But in the midst of his 45-minute presentation to something like 300 beer industry types he rolled over the rock labeled “movement” and suggested “craft beer” could eventually account for 70 percent of all beer sales. Seventy percent. At that point perhaps we might be able to agree to just call it beer.
Brewbound has the details. “Are we really doing what we can to educate consumers about brewers, styles and brands or are we confusing them so much that they will go to something that is easier for them?” Thomas said. And here’s the nut, when he draws a parallel to Starbucks and the evolution of the coffee industry. “Is this a movement and not a trend?” Are we on the cusp of a brave new world?”
Two important bits of context. First the Brewers Association does not define the CBA breweries — including Redhook Ale Brewery and Widmer Brothers, which were among the first “microbreweries” in the Northwest — as craft breweries because AB InBev owns a considerable stake of each. Second, Thomas was talking to members of the trade, not the couple at the local hamburger joint enjoying a locally brewed beer and not the guys lined up at the beer store for the latest limited release.
So on to the rant (worthy of a passage in “The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer – A Rant in Nine Acts”) as channeled through Brewbound:
“We have the honor of having two pioneering craft brands in our portfolio,” Thomas said, referencing Widmer Brothers and Redhook. “Yet, an industry association doesn’t consider us ‘craft.’ Isn’t it time that we stop acting like 13-year olds? That we stop taking ourselves too serious and start talking to consumers and retailers again?”
Thomas elaborated, drawing a link between the socialization models of young adults – the “jocks, stoners and nerds in high school” — and maturing craft brewers.
“We label; we operate in cliques,” he said. “Are you a craft brewer? Did your equity come from a certain place? Do you not use certain ingredients? Name-calling, labeling, craft versus crafty.”
And then he issued a challenge, which seems like it should be an animated gif.
“Don’t bash beer,” he said.
Thomas pled for all members of the beer industry to stop the infighting.
“Don’t elevate yourselves by cutting someone else down,” he said. “Don’t make someone question their beer.”
He emphasized his point, over and over again.
“Don’t bash beer,” he said. “Don’t bash craft beer. Don’t bash crafty beer. Don’t bash domestic beer. Don’t bash imported beer. Don’t bash light beer. Don’t bash brands. Don’t bash brewers. Don’t bash beer consumers. Don’t bash retailers or wholesalers. Don’t bash beer — celebrate beer.”
To reiterate, he wasn’t calling for everybody who talks (and writes) about beer to join hands around the campfire and sing only songs of praise. This was a message to the trade. So feel free to dis that beer in your glass if it deserves the dontdrinkbeer treatment.