Wednesday, June 12, 2013

POURsuasion: #CraftVsCrafty

The "Crafty" get craftier... - O-Dawg
Let me give you some context for the previous statement.  Craft breweries are defined by the Brewers Association as “small, independent and traditional.” Small meaning 6 million barrels or less brewed per year (roughly 189 million gallons). Independent meaning that less than 25 percent of the brewery “is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.” And to be considered traditional, the brewery must hang its hat on beers that are primarily all-malt (not dominated by adjunct ingredients).

Not every brewery that uses the term craft actually meets that definition.
Brooklyn Brewery"My outlook on it is somewhat philosophical. Am I annoyed? Yes. It's very annoying to see people who are not you walking around dressed as you and claiming to be you, essentially, and using the advantages they have to try to get people to think, "beer is beer, it's all the same," etc. What I say to people is, take the big breweries, and anyone, anyone in the room I'm in, sometimes hundreds of people, can you name the brewmaster? Anyone got a name? No, there is no name. There's no name. There's nothing but money." - Brewmaster Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery 
That's where words like crafty come into play, to add some differentiation. The term Crafty is given to multinational beer producers such as Budweiser, Miller, Coors (BMC) that have taken notice of the upswing in the demand of craft beer.  BMC have responded to this surge by buying up craft breweries and/or creating craft-like brands.
Anheuser-Busch InBev
  Created - Shock Top
  *Bought - Goose Island  (In my opinion 312 has never tasted the same after acquisition.)
  Created - Blue Moon, Killians, Third Shift
SAB Miller
  *Bought - Leinenkugel

That's the foundation of the ongoing war of #CraftVsCrafty.

Enter the Draftmark home tap system the latest in the salvo in the ongoing war for our taste buds!  I was actually going to start up a Beer Gear post on this contraption till I did a little digging...  Guess what I found?!  You guessed it!  The only beer currently sold to be used with this taste bud death trap is none other than the "Crafty" beer described above.  Oh it looks pretty as a picture at first glance! Til you want to drink actual craft beer out of it...

BMC is attempting to do with the beer industry what HP did with the home printer industry.  They will sell you a home tap kit for what initially looks like a low and reasonable price.  Once you have used up all the sample(s) that came with it you have to order replacement "cartridges" exclusively through them.  That's where the profit comes in to play. See the selection pictured below.  Crafty...

6/6/13, 2:27 PM Jason Alstrom @JasonAlstrom: "Well... this should be interesting.  Anyone use the Draftmark Tap System yet?
6/6/13, 2:29 PM Daniel @CharlotteBeer: "Was offered a press sample for review and declined."
6/6/13, 3:14 PM O-Dawg @illumin8tor: "No sir... not anytime soon"

Just this afternoon when sitting down for a nice lunch at Red Robin with a friend guess what was staring me in the face?  After a quick "No... this can't be right... I was just going to make a little funny post about this..."  I took a few quick pic's and went to the Twitter-Sphere.  #CraftVsCrafty

Some of the more amusing responses:
6/6/13, 12:38 PM Greg Koch @StoneGreg: "Oh my goodness gracious, those crafty little tigers in mktg"
6/6/13, 1:23 PM Jake Garvey @JakeGarvey: "I just threw up a little bit when I saw that."

My little local interaction with the #CraftVsCrafty comes on the heels of Stone Brewing Co. co-founder, Greg Koch [@StoneGreg] and his public reaction to an article published on
"Not satisfied by their declines, the major brand beer companies look to Europe for ways to drive a bigger stake into the heart of beer, faster.  
stone greg picHeck, mixing their beer with lemonade, soda pop and other sugary drinks helped the German industrial brewers lose credibility, why shouldn’t the USofA pile into that sinking boat too!
There’s nothing like sending a message to consumers that says “Hey, fed up with beer and or just not in the mood for a ‘regular’ fizzy yellow beer? Let us add HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) / sugar and flavorings into it for you.” Bam! Instant respect from everyone (if “everyone” means “that MBA guy in the marketing dept charged with analyzing new trends”). 

Mother Earth Brewing Company just announced that it is adding the Brewers Association logo on its packaging to aid in defining the #CraftVsCrafty beer. The Brewers Association was quick to state that “The logo should not be interpreted a ‘craft’ seal or certification,” says Gatza. “Approved use is available to members upon request. What we are keen to avoid is any indication that BA ‘endorses’ a company or its products.”

Of note was the talk about a craft beer seal. “We have discussed a ‘craft beer seal’ off and on over the years. I recall seeing notes in this area back to the mid-1990s, but nothing has come of it" said Gatza.  In all honesty, why not have a certification or seal for craft breweries to display?!  We have it for Organic foods, why not Craft Beer!

What do you think? Should there be a distinction for the true craft beers out there? Are you planning to try anything that the crafty marketing folks are proposing- the tap system, the cocktails? Are you just looking for a delicious beer regardless of who makes it?

**Picture of Greg Koch with quote:
**Picture of Garret Oliver with Quote:
**Picture of Mother Earth Brewing:

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