The value of in­de­pen­dence

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Editor’s Note -

We don’t jump into the pol­i­tics of the craft-beer world much, and that’s by de­sign. There are plenty of me­dia out­lets that do, but we pre­fer to stay fo­cused on the stuff that we think mat­ters most—the beer it­self and the artistry and craft be­hind how it’s made.

A trio of re­cent an­nounce­ments has made it harder and harder to avoid the ques­tion of pol­i­tics and own­er­ship in craft beer, how­ever—first, the ac­qui­si­tion by AB-INBEV of beloved Asheville, North Carolina, brewer Wicked Weed, then the an­nounce­ment that the South African hops farm ac­quired by AB-INBEV in its re­cent merger with Sabmiller would no longer sell its unique fla­vor and aroma hops to Amer­i­can craft brew­ers, and fi­nally the news that ABIn­bev’s ven­ture cap­i­tal arm had pur­chased a stake in beer rat­ings web­site Rate­beer.com.

Add th­ese to the stake AB-INBEV owns in North­ern Brewer/mid­west Sup­plies, Pi­co­brew, its own beer blog The Beer Ne­ces­si­ties, plus the stake it owns in the new beer web­site Oc­to­ber, and an interesting pat­tern starts to emerge. Con­trol­ling data, con­trol­ling me­dia cov­er­age, and con­trol­ling raw ma­te­ri­als are new fronts in the on­go­ing bat­tle against craft beer, and “win­ning” in that bat­tle for mind­share can be as sim­ple as con­vinc­ing peo­ple that the line be­tween macro and craft doesn’t mat­ter.

Given the im­pact on small and in­de­pen­dent brew­ers we care about, we can’t shy away from talk­ing about th­ese sub­jects any longer, es­pe­cially when they hit so close to home. For more de­tails about the South African hops de­ba­cle, see “Killing Craft?” (page 61), and for an il­lus­trated guide to the spread­ing ten­ta­cles of big beer, check out our in­fo­graphic (page 11).

It’s nat­u­ral to ask the ques­tion of all me­dia to­day whether they’re in­volved with AB-INBEV, given just how ag­gres­sive it’s been in mak­ing ac­qui­si­tions in the space (and re­main­ing silent about those in­vest­ments). So on that note, we’ll put our cards on the ta­ble. Craft Beer & Brew­ing Mag­a­zine® is owned en­tirely by the in­di­vid­ual staff listed on the mast­head to the right of this note. We’re 100 per­cent em­ployee-owned.

We are bi­ased to­ward craft, and we’ll read­ily ad­mit it. We launched this mag­a­zine to cel­e­brate the work and tech­niques of brew­ers we ad­mired, from the small­est in­de­pen­dent craft brew­ers to large-scale pro­duc­tion craft brew­ers who stay true to the quirky and cre­ative vi­sions with which they launched. We in­tend to re­main fo­cused on those cre­ative driv­ers in the beer world, too, be­cause they’re the ones mov­ing the con­ver­sa­tion for­ward, push­ing bound­aries, and show­ing us all just what craft beer can be­come. The def­i­ni­tion of “craft” might be messy and im­pre­cise and sub­ject to on­go­ing re­vi­sion, but as an or­ga­niz­ing phi­los­o­phy we be­lieve that it mat­ters now more than ever.

Whether your goal is to launch and sell a brew­ery for a huge pay­day or qui­etly and con­sis­tently brew great beer for the peo­ple you care about, I hope you en­joy this is­sue. We made it for you.

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