The Brewers Association's New Independent Seal
The bottle I was holding was from a seemingly innocuous-sounding small brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I'd never heard of them before but the beer sounded interesting so I did what I always do when I come across things like this: I went on an extensive Googling safari to pinpoint exactly who or what owns this brewery. Funny hat included.
And here we are again, back to the much less innocuous fight between big and little beer. It's all good, though, because the Brewers Association, (BA) has come up with a way we can easily tell if a brewery fits their craft beer definition, thus ending my wandering the Google jungles with a torch and a pitchfork. Pitchforks are pointy and I don't like to draw attention to myself if it isn't absolutely necessary.
In the past few years it has been difficult to tell sometimes if a craft brewery is truly "craft" or if it just looks like it in hopes you won't question things or care too much and buy it anyway, (a somewhat enviable position because every once in a while I just want to buy a beer and drink it and not think so hard about all this stuff). And the truth is that there are lots of people out there that really don't mind and think we're all a bunch of high-maintenance weirdos for giving such a hoot. I get that.
But there are also lots of us out there that can't ignore how we feel about the whole situation. In response to that, the Brewers Association has come up with a new seal that any independent brewery can apply for, for free, (for now) and they don't even have to have their labels or packaging re-approved to use it.
So, now the challenge is just to get every small, independent, craft brewery that meets the craft brewer definition as set forth by the BA to apply and use it on their marketing materials.
I'd really like to see this used on menus at beer bars as well. I already go to a few that serve both big and little beer, and although I have a pretty good idea of what's what, a quick look at the seal would reaffirm what I know. And then I can spend more time drinking and less time navigating the Google aether, which is almost always a good thing.
Start looking for the new seal on bottles, cans and the marketing materials of your favorite local breweries and if they tell you they haven't looked into it yet, give them a little push! As I said, it's free, it's easy to apply and then they can start independenc-ing themselves all over the place.
Your craft beer fans will thank you.