Brewers association

Brewers Association Updates Definition of Craft Brewers to Drive U.S. Innovation

A key implication of the change is that a brewer will no longer need to have the majority of their beer volumes to be considered craft, which the association says will support innovation.

The Brewers Association (BA) says that as craft brewers seek new sources of revenue and innovate in new areas, they are creating products that don’t fit the traditional definition of beer – but shouldn’t have to sacrifice their “craft brewer” status as a result.

“Definitions can and do evolve over time,” states the BA, which is the trade association for the American craft beer industry. “It goes hand in hand with the progress of a thriving culture. As new innovations occur, the Brewers Association must be positioned to support them in order to keep pace with the changing world of beer.

kombucha crafts

The main consequence of this change is that a brewer is no longer required to have the majority of their total alcohol volume in the beer to be considered a craft brewer.

A recent survey found that around 40% of brewers’ association members already make products that fall outside the “traditional” pillar, such as cider, mead, hard seltzer, sake or alcoholic kombucha. . More than half said they would consider making such products in the future.

And nearly half of those surveyed said they would consider making beers containing CBD or THC from cannabis, if regulations allowed.

“The ‘Traditional’ pillar required a craft brewer to have ‘the majority of their total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation'”explained Bart Watson, Chief Economist, BA.

“This has been replaced with a simpler ‘brewer’ pillar which requires a craft brewer to 1) be in possession of a TTB Brewer’s Notice and 2) brew beer.

“The main implication of this change is that a brewer is no longer required to have the majority of their total alcohol volume in the beer. This means that companies that produce in all categories of alcoholic beverages can be considered as craft brewers if they meet the other requirements: produce less than six million barrels (of beer worldwide) and remain independent.”

American Craft Brewer: As defined by the Brewers Association as of this month

Little​: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (about 3% of annual sales in the United States). Beer production is allocated to a brewer under alternate ownership rules.

Independent​: less than 25% of the craft brewer is owned or controlled (or an equivalent economic interest) by a member of the beverage alcohol industry who is not themselves a craft brewer.

Brewer​: Has a VF [Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau] Reviews of the brewer and beer factory.

(This third pillar replaces the former “Traditional” section which read: “Traditional – A brewer that uses the majority of its total alcohol volume in beers whose flavor comes from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation Flavored malt beverages (FMB) are not considered beers.”

Since the launch of the original BA Craft Brewer Definition in 2006, the craft brewing industry has more than tripled in size and market share.

The definition of craft brewers was changed in 2007, 2010 (when the definition of “small” was changed from 2 million to 6 million barrels) and 2014.

Craft beer controversy

This month’s change was offered to members in October with an invitation to comment and respond. The BA says the majority of respondents supported the updated definition, with no distinction between the opinions of different sizes or types of breweries.

But the proposed change came under fire from some brewers:who felt that the removal of the traditional component would signal an awareness of beer commodities and pander to the demands of large craft brewers who are increasingly turning to other products. They pointed out that the change in definition means that major craft brewer Boston Beer Company – producer of Sam Adams but also a number of other products – could retain its craft beer status.

In response to these concerns, the BA says the change in definition will become more important and relevant to a growing number of brewers as the category grows.

“This decision was not made because of Boston Beer, but the timing of the evaluation and review of the definition is related to Boston Beer. Other companies will face a similar situation in the years to come. and it’s only natural that the biggest small independent brewers get there first.

“Keeping one of our largest voting members, Boston Beer Company, on the craft data set strengthens the association’s case for storage space, government affairs capacity, and contributions to technical programs.”

Goal Post Changes: Craft Beer Category Measurement

Changing the definition of a craft brewer will alter the annual statistics produced by the BA, but Watson says it won’t make a huge difference to the overall numbers or artificially inflate the reported size of the category.

He estimates that 100 more producers will now be considered craft brewers: in the context of a total brewing industry of 7,000 breweries.

“In 2017, approximately 60 small brewers were left out of the craft brewer dataset due to the ‘traditional’ 50% requirement, primarily due to wine or mead production. “, he said.

“Although it is impossible to know how many companies would have been excluded from the 2018 dataset, it would probably be around 100 breweries, which will now be included.

The BA will create a comparable 2017 base when compiling its next set of statistics to take into account the change in definition.

“However, these changes will be small, likely in the range of 15,000 barrels, and will not have a significant impact on overall crafting share.”

More information about the new definition can be found here,and a FAQ page can be found here.