Vote With Your Dollar!

Photograph by kristen_a, via Flickr.
Photograph by kristen_a, via Flickr.

Most people never ask why we don.t carry beers brewed or owned by AB-InBev or MillerCoors (or Cerveceria Costa Rica, United Brewers Limited, and Crown Imports). And come to think of it, no one has ever asked us why we based a large part of our business model on a definition supplied by the Brewer.s Association. We have a hunch that some people probably just assume we don.t carry those beers because they don.t taste very good. The BA.s definition of a craft brewer gave us the means of selecting product that we could also explain to our customers. But there.s more to it than that. We have always believed in voting with your dollar.

In the recent .Craft vs. Crafty. debate that.s been making headlines for several weeks now, some legitimate beer lovers are up in arms about the fact that the Brewer.s Association is, for lack of better wording, kicking several long-established American brewers to the curb because they no longer fit the BA.s definition of what it means to be a craft brewer (small, independent, and traditional).

Why does it matter? Because many of these breweries are producing beers that are very much loved by beer drinkers, both craft and mainstream alike. Take Pyramid IPA, Magic Hat #9, or Narragansett Summer, for example, which will no longer be available at Craft Beer Cellar. And yes, we.ve enjoyed Narragansett Summer since it first hit the market . it.s a great beer, as are their other seasonal brews. Let’s just say that it’s not always an easy day at the office . livin’ the dream also requires making tough decisions.

So here.s something to noodle: All of these breweries have opted to be members of the Brewer.s Association. And if these breweries know what the BA.s definition of craft beer is, and that they.ll be called to the carpet for not meeting some or all of these criteria, then why would they bother being members in the first place? This is what really confuses us, because as far as we know, members don.t get dropped because of it, and continue to pay membership dues.

So it shouldn.t have come as a surprise, then, that we chose to follow our marching orders from the Brewer.s Association after they released their controversial statement on December 13, 2012. We have never carried some of the downright bad examples of .crafty. beers trying to be .craft,. and have a long history of being slightly annoyed by oh, say, Blue Moon Brewing Company.s attempt to convince people that it is a luscious Belgian White ale from some far off corner of Belgium. (FYI: It.s owned by MillerCoors and brewed in Golden, CO, but the location wasn.t disclosed until fairly recently; this article quotes the head of Coors stating that the brand wouldn.t include any parent identifiers on the label). Actually, here.s some serious irony for ya: in our former restaurant lives, we made a point to turn our Blue Moon drinkers onto Magic Hat.s Circus Boy Hefeweizen . a beer we believed had more flavor. Eventually, we canned Blue Moon from our draft lines. And now we.ve dropped Magic Hat from our shelves because they were bought out by Florida Ice & Farm Company, who is owned by Cerveceria Costa Rica. And are no longer craft brewers. Still confused? So are we!

We have never (ever) been negative, beastly beer snobs and think people should drink what they like without justifying why. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: What can you learn from a snob? If you want to drink Budweiser, that.s your prerogative and we aren.t going to slam you because of it. When you visit us in Belmont, and hopefully soon in Needham, what you.ll find is a team of beer geeks who want to help you find something similar. Actually, we think it.s our chance to put something in your hands that will keep you from returning to, say, a Budweiser. And we.ve seen it happen so many times. This is how we measure success!

What we want you to know (even though you.ve never asked) is that we don.t carry products from AB-InBev or Tenth and Blake Beer Company (the craft and import division of MillerCoors) because we believe in the power of voting with the dollar. We vote with the limited number of dollars we have by buying more beer, which puts our money back into the industry. If folks choose to buy Goose Island, Red Hook, or Leinenkugel, they are giving support and approval to these companies by giving money back to them, which ultimately makes things more difficult for craft brewers. And interestingly enough, we continue to see people who we know to love and support craft beer supporting big breweries in this way. Whether it.s a Twitter friend drinking a Coors Light at a football game or a craft-fanatical regular who slides in a few Shock Top bottles when returning empty bottles (FYI: We don.t take empty bottles of products we don.t or wouldn.t sell). Ultimately, the topic is both interesting and confusing, but we just want to be clear that at Craft Beer Cellar, we vote craft!

We realize that we have yet to tackle another important facet of this debate: adjuncts! But we.ll tackle that one next, beer geeks, so stay tuned.

What do you think? We.ve had a pretty interesting and lengthy discussion about this on our Facebook page, but would love to see your thoughts below in the comments, too.

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