BA Tweaks Definition of Craft Brewer

The Brewers Association (BA) Board of Directors has introduced changes to the association’s foundational framework “to better serve the not-for-profit trade group’s membership of small and independent American craft brewers,” according to a statement issued today by BA Board president Gary Fish.

The revisions make small changes to the association’s definition of craft brewer, which has been controversial at times. The most significant change is in expanding the use of adjuncts. No change was made to the production limit of craft brewer which remains at 6 million.

Following is a portion of the BA statement:

Craft Brewer Definition
The three pillars of the craft brewer definition remain the same; however, under the BA Board’s direction, some elements of each pillar have been modified to reflect the evolution within the industry.

2014 Craft Brewer Definition
An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.
• Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
• Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
• Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

2013 Craft Brewer Definition (replaced in 2014)
An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.
• Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Flavored malt beverages are not considered beer for purposes of this definition.
• Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
• Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

Here is what has changed and some context for the changes in simple language:
Small:
1. Moved FMB exclusion to the traditional part of the definition, where it belongs.
2. Added a parenthetical “(approximately 3% of annual U.S. sales)” to demonstrate that while 6 million can be perceived as a bigger number rather than small, it is indeed a small percentage of overall beer industry sales of approximately 200 million barrels.
Independent:
1. The revised definition cleans up language to align with common beverage alcohol terminology used throughout beer, wine and spirits, as well as FMBs.
Traditional:
1. The revised definition recognizes that adjunct brewing is traditional. The idea that brewers who had been in business for generations didn’t qualify as “traditional” simply did not cohere for many members. Brewers have long brewed with what has been available to them. (Since Brewers Association doesn’t define craft beer—that idea remains up to the beer drinker—the definition doesn’t differentiate on what type of beer craft brewers brew, as long as the majority of what they make is beer.) The revised definition also provides room for the innovative capabilities of craft brewers to develop new beer styles and be creative within existing beer styles.
2. The revised definition removes the subjective assessment by Brewers Association staff of whether adjuncts “enhance” or “lighten” flavor in a particular beer.
3. The part of the definition that clarifies that flavored malt beverages are not beer now resides in this pillar of the definition. It further clarifies that all beverage alcohol volume is part of the equation as to whether a brewer qualifies for inclusion in the craft brewer data set.
Purpose
Slightly revised, the Brewers Association now states its purpose as: To promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

The former purpose of the association stated: To promote and protect small and independent American brewers their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

The Brewers Association had “craft beers” in our former purpose, but no definition for “craft beers.” The definition now shows that our purpose is directed for small, independent American brewers and all of our beers.

Mission

The Brewers Association mission now states:
By 2020, America’s craft brewers will have more than 20 percent market share and will continue to be recognized as making the best beer in the world. We will:
• Promote access to raw materials and markets.
• Support research and advances in safety, sustainability, education, technology and raw materials.
• Exercise political influence to secure fair legislative and regulatory treatment.
• Foster the commitment to quality.
• Educate consumers to understand and champion beer from craft brewers.
• Cultivate new ideas and a commitment to a living and active beer culture among craft brewers, homebrewers and beer enthusiasts.

The replaced mission was:
By 2017, America’s craft brewers will have more than 10 percent market share, will be recognized as making the best beer in the world, will be able to obtain the ingredients and materials needed and will be politically influential enough to secure fair legislative and regulatory treatment for craft brewers.

As American craft brewers, our commitment to quality, vitality and diversity will continue to invigorate our country’s impressive brewing culture. Consumers will understand and support craft beer from true craft brewers. Our efforts will not only aid existing craft brewers, but also those who would come after, ensuring the continuing contribution of new ideas and individuals committed to a living and active beer culture.

The Board usually updates the mission during the biennial two-day Board visioning session to provide a future market share goal for craft brewers, and did so again during this two-day planning session. Here are the three changes:
• Twenty percent market share by 2020 is an aspirational goal for our craft brewing community.
• “Foster a commitment to quality” was added to acknowledge the vital importance of quality to the health of the craft brewing community.
• We reworded the section regarding “those who come after” to clarify the role of homebrewers and brewing enthusiasts in a living and active beer culture.

Core Values & Beliefs

Revised Core Values & Beliefs now read:
• Promoting and celebrating the small, independent, traditional and innovative culture of American craft brewers.
• Vigorously defending our industry and providing craft brewers with a unified voice.
• Fostering transparency within our own organization.
• Supporting and encouraging the responsible enjoyment of beer.
• Providing stewardship for 10,000 years of brewing history.
• Educating brewers and consumers about the diversity, flavor and quality of beer.
• Improving the economic health of American craft brewers.
• Working to build a collegial community of brewers, homebrewers and brewing enthusiasts.
• Promoting ethical and legal trade practices.
• Building relationships and collaborating with our industry partners.

Replaced Core Values & Beliefs read:
• Promoting and celebrating the small, independent and traditional culture of American craft brewers.
• Vigorously defending our industry.
• Supporting and encouraging the responsible enjoyment of beer.
• Providing stewardship for 10,000 years of brewing history.
• Educating brewers and consumers about the diversity, flavor and quality of beer.
• Improving the economic health of American craft brewers.
• Working to build a community of brewers and brewing enthusiasts to provide them with a unified voice.
• Promoting ethical and legal trade practices.
• Building relationships and collaborating with our industry partners.
• Fostering transparency within our own organization.

Here is a summary of changes to this foundational document. The word “innovative” was added to the first bullet point to recognize that cutting edge component of craft brewing. We moved “unified voice” to a more appropriate core value and belief. “Fostering transparency” moved up the list to show recognition of the importance of this value. “Collegial” was added to “community of brewers” and we clarified that homebrewers are a part of this group.