While some classify craft beer as how a brew is crafted, or closely associated with a lifestyle they have chosen, the simple truth is, craft beer is an industry, with specific legal definitions, all in place for craft protection.
So because the Brewer’s Association defines American craft beer as an industry, it must fit into finite definitions that allow brewers and micro-brewers certain rights, benchmarks, and associated statistics broken into an applicable three categories:
1. Small: Yearly production of 6 million barrels of beer or less, with production attributed to the rules of alternatingproprietorships.
2. Independent: “Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.”
3. Traditional: Total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor is derived from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients as well as their fermentation.
What isn’t craft beer?
By definition, global beer conglomerate MillerCoors. More specifically, Blue Moon, their “craft style” beer. However, Blue Moon can not be a “craft beer” per the definition above, even though it is sometimes marketed as such.
For this reason, a man in California is taking a stand against MillerCoors.
On April 24, 2015, San Diego home brewer Evan Parent filed a class action lawsuit against MillerCoors (check out here), stating that they have been pulling the proverbial wool over the eyes of consumers who seek craft beer by overtly lying about what’s in the bottle and who makes it.
Mr. Parent is seeking an unspecified amount for damages for “misleading advertising and unfair competition.”
“What this case is really about,” he told his local news in this Huffington Post article, “is people think they’re buying craft beer and they’re actually buying crafty marketing.”
And that’s not all…
According to the lawsuit, Evan Parent claims that MillerCoors actively disassociates itself from Blue Moon in an attempt to mask their association. A scheme used as subterfuge, he implies, so those looking for craft beer at the grocery store won’t see through their elaborate ruse, and will buy Blue Moon instead of an actual craft beer.
Here is MillerCoors‘ response:
MillerCoors is tremendously proud of Blue Moon and has always embraced our ownership and support of this wonderful brand. The class action filed against MillerCoors in California is without merit and contradicted by Blue Moon Brewing Company’s 20-year history of brewing creative beers of the highest quality.
Unfortunately, “artfully crafted” isn’t part of the definition of craft beer… no matter how you spin it.
Then, of course, there is MillerCoors‘ production values: at 76 million barrels of beer produced annually, it’s difficult to consider Blue Moon, via MillerCoors, a “craft beer,” even if they designed it as such.
As for marketing, MillerCoors stands by the fact that they never actually said that Blue Moon was a craft beer, nor actively try to dictate otherwise.
It’s uncertain yet if a judge will throw this case out. Pending litigation hasn’t picked up speed, but the entire thing is very interesting.
What do you think about this case? Chime in below!
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