On Tuesday June 27, 2017, the Brewers Association announced the Independent Craft Brewer Seal. This seal is designed to be displayed on bottles, cans, labels, tap handles and websites of products that meet their definition of “Craft Beer”. More or less, they want true independent, craft breweries to put this seal anywhere their beer is sold or promoted.
The key word in this story is independent. This term is being heavily promoted by this organization as they continue to educate consumers about the difference between macro beer companies and independent brewers. It is a move to reduce the impact that macro beer companies may have on the craft beer industry. Craft beer is only 12% (give or take) of the beer market and large beer companies are worried about losing more market share to craft brewers.
Related Post: What Is Craft Beer: History and Definitions
Why Do We Need The Independent Craft Brewer Seal?
It’s an obvious question, do we really need to mark beer with this seal? Yes, it is necessary to make it clear that a beer comes from a craft brewer.
The intent of this seal is to provide an easy way for craft breweries to denote themselves as such. With the increased number of breweries being purchased by large (non-craft) breweries, many believe that it is important to find new ways to signify which are still small and independent. This seal will be reserved for breweries that still qualify as craft beer; small, independent and traditional.
Furthermore, it gives consumers an equally easy way to make an educated decision when standing in the beer aisle. Many craft beer fans do not want to buy beer from AB InBev, Miller Coors, etc. Their desire is to buy from craft breweries but that is more difficult because brands that were once craft are now owned by large corporation. And macro beer companies are using marketing to appear like their craft beer competitors. The Wal-Mart brand beer is a great example of this.
And the part that I appreciate the most is the ability to easily educate those that are new to craft beer. I will be able to easily encourage friends and family to buy true craft beer by looking for the Independent Craft Brewer Seal.
Will Breweries Use This Seal?
If breweries do not take the time, money, and effort to have this seal added to their packaging then the seal loses its power. Hopefully, the Brewers Association worked with breweries prior to this launch to ensure they were on board.
If a few large, independent breweries start using this seal then I see many others following behind them. Because at the end of the day, selling beer on a retail shelf is dependent on marketing. And if customers are looking for this logo then everyone will want to have it on their beer.
Adoption of this seal will be slow at first. But as more and more latch on to this, others will be forced to do it to ensure they are not grouped with the non-independent (macro) brewers.
The good news is I know of at least one brewery that has already announced their support of this seal. Christian Moerlein of Cincinnati, Ohio took to Facebook to speak positively about it. And I see many more doing the same.
Related Post: What Is Craft Beer: My Opinion
Will Independent Replace Craft?
As the Brewers Association and many others start to push the use of “independent”, I have to wonder if it will replace “craft”. The word craft has lost some of its meaning over the past years.
I think craft will continue to be a term used to refer to the beer while independent will be tied to the brewery itself. For example, craft beer is made by an independent brewery. In fact, some have already started doing this. Troegs Brewery uses independent in all of their marketing; including their logo.
But if independent does replace craft, will I need to change my name to Independent Beer Joe? I don’t think it has the same ring to it. So as much as independent is important, the phrase craft beer isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
The Independent Craft Brewers Seal is important. We need tools to help set true craft beer apart from macro beer. It’s about transparency and education in the market place. Consumer deserve to know who is making their beer and what company is profiting from the sale of it.
You won’t find this seal on a Budweiser or Miller Lite. And you won’t find it on a Goose Island IPA or Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager. But you will find it on bottles from your local nano-brewery, Sam Adams Boston Lager and Yuengling. I am looking forward to seeing the first packaging with this logo on it.