Most everyone in the beer industry was talking about the difference between craft and crafty yesterday, but not everyone was happy to be having the conversation.
Several brewers, large and small, took issue yesterday with statements by the Brewers Association (BA), releasing public comments defending their position in the brewing world — comments that they say put them squarely outside the world of craft.
“The question we have for the Brewers Association is ‘why are we being punished for brewing with a locally grown ingredient, which started out of necessity, and has continued out of tradition?,’” asked Jace Marti, the Brewmaster at Schell Brewing, in a statement he released yesterday. “And why is it only bad to use adjuncts if you are brewing an American Lager, yet perfectly acceptable to use them in basically any Belgian style of beer, IPA’s or double IPA’s?”
Tenth and Blake president and CEO Tom Cardella also responded yesterday with a statement, challenging the BA’s “crafty” designation of the company’s Blue Moon brand.
“Whether people call them craft or some other title is fine with us. We’ll just keep brewing great beer,” noted the statement.
The rebuttals came as a way of countering of a media offensive launched by the BA earlier this week to try to promote “transparency” with regard to products like Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Shock Top, which might be made by big international breweries but are sold in many of the same ways as craft beer, and carry similar flavor profiles.
It’s a membership imperative, BA director Paul Gatza told Brewbound yesterday, to “point a bright light on this part of the beer industry by showing who’s behind some of the beers.”
Among the brewing practices the BA called outside the purview of craft are those that may use “adjuncts” like corn or rice to “lighten rather than enhance flavor.”
But Marti – whose “adjunct” offerings make up more than 60 percent of Schell’s total annual output, which leaves him outside of BA membership – believes his company has the same goal, nevertheless.
“We are fighting the big guys just like they are,” he said. “Why fight us if we are doing the same fight they are?”
Marti told Brewbound that Schell’s Brewery is not a member of the BA.
Brewbound also recently asked New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan, Dale Katechis of Oskar Blues Brewery and Tony Magee of Lagunitas for their thoughts on “faux-craft” offerings like Blue Moon at the Nov. 29 Brewbound Session. Their answers are featured in the video above.
The full statements from Cardella and Marti are below.