As a means to differentiate independent craft beer from beer made by larger beverage corporations, the Brewers Association (BA) has created a seal, which can be applied to bottles, cans and other items at no charge by every independent brewery – even non-members.
“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,” says Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association.
In a move to participate in the fast growing craft beer market, big brewers like AB InBev, Miller Coors, Constellation Brands, Heineken and Kirin are increasingly buying craft breweries throughout the United States and abroad. Recent US purchases were: 10 Barrel Brewing by AB InBev in 10/2014, Elysian Brewing by AB InBev in 01/2015, Lagunitas Brewing by Heineken in 9/2015 (50% stake) and 5/2017 (remaining 50% stake), Golden Road Brewing by AB InBev in 09/2015, Saint Archer Brewing by MillerCoors in 11/2015, Ballast Point Brewing by Constellation Brands in 11/2015, Breckenridge Brewery by AB InBev in 12/2015, Four Peaks Brewing by AB InBev in 12/2015, Devil’s Backbone Brewing by AB InBev in 04/2016, Hop Valley Brewing by MillerCoors in 7/2016, Terrapin Beer by MillerCoors in 7/2016, Revolver Brewing by MillerCoors in 8/2016, Brooklyn Brewery (24.5% stake) by Kirin in 10/2016, Karbach Brewing by AB InBev in 11/2016, Wicked Weed Brewing by AB InBev in 5/2017.
In 2016 craft beer volume in the US increased by 6% to 1.4 million barrels (1.6m hl) despite a loss of 1.2 million barrels (1.4m hl), which were acquired by larger beverage corporations and which are therefore no longer considered as craft beer by BA’s definitions. Despite counting for 99% of the breweries in the US, small and independent craft brewers make just 12% of all beer sold, 88% is produced by larger corporations or is imported.