Craft Beer Labeling: If Breweries Sell Out Is It Still Craft Beer?

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Craft Beer Labeling: If Breweries Sell Out Is It Still Craft Beer?

Craft Beer Labeling: If Breweries Sell Out Is It Still Craft Beer?

About three weeks ago, 10th & Blake announced it would become a major shareholder in an Athens, GA craft brewery, Terrapin Beer Company.  10th & Black is the craft division of MillerCoors.  While the beer may taste exactly the same, is it still craft beer?  Some craft brew lovers feel they've been deceived, that's for certain.

 
It seems that for those who are passionate about craft beer, many feel betrayed and as though the small brewery has 'sold out' when the brewery sells to a major company such as MillerCoors.  While not all feel this way, some who love craft beer have the opinion that when a brewery isn't financially controlled by the little guy, it's just another beer.  
 
The Brewers Association's definition of what a craft brewery should be is what people in the craft brewing community typically accept.  So, how does the BA define a craft brewery?
 
First, it's small in size and produces 6 million barrels or less of beer each year.
 
Second, it's independent.  Less than a quarter of a craft brewery's ownership or control should be by someone in the alcohol/beverage industry who is not a craft brewer.  Ultimately, a large commercial brewing operation that is not a craft brewer should only control or own less than 25% of the craft brewery in order for the smaller operation to be considered a craft brewer.
 
Last, craft breweries focus on traditional or innovative brewing ingredients to derive flavor in the majority of their total beverage alcohol volume in beers.
 
Since MillerCoors snapped up Terrapin Beer last month, it has since quietly added at least one more - Hop Valley Brewing.  By adding these properties to its 10th & Blake family of craft brands, MillerCoors is continuing to build their craft beer portfolio which already includes Saint Archer Brewing, Blue Moon, and Jacob Leinekugel Brewing.
 
What is your opinion - is it still craft beer when a craft brewer partners with the big players?
 
At Markem-Imaje, we understand there are many different answers to this question, and plenty of room for debate.  Regardless of opinions, we provide craft beer labeling solutions for the beverage industry, including craft breweries who may package products in aluminum cans or bottles. Trust us for your marking needs!

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