Today, the Denver-based Brewers Association announced a new campaign with satirical overtones—a so-called crowdfunding effort to raise an improbable $213 billion in order to purchase multinational brewing giants Anheuser-Busch InBev. The Take Craft Back campaign, as it’s called, seems to be a publicity stunt with the goal in mind of promoting the BA’s #1 objective in the last few years: the “independence” of American craft brewers in a time when Big Beer has been acquiring a large number of regional breweries. You can watch the kickoff video of the campaign immediately below:
Obviously, this is not a serious attempt to complete an actual acquisition of AB InBev, so if you see your friends on Facebook misunderstanding the campaign, please dissuade them of that notion. Rather, this campaign is in general a dig at Big Beer’s acquisitions in the beer market since 2011 when AB InBev purchased Goose Island, which started a domino cascade that has lasted until today. In that time, AB InBev has acquired 10 breweries, including the likes of Golden Road, Wicked Weed, Four Peaks and Devil’s Backbone, while MillerCoors has acquired a few of its own in the form of Terrapin and Saint Archer. More than anything, the BA fears the ability of AB InBev or MillerCoors to use their distribution muscle to force local craft options off the shelves of liquor stores or out of bar tap handles, replacing them with formerly “craft” options now owned wholly by Big Beer. The campaign seeks to educate the consumer base, which is the most important step the BA can take—if the consumer doesn’t know that Wicked Weed, Four Peaks or Elysian are owned by AB InBev, they can’t exactly be expected to care about it.
This is also why the Brewers Association introduced its “independent craft beer” seal earlier in 2017, which is intended to show consumers at a glance that a brewery meets the BA’s criteria for independent ownership. Earlier this month at the BA’s largest annual event, the Great American Beer Festival, evidence of adoption of the seal could be seen at numerous breweries, and the organization was pushing hard to bring that number even higher. At one point, I was able to speak with craft beer program director Julia Herz, in a conversation that touched on several of these topics.
It should be noted that due to the somewhat satirical nature of this crowdfunding campaign, the BA isn’t actually accepting donations … excepting if they somehow, magically make it to $213 billion, the odds of which are astronomically small. With that said, they are rewarding those who pledge to make a contribution (a symbolic contribution) with free swag, which involves a choice of stickers, hat or shirt. So in reality, the headline above could read “The Brewers Association is giving away free hats and shirts,” which is fine with us.
Check out the full website for the Take Craft Back campaign right here.