What makes a craft brewery a CRAFT brewery? The short answer is the size, but thanks to the Boston Beer Company you don’t have to be so small anymore…
“Though it may not be a big deal to consumers, the Brewers Association saved itself some headaches with a recent decision to modify its bylaws. The association announced today that it has increased the production ceiling in which a brewery may produce beer and still qualify as a “craft brewery.” The number, set to two million barrels annually for the past three decades, has been increased to six million barrels.
The only brewery that is currently impacted by the change is Boston Beer Co. (Samuel Adams). The next closest craft brewery is Sierra Nevada Brewing and, at fewer than 800,000 barrels, it would likely not have been impacted by the limit for at least another ten years. Even with the number tripling, the Brewers Association may need to re-visit the rule again by 2025 should current Boston Beer growth trends continue through the next decade and beyond.”
So, why does this matter? The Boston Beer Co.’s entire brand is based around the idea of being a craft beer and you can bet your ass they have the money to hire lobbyists to make sure it stays that way, no matter how big they get.
It began in founder Jim Koch’s kitchen using his grandfather’s recipe. The beer created that day in 1984 is now the famous Sam Adams Boston Lager. He began by going door to door handing out samples. Within 6 weeks it was named the best beer in America by The Great American Beer Festival’s consumer preference poll.
I expected this guy to be an egomaniac. Instead, I found him to be completely endearing, warm, and authentic. Here is an interview with him from CNBC’s YouTube channel:
However, he may not be the everyman’s grandfather he appears to be in that interview. In fact, he is kind of creepy:
“Along with handing out bottles of Sam Adams to contestants who stopped by the studio to take a break from having sex in cabs, ATM vestibules, and the Disney Store, Koch also served as the contest’s official “celebrity” voyeur. That meant if couples had sex in front of Koch, they were awarded 30 points (by comparison, sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral was worth 25 points).
According to the audio clips… Koch watched as five couples attempted to obtain those 30 points (only two, um, succeeded). While Koch said he felt embarrassed for the three couples who failed to complete the act before him, he told Opie and Anthony that the competitors were, ‘awesome, all of ’em, better teams. The quality gets better every year.’“
Now, Koch is a member of the Forbes billionaire list and pushing the limits of what a craft beer business can become. The entire craft beer movement owes a lot to him, but can he really still be considered a craft brewer?
What do you think?