No one seemed to notice, but back in April, Mother Earth Brewing released a press release announcing it was using the Brewers Association (BA) logo on all of its packaging. In that press release, Mother Earth suggested one of its intentions was to use the logo to differentiate its craft beer from Big Beer versions of craft. Not a bad idea, but when we contacted the BA about that idea yesterday, they noted that is not the purpose of the logo on craft beer labels or anywhere else.
“The logo approvals are not an attempt to differentiate craft vs. non-craft; they are merely a system for companies to show that they are proud members of the Brewers Association,” explained Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.
“I re-read the Mother Earth press release,” continued Gatza, “and I don’t see specifically that the purpose is to signify true craft. Approvals [of the logo] are granted for certain uses to voting members of the Brewers Association, based on our bylaws, for a BA logo with the word ‘member’ below it. Approvals for associate members such as non-voting brewery members, allied trade members, distributor members and retailer members may be granted to use the BA logo with the term ‘associate member.’ Whether a company meets the craft brewer definition or not has nothing to do with approvals.”
You can read the Mother Earth press release here, but the brewery cites the BA’s Craft vs. Crafty: A Statement from the Brewers Association, which notes: “An American craft brewer is defined as small and independent. Their annual production is 6 million barrels of beer or less and no more than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.” We quote the press release:
Well, after that article was released by the Brewers Association an independent blogger came out with a remedy. He suggested that craft brewers stand together and start putting the Brewers Association (BA) logo on all their packaging.
So at Mother Earth, we did just that. After talking with the Brewers Association and having them give us permission to do that, we are happy to say we support the BA on all our packaging and are really thrilled to be one of the first true craft breweries to do so.
The blog mentioned is from KegWorks.com, and it’s called Craft vs. Crafty Beer: A Campaign to Label What’s Real. In it, the blogger has this suggestion:
I have a simple idea: Why don’t craft brewers who are members of the Brewers Association put the BA logo on their packaging to distinguish their true craft beer from “crafty” imitators? Other food and beverage trade associations do this. I see logos on packages certifying food as local, organic or from a particular region … why not a logo that lets the consumer know this is a real craft beer?
UPDATE: We reached out to Trent Mooring, president of Mother Earth, to get his opinions on the subject matter.
“Yes, I think it could potentially be a good indicator if more craft breweries start doing it, but I think it is something we will have to do as a craft community before consumers will start to take notice,” said Mooring. He was quick to note the importance of the BA to Mother Earth and the industry. “We are very proud to add the BA logo on all our packaging. The BA is a tremendous asset to the craft brewing community, big and small. We like to show our support to the association that has helped us in so many ways.”
These are all interesting ideas, but the big question still lingers: Is the Craft vs. Crafty debate even a continuous campaign by the association?
“We reply to media discussions, but it is not an ongoing campaign,” said Gatza. “The Craft vs. Crafty statement was a call for transparency in ownership of beer brands. In a perfect world, companies large and small would stand up as the companies behind the brands, the beer drinker would have that knowledge readily available to them, could make decisions fully aware and have great occasions with beer.”
Of course, using the BA logo is nothing new. According to Gatza, several allied trade companies and brewery members of the BA have expressed an interest to include a BA logo on their websites, packaging and even brewhouse windows. What are the parameters of using the logo? The rules are listed right here. There is no cost to use the logo beyond regular membership dues, but usage must be requested and granted. What does is it mean to the consumer that’s actually drinking the beer and seeing the logo?
“The logo may have value to some beer drinkers,” said Gatza. “That value could grow if there are more consumer-facing approvals granted. The vast majority of requests we see are from allied trade members wishing to show others in the brewing community that they are proud members of the BA. It is not a campaign by the Brewers Association.”