To Distinguish Craft from Crafty, BA Unveils New Indie Seal

Want to know if an independently owned company brewed that craft beer you’re drinking? Now there’s a badge for that.

The Brewers Association – a not-for-profit trade group representing the interests of small and independent U.S. craft breweries – today debuted an official “independent craft brewer seal” that it hopes brewery owners will “proudly display” on packaging, marketing materials, merchandise, websites and in taproom windows, among other places.

The marker is aimed at helping drinkers distinguish between beers produced by small craft beer companies and those made by multinational corporations, such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has purchased 10 craft breweries since 2011.

“We have been hearing from our members for some time now that drinkers do want to support breweries that are independently owned,” Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease told Brewbound.

According to a press release, the seal will be available free of charge for use by any of the 5,400 U.S. craft breweries that have a valid TTB brewer’s notice, meet the BA’s craft brewer definition and sign a licensing agreement.

“This effort is not confined to just BA members,” Pease told Brewbound.

“We have been working on this for over a year,” he added. “Our goal is to differentiate but not denigrate.”

The seal itself is an image of an upside down beer bottle meant to “illustrate how small and independent brewers have turned the beer industry upside down,” according to Pease, who hopes the image will “become iconic.”

All 19 of the Brewers Association board members approved the initiative, Pease said, adding that each of the 16 brewery representatives committed to printing the seal on packaging.

“If we are trying to start a movement, which we are trying to do, we need some leaders,” he said.

Boston Beer Company, the second-largest U.S. craft brewery, and Maine’s Allagash Brewing Company are among the initial breweries that have agreed to place the seal on their packaging.

In a conversation with Brewbound, Allagash founder Rob Tod, who also serves as the chair of the BA board, stressed the importance of having a “tool” that will help consumers know which labels are made by small businesses and which are made by larger companies such as Goose Island, Ballast Point and Lagunitas (owned by A-B, Constellation and Heineken, respectively).

“This will give the customer more information and transparency,” he said. “We are going to try to get it on our packaging as soon as possible.”

Allagash will first place the seal on its four-packs, a process that could take as long as three months as it works to deplete existing inventories, Tod said.

For his part, Pease said consumers could expect to see the seal on brewery websites as soon as today and on packages over the next few weeks.

“Our goal as an organization is to promote and protect small and independent craft brewers, and we feel this is a step in that direction,” he added.

The debut of the seal, which Pease said will be backed by a “significant investment,” comes more than 1,600 days after the BA launched its now famous “craft versus crafty” media offensive.

That effort, from December 2012, included an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headlined “Craft or Crafty? Consumers deserve to know the truth.”

In its promotion of the new seal, the BA cited a recent 2,000-person Harris Poll survey, co-developed by Brewbound and Nielsen, which found that 81 percent of craft beer consumers were familiar with the terms “independent” and “independently owned.”

A press release with more information is below and additional context is available on the Brewers Association website and its consumer publication, craftbeer.com.

Boulder, CO • June 27, 2017 — In an effort to educate beer lovers about which beers are independently produced, the Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers—launched a new seal touting independent craft brewers.

Featuring an iconic beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal captures the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. These breweries run their businesses free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers.

Independence is a hallmark of the craft brewing industry, and it matters to the brewers who make the beer and the beer lovers who drink it. A recent study commissioned by Brewbound and conducted Nielsen found that “independent” and “independently owned” strongly resonated with the majority (81 percent) of craft beer drinkers. Increasingly, they are looking for differentiation between what’s being produced by small and independent craft brewers versus Big Beer and acquired brands. Beer drinkers, especially Millennials, expect transparency when it comes to their food and beverages. That transparency and underlying ownership can drive their purchase intent.

“Independent craft brewers continue to turn the beer industry on its head by putting community over corporation and beer before the bottom line. They continue to better beer and our country by going beyond just making the beverage. These small businesses give back to their backyard communities and support thousands of cities and towns across the U.S.,” said Bob Pease, president & CEO, Brewers Association. “As Big Beer acquires former craft brands, beer drinkers have become increasingly confused about which brewers remain independent. Beer lovers are interested in transparency when it comes to brewery ownership. This seal is a simple way to provide that clarity—now they can know what’s been brewed small and certified independent.”

The seal is available for use free of charge by any of the more than 5,300 small and independent American craft brewers that have a valid TTB Brewer’s Notice, meet the BA’s craft brewer definition, and sign a license agreement. It is available to both member and non-member breweries of the BA. In the coming weeks, months and years, beer lovers will see it on beer packaging, at retailers and in brewery communications and marketing materials.

“Craft brewers build communities and the spirit of independent ownership matters” said Rob Tod, chair, Brewers Association Board of Directors and founder, Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. “When beer lovers buy independent craft beer, they are supporting American entrepreneurs and the risk takers who have long strived not just to be innovative and make truly great beer, but to also build culture and community in the process.”

While small and independent craft brewers represent 99 percent of the 5,300+ breweries in the U.S., they make just 12 percent of the beer sold in the country. The rest of U.S. beer sales comes from Big Beer along with imported brands. As large brewers continue to have unprecedented influence and acquire millions of barrels of formerly independently brewed beer, the seal differentiates in a crowded and increasingly competitive marketplace.

Breweries can find more information about the independent craft brewer seal at BrewersAssociation.org/seal and beer lovers can learn more at CraftBeer.com/seal. Follow the discussion at #IndependentBeer.

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The Brewers Association (BA) represents more than 70 percent of the brewing industry, and its members make more than 99 percent of the beer brewed in the U.S. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSM, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine and its Brewers Publications™ division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association and the free Brew Guru™ mobile app. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 11246 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.

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