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Brewers Association seeks to differentiate craft beer with Independent Craft seal

Brewers-Association-Independent-Craft-stamp-badge-logo-BeerPulseThe landscape of craft beer has gone from one of unfettered growth to that of a battleground for small, independent brewers fighting to eek out a place in the now crowded marketplace. To make the fight more difficult, the two mega brewers that control 90% of the  United State’s beer production — Anheuser-Bush/InBev and Molson Coors — seem to be on a tear to snatch up as many craft brewers as they can, muddying the field and confusing consumers as to who actually produces the beer they are drinking.

According to a blog post dated July 19 on the Brewers Association’s (BA) website, as the craft beer movement started to reach its crescendo and begin slowing, brewers began speaking out regarding the need for a way to differentiate their products from those produced by the mega brewers or breweries owned by them. An idea that had been kicked around for decades came to the forefront again and, on June 27, 2017, the BA announced the creation of the Independent Craft Brewer seal.

The seal is a logo designed to be displayed on packaging and advertising on products brewed by breweries that conform to the BA’s definition of a craft brewery. To qualify, a brewery must produce less than six million barrels of beer annually and be less than 25% owned by alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. It depicts an upside-down beer bottle that symbolizes how the craft brewing movement turned the beer brewing industry on its head.

During the design of the seal, research showed that almost all beer lovers have some interest in a “certification badge” or seal to identify independently owned craft breweries believing such a seal would support small businesses. Indeed, a Brewbound/Nielsen Harris Poll of 2,000 beer lovers conducted in May 2017 indicated overwhelmingly that beer drinkers want to know who is making the beer they drink.

“People want to know when they are supporting locally owned and operated businesses, in this case breweries, that are independent from the big corporations,” said Sean Nordquist, Executive Director of the Florida Brewers Guild. “People want to know that their money is going towards local businesses rather than multi-national corporations.”

 

With the seal, the BA hopes to clarify who is making the beer consumers are drinking. Especially as the mega brewers continue to purchase craft brewers and introduce “crafty” beers to the market that mimic craft styles.

Since the announcement of the seal, nearly 25-percent of the independent craft brewers in the United States have adopted it in some form.

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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Law restricting Florida craft beer breweries up for vote

NY State Ends Tax Exemptions For In State Breweries After Lawsuit From Out Of StateThings have been brewing in Florida’s state legislature, but not to the benefit of the state’s craft beer brewers. In fact, one bill – Senate Bill 1714 – makes it illegal for a brewery that produces more than 2,00 kegs per year to sell its own beer in bottles or cans directly to consumers. Instead, the brewery must sell the beer to a distributor and then purchase it back at the distributor’s price, typically 30% to 40% higher.

Jacksonville brewery owner Ben Davis of Intuition Ale Works has made it his mission to defeat the bill and preserve the rights of Florida brewers to sell their own beer in their tap rooms. Davis has attended sessions at the Florida senate where the bill has been discussed and even hired a lobbyist to work the political circles and inform elected officials of the damage 1714 would cause. In an interview on Jacksonville television station WJXT, Davis said, “It’s going to kill us. It’ll make us question our whole business plan… I think basically it’s going to push future brewers into other markets, other states.”

Watch the entire story from WJXT by clicking the link at the bottom of this article.

In a press release dated April 21, 2014, Eric Criss, president of the Beer Industry of Florida – the industry association for Miller/Coors distributors in Florida – made it clear that his organization was opposed to SB 1714. In the release Criss said, “Brewers and distributors are good partners and some craft brewers need limited retail privileges to build their businesses.  Therefore, it’s in distributors’ interest that small brewers should have a well-defined, limited exception in the statute that allows them to operate as retailers, both on-premise and off-premise.”

Criss also came out in support of 64-ounce growlers, currently banned in Florida, but the industry standard in 47 other states.

On the other hand, the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association has been a strong proponent of the bill and has more than doubled its contributions to the re-election campaign of senators who have voted to pass the measure. According to an article in the Miami Herald April 22, 2014, the association has contributed $65,600 to 2014 or 2016 senate re-election campaigns.

In addition, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, came right out and told the Associated Press that he would support the bill unquestioningly because craft breweries were a problem to his friend Lewis Bear, owner of the Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Florida’s panhandle. Gaetz received more than $8,000 in contributions from beer distributors for his 2012 campaign with Bear anteing up $2,000.

Mitch Rubin, executive director and lobbyist for the Anheuser-Busch distributer group Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, told Reuters their goal is to re-write the state’s rules governing the craft brewing industry to create strict lines between manufacturers, distributors and retailers, which he said would preserve competition. But, many industry insiders say the actual result of the bill would be to eliminate small breweries that need the ability to sell packaged beer from their tap rooms to foster their own growth.

Still, Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the legislation goal is to bolster the three-tier system of alcohol distribution set up by the federal government after Prohibition. In the three-tier system brewers must sell their beer to distributors who then sell the beer to retailers. The system was originally put in place to keep large beer companies from monopolizing the industry. Somehow, that same system has now been turned to the favor of the mega-beer producers who carry political clout because of their deep pockets and campaign sponsorships.

Senate Bill 1714 has already passed its committee hearings and will be brought up to the full senate on Monday, April 28. Senate has until the end of the scheduled legislative session to pass the bill or it is considered dead. The scheduled date to close the current legislative session in the Florida senate is Friday, May 2.

Intuition Ale Works and Davis have announced that they will hold a post-legislative session wrap-up event at the brewery Saturday, May 3starting at 2:00 p.m. According to the Intuition website, Davis “will provide an overview and behind-the-scenes perspective of the anti-craft beer measures that moved through legislature during the 2014 session.” Davis will also provide information on how craft beer lovers can get involved and support the Florida craft beer industry.

If you wish to express your opinion on SB 1714 you may write your state senator. To find the address of your senator, go to the senate website at: http://www.flsenate.gov/about/contact.

You may also contact Mitch Rubin at the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association at:

Florida Beer Wholesalers Association
215 South Monroe Street, Suite 340
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 224-2337

WJXT story on SB1714

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Beer Industry

 

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National food and drink website chooses Cigar City as top 5 brewery

CigarCityBrewingA few weeks ago, I received an email from a reporter for The Daily Meal food and drink website. She sought me out to ask my opinion of the best craft beer breweries in the United States. The premise was simple; she was asking some of the country’s best beer bloggers to name their top three breweries, she was then going to take those breweries and ask the readers of the website to vote on the top 25 from the nominations.

Well, the results are in and the website has published its list of the top 25 craft breweries in the country on their website. You can read the article at The Daily Meal. For the record, my choices were, in this order:

  1. Dogfish Head
  2. Firestone Walker
  3. Cigar City

Note that two of my choices made it into the top five and that Florida’s Cigar City Brewing Co. is one of them. For your convenience, I have included the top 10 breweries on their list. See if you agree with the choices their readers made.

  1. Dogfish Head (Lewes, Del.)
  2. Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, Calif.)
  3. Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, Mo.)
  4. Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
  5. Cigar City Brewing Company (Tampa, Fla.)
  6. New Belgium Brewery (Fort Collins, Colo.)
  7. Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, Calif.)
  8. Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
  9. Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, Calif.)
  10. Sierra Nevada (Chico, Calif.)
 
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Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Beer News

 

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