Have you ever stopped to think exactly who makes your beer or where it comes from? Do you even care?
Over in the States, beer drinkers care passionately about who makes their beer. They travel miles for a new release from a high profile brewery, queue for hours and are often restricted to only two bottles per person when they get there! That’s dedication for you! In a recent survey, 53% of beer lovers in the States said that independent ownership is important to them when purchasing beer and transparency of ownership is a key issue.
But, here’s the rub….having noticed the dynamic growth of the craft beer sector in recent years multinational brewing companies are keen to secure a slice of the tasty-looking craft beer pie. Their massive influence at the distributor level and buying power when accessing raw ingredients gives them an unfair advantage and creates challenging market conditions for the small and independent brewer.
Their strategy is to acquire formerly small and independent American craft breweries and pass them off as their own leading to confusion in the marketplace and a lack of transparency. When a beer drinker walks into a bar and sees an array of tap handles it is not obvious which beers are truly independent. This reduction in choice is bad for the beer industry and bad for the consumer.
Two years ago the Brewers Association introduced a simple way to differentiate small and independent craft breweries from ‘big’ beer’ – the Independent Craft Brewer Seal’. Featuring an iconic bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal captures the spirit with which craft beer has upended the beer industry and informs beers, lovers, they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. To date, more than 4,700 small and independent breweries have adopted the seal representing 85% of domestic volume.
Did you know that 80% of Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery? They care passionately that the beer they are spending their hard earned dollars on does not end up in the corporate coffers.
The interest in independence is taking off around the world with similar schemes to America’s Independent Craft Brewer Seal.
The UK SIBA (Society for Independent Brewers) introduced their Assured Independent British Craft Brewer seal in 2016 and the Independent Brewers Association of Australia has recently introduced the ‘IBA Independence Seal.