Once we’ve sealed the freezers and finished up each Friday, we gather around our shady picnic table for “beer share”. Each week, two new people bring in beer of their choice for us to try, enjoy, and critique (rarely) as we start up a game of Kan Jam. There’s no shortage of craft beer in the Northeast; yet, in a typical liquor store we run into the same issues as in the grocery meat aisle.
A recent piece on NPR’s The Salt, “Craft Beer, Brought To You By Big Beer”, explores how much of the grocery beer aisle is owned by a few “Big Beer” companies. From Lagunitas (owned by Heineken) to Goose Island (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev) many brands we consider “craft”, niche finds are supported by corporate ownership. In the best scenarios, those craft breweries continue to make their beer their way with the bonus of added distribution. Yet, more often than not, deals like these fundamentally alter the products themselves and lose the small, careful aspects that made those brands successful in the first place.
When looking around the grocery store, we’re confronted by a similar issue. Many smaller brands in the Organic or “non-antibiotic” section of the meat aisle are ultimately owned by Perdue, Tyson, or other kingpins of the very practices that these small brands tried to fight.
As the beer industry comes up with new seals and certifications, they seem to be following in the footsteps of the meat world. From the “independent craft brewer” seal to memberships to state-by-state brewers’ guilds, there are echoes of the Organic, welfare, and locally based stamps popping up on meat labels around the country.
As with farming, we prefer visiting and exploring the source of what we’re getting. Fortunately for breweries, they are a bit easier to find and take a bit less space than a full-scale farm and pasture. We’re proud to be your independent source, and we encourage you to visit some of the many independent breweries around this area—we certainly have!