Fake Craft Beer

Fake Craft BeerThere will be no shortage of beer advertisements during the Super Bowl on Sunday, including the always much anticipated one featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales. You know Budweiser isn’t a craft beer, but you might be fooled by fake craft beer.

We shared the Brewers Association (BA) definition of craft beer (Craft Beer Growth), and BA is using the word “crafty” to describe the brewing behemoths’ products that are marketed to compete in the growing craft beer arena. This includes Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top and Blue Moon, now part of SAB Miller.

No Intent to Deceive About Craft Beer

BA’s board is calling for transparency and including the parent companies on beer labels, so consumers aren’t led to believe that they’re buying from and subsequently supporting a small brewer. In “Craft beer or crafty pretenders?” by the Washington Post’s Greg Kitsock, larger brewer representatives insist there is no intent to deceive and that, for example, the name Blue Moon Belgian White rather than Coors Belgian White is analogous to the relationship between the Lexus brand and Toyota.

The issue became more complicated and certainly became a sticking point for BA when Consumer Reports gave a Best Buy stamp of approval to Shock Top Wheat IPA in the craft beer category. Ironically, sales of this beer didn’t make the grade and production was halted before the Consumer Reports issue hit the newsstand.

In response to the criticism of big brewers developing craft, craft-like, or crafty beers, MillerCoors CEO, Tom Long, asked to be judged by the beer, not the name, label or marketing. In CNNOpinion’s “Judge brewers by their beer,” he wrote: “While we may be big, we are still a company of beer people who take great pride in our beer culture and heritage, tracing our roots to two visionary immigrant entrepreneurs who opened breweries in the mid-19th century, Frederick Miller and Adolph Coors.

“We’re also proud of our craft heritage. Nearly a quarter century ago, we acquired the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., which was making great beers, but struggling financially like many smaller brewers of that era. Leinie’s, as it’s affectionately known, was founded in 1867, and we promised we weren’t presumptuous enough to tell it how to brew its beers.

“As a large brewer, we do not view the emergence of craft beer as a threat, because we know that innovation is essential to the American beer industry. In fact, we appreciate the vital role craft beers play within our industry. And we believe it’s good for beer that there are more breweries and more brands available to American beer drinkers than at any other time in U.S. history.

“We’re determined to continue to play a leading role in that innovation. And whatever style beer you might prefer, all we ask is that you judge us by the quality of the beer in the glass.”

So whether you lift a glass of Budweiser, Shock Top, Coors Light, Blue Moon Belgian White, Goose Island, or any other “fake” craft beer, or a glass of Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head or any other true craft beer, the thing that matters most is the product in the glass… and whether or not the team you’re cheering for wins the game.

Now how much you’re willing to pay for a coveted craft beer is another matter. (Stay tuned to learn more about the craft beer black market.)