The news that independent craft brewers have created a seal to distinguish themselves from brands owned by beer giants like Budweiser-parent company AB InBev is creating controversy in the beer industry.
Six brewers whose companies have been acquired by AB InBev spoke out against the seal in a video released Friday.
The brewers argued that the “independent craft” seal is essentially meaningless. According to the brewers, independence is unrelated to craft beers’ quality.
“To be independent would mean you don’t put the logo on because you’re indie,” said David Buhler, the co-founder of Elysian, a Seattle-based brewer known for its former tagline, “Corporate Beer Still Sucks,” which was acquired by AB InBev in 2015.
“To be truly punk you don’t use the logo, you do your own thing, and you follow your own rules,” Buhler continued.
Further, the brewers, whose beers make up AB InBev’s High End line, said that beer brands need to stand together to take on competition from the growing wine and spirits categories.
“You guys are literally in-fighting, this is just a civil war. Meanwhile this armada of boats is coming across the Atlantic to crush us and we are shooting each other with, you know, muskets and sling-shots,” Walt Dickinson, a co-founder of Wicked Weed, which was acquired by AB InBev in May, said. “I was just hoping we could get back to just talking about beer, but I guess we’re not there yet — but hopefully soon.”
According to the Brewers Association, a group of 5,300 small and independent American craft brewers, drinkers want to know who is making their beer and value brewers’ independence.
“Independent craft brewers build communities and the spirit of independent ownership matters,” Bob Pease, the president and CEO of the Brewers Association, told Business Insider. “When beer lovers buy independent craft beer, they are supporting American entrepreneurs and the risk takers who have long strived not just to be innovative and make truly great beer, but to also build culture and community in the process.”
Here’s the full video of brewers from The High End, with their take on why independence isn’t necessarily crucial to craft beer: