In an article in today’s Washington Post, author Greg Kitsock writes a lengthy column on the long-running dispute over the Brewers Association’s restrictive and political definition of craft beer. Loyal and unloyal readers alike will recall that the definitional debate is something we have covered here on a number of occasions, and here, here, and here. [Ed: Maybe I need a new subject].
Make no mistake, a week before craft brewers and the Brewers Association head to the nation’s capital for their keynote event, one intended to impress the national media and the nation’s legislators, the article is a political shot of a different stripe. It’s an issue the association has preferred to address in private despite the very public misgivings of prominent brewers, including members of the association’s own board.
One thing that the Post article overlooks, however, is the Brewers Association’s recent statements, including at the recent Craft Brewers Conference, that the two million barrel mark does not include non-beer products, such as so-called flavored malt beverages. While it is not completely clear, it appears that some portion of the Boston Beer Company’s present production is related to its Twisted Tea products, which do not count towards the two million barrel mark. If the association doesn’t move to change its definition or create some sort of legacy exception for Boston Beer, we may soon learn the exact production numbers for the Samuel Adams brands versus the FMB’s the company produces.
Question: how many annual keynote events can you work into a calendar for the same focal group of a few hundred folk?
To the Association’s benefit, this event does not target the industry or beer geeks. It’s really focused on selling craft beer as a player and a stable, upscale force for the national media and legislators. Beyond these aims, the attendees are just filler as the event loses a good amount of money for the Association.
That is interesting. I suppose I would expect a community or movement to bring the industry, the fanboy and the lobbying exercise into one entity or event, one annual conference. Maybe craft beer isn’t there yet in terms of authority and power, not able to say that if you want to come to us you come to our event our turf.
But there is an effect – one does get a wee bit numb to yet another gathering of similar faces in support of the great cause.