When the Brewers Association redefined “craft beer” a few years ago, it was viewed with controversy and downright scorn by more than a few people. It’s certainly understandable that the BA needs to define what it means to be a craft brewer, because after all that’s their charter. They’re a trade organization for the craft brew industry. They have to be able to define what it means to be a member and to determine who can and cannot be a member. The new definition took a long time to be agreed upon, and even today not everyone does, even within the organization among its members. Some former members were kicked out at the stroke of a pen, so to speak, when they no longer fit the new definition. I personally have mixed feelings about how it’s currently defined and believe it needs further tweaking. But I’m not actually prepared to launch into that discussion right now. Someone else has, however.
Danner Kline is one of the founders of Free the Hops, the grassroots organization that successfully got the Alabama state legislature to raise the maximum a.b.v. allowed from 6% to 13.9% and continues to work toward bringing “the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama.” Kline has his own take on the craft beer definition, What Is Craft Beer?, that appeared in the Birmingham Weekly last Thursday. It’s worth a read, and it’s worth thinking about and discussing, as it will have to change again, especially if the effort right now to change the numbers for breweries in the Unites States Congress is successful.