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Brewers of Budweiser’s “The High End” respond to the new “Independent” seal

This week, the Brewer’s Association, a not-for-profit trade group dedicated to small and independent breweries in America, launched a new seal. The “Independent Craft” seal can be licensed for free, designating a brewery’s independence.

For a little insight, the Brewers Association intends this move to create more transparency when it comes to brewery ownership. For instance (and something you will see in the comments below), one of the most controversial purchases this year is the Anheuser Busch’s acquisition of Wicked Weed. Wicked Weed will continue to brew as normal, and be sold under the Wicked Weed Brewing name, even though the ownership has changed.

For the Brewers Association, which fiercely supports the small and independent brewers, this move lacks consumer clarity. Thus, the “indie” seal.

Today, brewers that make up “The High End,” the series of breweries that AB InBev has purchased over the past fews years (Goose Island, Devil’s Backbone, Four Peaks, etc), have a response to the seal.

The responses range from, “the beer tells the story,” to, “we will always support the craft beer industry,” to responses that are a little more salty – “that logo doesn’t mean shit to me.”  You’ll find a little bit of animosity towards the Brewers Association in the “Six Viewpoints from The High End” below:

David Buhler – Elysian 

“What would I do, because it’s about my brewery and my people and as a team of graphic designers and packaging on that side of the business and what we do — I thought how I would use it and how would I use it and what are the decision that other breweries across the country are doing right now looking at this logo. Is this logo a mandate for breweries to put on their labels that are not part of “big beer?” Does this logo designate something like quality? Does it differentiate anything about what the beer is or how it is perceived by consumers – because it’s all about the consumers, the consumer is what drives our businesses, right?”

Walt Dickinson – Wicked Weed 

“I mean at the end of the day we are all making beer, we are all brewers, whether you want to call us craft or not craft or whatever. I’m pretty sure Pernicious was a craft IPA like 2 months ago and I’m pretty sure it’s a craft IPA now, right? So we’re all doing the same thing – we are beer. We are fighting this bigger battle which is wine and spirits and we are losing margin every year to them, and so they have to be looking at us and just laughing, thinking this is just — why are you throwing us a bone right now? 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. So what’s the point? We need to band together and grow this market as a whole and if we do that everyone has a great space in the market, right? Small independents like us innovate, they get a platform from a strategic to take those great ideas and take them to a bigger market and create new consumers and grow the space as a whole and what does that do? It opens up more spaces for innovation and good product wins. So that’s the point of this whole thing. You know, I was just hoping we could get back to just talking about beer, but I guess we’re not there yet — but hopefully soon.”

Garrett Wales – 10 Barrel 

“At the end of the day the beer does the talking, not the label on the package, and the consumer makes up their own mind.  The problem is that the BA continues to refuse to let the consumer make up their own mind and try to make it up for them. They have a little bottle that someone told me “that’s what I have to buy” because there is a bottle on the six packs – but that doesn’t mean shit to me.”

Andy Ingram – Four Peaks 

“There are clear threats from wine and spirits out there that, whether we are being willful and not noticing that or we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves, there is a clear present danger out there, there are storm clouds on the horizon for the beer industry. Some people think its top heavy — I don’t, I think we can  sustain a lot more — but we are not going to be able to do that if we are divided. I think that is a key role going forward that the BA needs to focus on, as well as getting back to quality. When a major trade organization is saying it doesn’t matter whats in your glass as long as it’s independent, and they’re telling consumers that, then that’s a big issue, you’re saying go ahead and drink crap just as long as you don’t support the big guys. And it’s not heathy and not a good way going forward.”

Felipe Szpigel – The High End  

“And now comes this piece on- you know independence, and for me the real thinking behind independence is that consumers don’t necessarily care about independence. What they care about is, what is the impact that small businesses have on the communities? And are the communities being better? Think about our partners, the amount of support we give locally, the amount of jobs that we provide locally by keeping on investing on our own partners. By the responsible things we do in terms of drinking or connecting to communities or natural resources and giving back – honestly I see no other brewer that does as much as we do. That makes me proud. And I think that’s what we are going to tell our consumers. That at the end that’s what really matters behind being independent or being small — is doing the best for your community or the communities… I’m proud of what we do and our partners do in the communities that we are in.”

Steve Crandall – Devils Backbone  

“We are going to continue being the same guys we have always been. We are going to continue offering the best possible beers and occasions to our consumers that we have always done and we are always going to support the craft beer industry.”

David Buhler – Elysian 

“Well to be independent would mean you don’t put the logo on because you’re indie. So to be truly punk you don’t use the logo, you do your own thing and you follow your own rules.”

 

  • StephenBody

    It figures that all these comments would be attempting to deflect attention away from the seal and do this disingenuous baloney of claiming not to know what the seal actually represents. Let me spell it out for these twits: NO, it does not represent guaranteed beer quality. YES, it VERY much represents the character and independence and QUALITY of mission of those brewers who use that seal. THAT is what it says: “We’re a small, independent pruducer of beers and we stand on our own two feet, without compromising our principles or the trust of our culture”

    It’s insane how fast these AB sell-outs adopt the party line. Does AB have them in for an electro-shock reprogramming therapy? These are people who, not long ago, were running genuine craft breweries and now they’re this clueless, boggled pack of shnt-weasels who are evangelicaly selling the AB perspective? What happens to them? Here’s what I think: they get an offer from AB and that offer is more naked cash than any of them ever expected to see in their entire lives. They tamp down HARD on their principles, take the dough, and then that curious thing happens that we find in about 98% of all the nouveau riche: they start thinking that they’re smarter than everybody else because they “made it”. They are, at first, a bit properly chastened when craft beer fans start howling about their abandonment of their culture and offer a lot of those palliative bullshit statements about “our new partnership” and “nothing will change” and “now we’ll be able to make MORE beer and it will be BETTER!” and “we’re excited!”…but, somehow, that excitement ALWAYS seems a tad defensive, as though we’re all obligated to be excited, too, and we’re bad people for not climbing onboard. But they quickly become sick of that because, hey, these people are harshing my buzz, man! Then they get combative and start embracing their new AB-lackey status as a virtue, become just as culturally myopic as their corporate masters, and start to piss and moan about anything in their FORMER culture to which they are no longer entitled. It figures that Buhler, the village idiot of this bunch, would be front ‘n’ center, with his usual transparent waif-like nonsense like “Does this logo designate something like quality? Does it differentiate anything about what the beer is or how it is perceived by consumers – because it’s all about the consumers, the consumer is what drives our businesses, right?” But his biggest howler is right there at the end: ““Well to be independent would mean you don’t put the logo on because you’re indie. So to be truly punk you don’t use the logo, you do your own thing and you follow your own rules.” There are two meanings to the word “punk” and Buhler used to represent the better, more uber-hip version. Now. Elys**n just reflects the old definition as a posturing street urchin who affects toughness and hostility while actually being ineffectual and superficial.

    If these guys were so effin’ concerned with things like this label and its implications, they HAD a sure-fire remedy: don’t take the easy way out. Don’t sell off your customers and your community and remain independent and principled. THEN, they’d be using the label and, I guarantee, all would say it’s the greatest idea since aerosol cheese. What all these people had in common was that they were overly-ambitious, in a way out of proportion to their products and abilities. That stupidity took different forms. Buhler and Bisacca, as well as Dickinson and the two twerps from Golden Road, were just old-fashioned, white trash lazy and wanted to become the next Sam Adams, when NONE of them made beers that even hinted at Adams’ market appeal. Elys**n is here in a corner of the country that remains, despite the quality of beers made here and the whoppin’ nubers of breweries, virtually unknown to much of America. Dickinson was located in a city of 85,000, hundreds of miles from any urban center, in an isolated mountain valley, and tried to grow in a way that breweries in Portland and Denver and Seattle would consider rash. The Golden Road twits were just servicing a vast sense of LA-species hyper-entitlement that had them convinced they could make crap beer and still become the next Stone or Dogfish. Go down the list and you’ll find every one had some unrealistic vision of what they were destined to be and an equally idiotic vision of what they all KNEW would be the consequences of their decision to sell to the sworn enemy of the culture that all CLAIMED to love and which did, in fact, allow them to become multi-millionaires. If the deacon of the local church, who owns the town’s hardware store, the man of unimpeachable character, sleeps with whores on the weekend and the town finds out, what happens to that guy? That is this situation in a nutshell: these guys laid down with whores and now they have their noses pressed to the window, whining about what they can’t have. Wassamatter, boys? All that lovely money isn’t enough? You should have thought about that BEFORE you greased up and bent over.

    • Barley wino

      #barleywineislife. Go flummox yourself, egghead.

      • StephenBody

        I win, you lose. dickhead. #BiBS

    • TrumpRulz

      Gratuitous use of commas aside, I agree with StephenBody. You guys should leave AB alone and let the continue their fine work.

      • DownwithAB

        What the heck? AB is wrecking the industry. AB and their supporters like this “StephenBody” are everything that’s wrong with the beer industry.

        • TrumpRulz

          Shut up hipster. The reason educated people like Mr. Body like AB is because he recognizes their good work. Sorry this offends your PBR you putz.

          • So I’m reading a big long passionate anti-AB post by StephenBody, and then also the comments underneath it talking about him standing up for AB, and I’m confused.

    • LoveTrumpLoveGuns

      Yes! Finally, someone not afraid to stand up for AB! Thank you Mr. Body! So tired of all these millenials snowflakes and their microbrews.

    • Godblesstrump

      Spoken like a true Trump supporter. Well done, sir!

    • ABLover

      You tell them stephenbody. It’s so “cool” to hate what’s popular anymore. I admire you taking a stand for quality over the elitist beer “connoisseurs” that are all the rage. Appreciate you sticking up for old faithful AB InBev. If you had a blog or something, I’d totally read.

    • Beerqueer

      Thanks for spelling it out for those twits. I hope you speak to a few brewers of note.
      Your writing is fantastic, sir. Have you considered writing professionally?

    • Matt Sallee
    • Bodyputmetosleep

      Jesus…
      Listen, Stephen.
      When it comes to writing, try and remember this advice:
      QUALITY NOT QUANTITY

      Now get off of your imaginary high horse and STFU.

    • Kevin B.

      Clearly these eggheads don’t understand the QUALITY that comes along with the SIX THOUSAND AND COUNTING brewers around the country who brew AMAZING BEER INDEPENDENTLY without the need of any sort of QA. These SELL OUTS don’t APPRECIATE the QUALITY of beer once they are part of BIG BEER and everything they put out has gone nothing but DOWNHILL since they SOLD OUT TO THE MAN. I can get PREVIOUSLY WORLD CLASS BUT NOT ANYMORE BECAUSE SELL OUTS beer at my local liquor store by my house in Tennessee after I run out of moonshine but I REFUSE TO DO SO and prefer to drink the swill of the locals because this is MERICA and I’m INDEPENDENT. Now let’s shoot some GUNS AND CELEBRATE THIS GREAT COUNTRY THIS WEEKEND WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    • Bryan McClullan

      Barleywine Is Life, Egghead!

    • Anthony Tonygoodtimes Ferretti

      #bil

  • John Williamson

    Barleywine is Life

  • Richard Cooke

    The only thing said in the video that was the truth was “At the end of the day the beer does the talking..” easily said when the ‘high end – craft beer’ gets big beer distribution… that is where the civil war really is – distribution – bad beer will not sell, but good beer will – if it can be distributed … how about a video on THAT?

    • MisterLiteral

      The biggest problem I have found when craft brewers are bought-out and drastically increase their distribution model, the quality of the beer suffers. This happens for various reasons, such as lower quality ingredients, not enough availability of the quality ingredients, lower standards for quality because they are expected to put out a certain amount of product in less time, etc.

      Whatever the reason, InBev does not care about the end product, only about their margins and market share percentage.

  • Chris Anderson

    One resounding thing I have heard from brewers is the questioning of the choice of an upside down bottle. This kinda tends to denote dumping or potentially something negative. Additionally, continually things are moving towards cans so why the choice of a bottle? Just some critiques based solely on my own OCD and I can say I was geeking on the logo. The best thing we can do as independent brewers is focus on quality and do so with every drop of liquid produced. This is the best way to combat big beer. There is a reason why CBC and any educational effort industry wide is largely focused on Quality. Brew great liquids and let beer quality speak to your brands legitimacy in the market.

    • Alex Miller

      Because a silhouette of a bottle is very distinct, where as a can silhouette looks like a random rectangle.

  • MisterLiteral

    I believe these brewers quoted can learn something valuable by the way Oscar Blues conducts business vs how InBev does. InBev’s intentions to influence the craft beer scene are as transparent as their beer; either buy out craft brewers or tries push them out of business because they’ve seen their market share cut by a few percentage points.

  • Barleywino

    As longe as their not makin arrogint bastard in that imbev, I can dye happy.

  • Matt Culberson

    Wow, who knew you turned into a full-on political speaking corporate shill when you sell out? I can’t believe how unashamed they are in their smugness. The seal is a brilliant idea. Craft beer isn’t “under attack” by wine/spirits, at least in the regard they would lead us to believe. Big Beer however, is absolutely declaring war on craft beer, and these jackasses are officially on the bad guys’ team now. Sorry. As much as I hate it, buh bye.

  • Tim

    This is a response to Walt Dickinson-Wicked Weed and his statement”We need to band together and grow this market as a whole and if we do that everyone has a great space in the market, right? Small independents like us innovate, they get a platform from a strategic to take those great ideas and take them to a bigger market and create new consumers and grow the space as a whole and what does that do? It opens up more spaces for innovation and good product wins. So that’s the point of this whole thing.”

    If this is truly what you and Wicked Weed believe, why has AB decided not to sell their South African Hops to Independent Brewers and Home Brewers. That doesn’t sound like banding together for the mutual benefit of Brewers. Sounds like the beginnings of a monopoly.

    Why doesn’t AB help distribute Independent Brewers Beers. Their trucks go to all major cities, why not throw a few cases of a small independent breweries beers on their trucks. I understand it would have to be good beer, but as people have said let the market decide.

    AB is out to crush the small independent brewers with your help and stifle “innovation” unless it is your own. You are no longer Wicked Weed but are subsidiary of AB.