Excluding small, independent brewers from being considered ‘craft’ just because they used corn or rice in their beers made no sense, the US Brewers Association told media at the Craft Brewers Conference.
The Brewers Association last year updated its definition of ‘craft brewer’ to include producers that use adjuncts – ingredients other than water, malt, hops and yeast – in a majority of their beers.
The rule change saw eight new brewers recognised by the association and ushered in D.G. Yuengling and Son as the country’s top craft brewery by sales volume ahead of the new number two, Boston Beer Co.
Asked to explain the decision, Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson said that excluding brewers based on the ingredients they used “did not sit well” with its board of directors.
“Craft brewers have a long history of using innovative ingredients and a variety of ingredients are traditional in particular regional styles that brewers use,” Watson said.
“Many of these companies have a long brewing history in the US. Yuengling for example is the longest family-owned brewery in the US, so excluding them under a traditional tier didn’t sit well with our board of directors.”
The association considers itself a steward of 10,000 years of brewing history and culture, added director Paul Gatza.
“The exclusion of certain brewers based on using adjunct grains such as corn or rice really fits more the German Reinheitsgebot, the German beer purity laws of 1516 and not 10,000 years of brewing culture, where brewers brewed with whatever they could get their hands on,” he said.
“They didn’t brew with hops for millenia because they didn’t know what hops were. It’s a longer picture we’re taking now with the way the ‘craft brewers’ definition has evolved.”
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