In response to big breweries slurping up coveted niche craft brewers, the Brewers Association has announced a new seal of approval to help consumers distinguish small and financially independent craft brewers from their acquired rivals.
Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, said in an email, “The impetus for the seal was a way to differentiate — not denigrate — independent craft brewers from Big Beer. As Big Beer acquires former craft brands, beer drinkers have become increasingly confused about which brewers remain independent. Beer lovers are interested in transparency … this seal is a simple way to provide that clarity.”
The qualification of a small and independent craft brewer has not changed, but the seal is new.
To qualify brewers must have less than 25 percent of the operation owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
Among the other criteria for the seal, the brewer must be small: “Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales).” In 2010, the cap moved from 2 million barrels up to 6 million to account for growth of the overall industry and a federal tax designation.
Consumers can expect to start seeing the label “in the coming weeks, months and years,” which seems to imply that it will depend on how much consumers pay attention and use it for purchasing decisions.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch