Watering Down the Definition of Craft Beer

Posted: May 22, 2014
Author: Ty

The surge in popularity among craft drinkers has watered down the definition of craft beer. Have you ever been asked what makes a beer ‘craft’ and fumbled at the words? That confusion likely flows from the Brewers Association own confounding logic.

The Colorado industry group responsible for representing craft brewers is starting to catch the reputation of changing the craft beer definition as frequently as a seasonal tap. As smaller breweries grow larger, as big name companies like Budweiser continue to infiltrate the craft market, the addendum that abides to craft beer requires a steady rubber eraser.

Earlier this year, the Brewers Association eliminated a requirement for breweries to make at least half of their product and ‘flagship’ ales exclusively with barley malt. Alternatives such as rice or corn, commonly used by major breweries for light lagers, were essentially outlawed in the craft world.

That’s not all. The Boston Beer Company, well known for their Samuel Adams line of beers, was ballooning well outside the craft beer parameters until intervention arrived. The Brewers Association voted to raise the annual cap from two million barrels produced annually to six million – further blurring the definition of an independent craft brewery.

These changes aren’t going over well in the craft community. Some purists believe the allowance of more common ingredients will compromise the integrity of the beer. Others believe that companies as torrential as the Boston Beer Company have no place among producers barely producing 100,000 barrels per year.

Representatives from the Brewers Association say the change in definition has everything to do with preventing the penalization of success. Why punish original members of the craft brewing society for achieving popularity? The only thing certain is the definition of craft beer will continue to evolve alongside its market.

Story originally from NPR