I have to give credit for this to Randy Bishop of idDream, who posted it on his blog as an update to a piece he wrote regarding Anheuser-Busch’s foray into the organic beer market with Wild Hop Lager and Stone Mill Pale Ale. He uncovered a letter I’d read before but had forgotten about regarding an article written by Fred Eckhardt for the March 1997 issue of All About Beer magazine. The article concerned the long-standing feud between Anheuser-Busch and Boston Beer Co. Fred wrote about the contradictions A-B argued about with regard to contract brewing. A-B responded to Fred’s article with a lengthy response of their own. In that response, A-B said the following:
We don’t take issue with contract brewing — we just think beer drinkers have the right to know who really brews their beer. We, along with many other traditional brewers and beer enthusiasts, object to those who mislead consumers by marketing their beers as “craft brewed,” when in fact their beers are made in large breweries.
Fast forward nine years to the release of Wild Hop Lager, which revealed its origin only to the beer cogniscenti who when they read “Fairfield, CA” on a beer label knew something most people wouldn’t realize. Ironically, the argument expressed in their letter to Fred is the same one I made in my original post about this back in March, Wild Hop Lager: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing. Several months after its initial release the website now acknowledges that it’s a A-B product but the packaging in the stores still does not. Perhaps when they move through the existing packaging the new labels and carriers will reveal its true ownership Until then, I think they’ll be doing exactly what they accused Samuel Adams of in 1997: misleading consumers.