THE BEER BEAT: Indie, not craft, because “There is absolutely NOTHING ‘independent’ about AB/InBev.”


It gladdens this curmudgeon’s heart to see another principled columnist — in this case, The Pour Fool — embrace a personal change in terminology.

I haven’t gone cold turkey on the “craft” descriptor, and find myself using the word here and there (usually in quotation marks, as intended to emphasis the escalating irony), but zero tolerance is a worthy goal to which we might aspire.

As an aside: My current desire to get back into the pub business is being predicated toward what I consider to be “better” beer — much of it “indie,” some “craft”; some retro chic and classics.

At any rate, Pour Fool rocks.

“INDIE BEER”: Change is the Best Weapon, by stevefoolbody (The Pour Fool)

… But the term “indie” – short, of course, for “independent” – is a claim that AB/InBev and the BudMillerCoors brands they now control can never plausibly make. There is absolutely NOTHING “independent” about AB/InBev. They’ll work out a rationalization for it eventually, of course; something along the lines of “Hey, we’re independent! Nobody owns any part of our company but us!” But that claim is so patently ridiculous that you’d have to have the IQ of lawn trimmings to even consider it. “Craft” does, in fact, describe the process at Bud’s breweries; maybe not in the same sense as at Dogfish and Stone and Jolly Pumpkin and Lawson’s, but it is inarguable that brewing is a “craft” and that AB does practice that craft, even if it is in a fucked-up, mechanized, soulless, billion-gallon batch, freakazoid manner. “Indie” means what it says: A small, independent, self-perpetuating business enterprise that relies on no corporate sugar-daddy for its survival. It is certainly true that not all of us involved in the “craft beer culture” can agree on what a “craft brewery” is but one thing about which there is NO argument is that a craft brewery is NOT a subsidiary of any larger corporate entity, being kept afloat by their owners’ deep pockets. It’s about the pride in ownership and creativity that has been the hallmark of America’s craft breweries since the whole phenomenon started. It is about not having business and aesthetic decisions influenced by board rooms full of gabardine-clad, Windsor-knotted, bean-countin’ shit-weasels, as is absolutely the case with AB.

A little more than a year ago (February 16, 2016), I was on much the same tangent.

Craft Beer is dead. Long live Indie Beer. It’s about “supporting local small business rather than a global entity.”

To me, “craft” beer’s conceptual basis always has been, and should remain, localism.

The inevitable rejoinder: “You’re not using local ingredients, therefore you’re not local.” However, just as there are many styles of beer, there are differing ways of principled thinking.

The finished value of any product can be the result of individualized local creativity rather than widespread, industrialized production; accordingly, a substantial local component is present even if local hops are not. After all, beer doesn’t often brew itself.

This isn’t the most important point, because an independently-owned local brewery is an independently-owned local business, and the positive economic factors for independent local businesses in their communities are one and the same.

Sorry, but if you’re buying Goose Island at Wal-Mart, you might be missing the point in multiple areas. Let’s work to make shift happen — indie breweries, indie middlemen.

Often I’ve pointed to organizations like AMIBA and BALLE, and asked skeptics to visit their web sites and consider the information therein. My impression is this seldom happens, probably because it takes less time to post a selfie with Bourbon County than read a few pages of economic facts.

Bizarrely, unfamiliarity with the economic realities of independent local business might be expected of consumers in general, but often it’s something not understood by folks who own their own small businesses. Must we cut our own throats?

Meanwhile, I like this vibe coming out of San Diego. May it take root, and convince readers to go back to first principles.

Craft is dead. Now we drink Indie Beer: As Big Beer creeps into town, locals want to change the lingo, by Ian Anderson (San Diego Reader)

The term Craft Beer may be in need of a makeover. The Union-Tribune reported this week that Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co. has proposed a 10,000-square-foot brewpub in East Village. In response, local beer industry podcasters have doubled down on a push to describe independently owned breweries as Indie Beer companies, rather than craft.

A couple of individuals have tried to coin the term Indie Beer before, but they had different reasons.

Not because 10 Barrel hails from Oregon but because in 2014 the company was purchased by AB InBev, the conglomerate responsible for one-third of the planet’s beer supply, including core brands Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois. It owns 10 Barrel brewpubs in Oregon and Idaho and recently announced plans for one in Denver.

The podcasters’ believe consumers who patronize 10 Barrel brewpubs mistakenly believe they are supporting small business rather than a global entity …