across the U.S.,” said Bob Pease, president & CEO, Brewers Association. “As Big Beer acquires former craft brands, beer drinkers have become increasingly confused about which brewers remain independent. Beer lovers are interested in transparency when it comes to brewery ownership. This seal is a simple way to provide that clarity—now they can know what’s been brewed small and certified independent.”
While small and independent craft brewers represent 99 percent of the 5,300+ breweries in the U.S., they make just 12 percent of the beer sold in the country. The rest of U.S. beer sales comes from Big Beer along with imported brands. As large brewers continue to have unprecedented influence and acquire millions of barrels of formerly independently brewed beer, the seal differentiates in a crowded and increasingly competitive marketplace.