Greetings, beer geeks! The last few weeks has been interesting for us. As of January 1, we made a decision to stop carrying Narragansett, MacTarnahan.s, Pyramid, Butte Creek, Magic Hat, and Mendocino because they no longer fit the Brewers Association.s definition of a craft brewer (small, independent, traditional). And it caused quite the ruckus . particularly about Narragansett, because the specific reason they don.t meet the BA.s definition of traditional is due to their use of adjuncts. Ugh, adjuncts. This has proved to be quite the sticky subject.
Here.s how the BA defines what it means to be .traditional.:
.A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor..
While we chose to honor the BA.s definition by dropping these beers, something just didn.t feel right. We think the wording of this particular portion of the definition isn.t entirely objective. The phrase .use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor,. can very easily be interpreted in a way that seems like they.re trying to assume intention. Who can ultimately be the judge of how a brewer intends to use an adjunct like rice or corn, especially if they want to experiment with lighter flavored or lighter bodied brews?
We.ve been talking about this exact issue non-stop for the last few weeks: with one another, our customers, our friends, our roommates . anyone willing to have a conversation about it. And then we decided to reach out to Mark Hellendrung, the president of Narragansett, because we had questions . what better way to talk it out than with the man in charge?
And what we.ve concluded is this: the Brewers Association, we think, should adapt a more modern and inclusive revision to the .traditional. definition. Because you know what? Corn and rice aren.t necessarily cheaper than (unmalted) barley. And who.s to say that a small, independent brewer who wants to make a specific type of lager shouldn.t able to do just that (especially if those who drink it are then choosing not to drink a Budweiser). Should Narragansett (or Yuengling, for that matter) be excluded as a craft brewer because of that? We don.t think so.
So we.ve decided to bring .Gansett back. And we.ve written an open letter to the Brewers Association asking them to tweak this definition. It.s been tweaked before, just about a year ago in fact, and we don.t see why it shouldn.t continue to be adjusted to reflect the best possible definition what a craft brewer is or should be.
As always, share your thoughts with us. Lets keep this conversation going!