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Sam Adams Getting Too Big for it’s Barley

by David Lauterbach
2009 May 29
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The Washington Post has an interesting article about the largest small-brewer of them all, Sam Adams. Perhaps as early as this year Boston Beer–the brewers of Samuel Adams–will no longer be considered a craft brewer.

The Brewers Association (the small-brewers’ trade group) defines a “craft brewery” as one that’s small, independent and traditional, and “small” specifically means “annual production of beer less than 2 million barrels.” Boston Beer shipped 1.992 million barrels last year. Two million barrels is the max for “the small brewers tax differential,” which essentially equals a much smaller tax-per-barrel on beer.

Jim Koch, President of Sammy A and beer-lover, considers that an “arbitrary and irrelevant” criterion. “I don’t think the IRS should be determining what craft beer is,” he asserts.

Boston Beer meets the other conditions of being a craft brewer. It doesn’t lighten its beers with corn and rice, and it isn’t partly or wholly owned by an alcohol producer that isn’t itself a craft brewer.

The article also touches on another point that has always pissed me off… companies like A-B and Coors who hide behind “smaller” names.  I am constantly telling Coors haters with a Blue Moon in their hand that the Blue Moon Brewing Company is a beard for Molson-Coors Brewing.  And some new info for me, the Green Valley Brewing Co., supposed maker of organic beers Stone Creek Pale Ale and Wild Hop is actually Anheuser-Busch InBev (now owned by foreign overlords… just like Molson-Coors and SAB Miller.  See Who Owns What?).

So is it true?  Is Sam too big to be a “craft” beer?  Jim Koch likes to remind people that size is relative. Anheuser-Busch spills more beer in a year than he brews, he has often insisted. Sam Adams accounts for only about 0.5 percent of U.S. beer consumption.

So what do you think?

You can read the full WP article here.

Pardon us while we pay for beer...

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[…] industry’s largest craft brewer, is the most likely candidate to benifit from this change. In 2008 they shipped 1.9 million barrels (a barrel is 31 U.S. gallons) almost slipping out of the “craft” category. In 2010, we […]