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Consumers deserve to know who is behind their craft beer, say independent brewers

By Rachel Arthur+

11-Jul-2017
Last updated on 11-Jul-2017 at 10:38 GMT2017-07-11T10:38:12Z

Pic: iStock/Maksymowicz
Pic: iStock/Maksymowicz

The UK’s Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) is calling for greater clarity for consumers on who is behind craft beer brands, as global beer companies continue to buy small, previously independent breweries. 

It comes as the US Brewers Association last week also highlighted a need for more information for consumers, with the launch of a new seal (depicting an upside down bottle and the words ‘independent craft’), noting that drinkers are often confused about what is available in the market place and want transparency on brewery ownership.

SIBA launched its own ‘Assured Independent British Craft Brewer’ seal in August last year, with the aim of making it easier for consumers to differentiate independent craft beer from that owned by global brewers.

But this week it is highlighting the continued need for clarity in the market place, and has pledged to make its Assured Independent British Craft Brewer campaign a major feature of the Great British Beer Festival in London this summer (August 8-12). The festival, which attracts over 50,000 visitors across the four day event, is run by not-for-profit consumer organization the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

In the UK, a number of previously independent craft breweries have been bought by global brewers, such as Camden Town (acquired by AB InBev in 2015), Meantime (acquired by the former SABMiller in 2015 and now owned by Asahi), and most recently London Fields brewery, which was purchased by Carlsberg last week.

Mike Benner, chief executive, SIBA, said: “Buyouts are made in the hope of capturing the original customers and target market of an established, previously independent craft beer brewery - customer bases which were built on the back of the brewery being relatively small, independent and brewing quality, flavoursome beer.

“Consumers deserve to know that what they are buying is a genuine craft-brewed beer as research clearly shows that most beer drinkers believe craft beer to be produced by relatively small, independent brewers.

“SIBA wants to see far greater clarity in the market place and as such launched the Assured Independent British Craft Brewer campaign, whereby truly independent craft breweries and the beers they brew, can carry a seal highlighting them as such. It’s a simple accreditation which can be instantly recognised by beer drinkers on bottles or cans on supermarket shelves or on pump clips at the bar.”

'Craft'

In the US, a craft brewer is defined by the Brewers Association as one that has an annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less, with less than 25% of the brewery owned or controlled by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.  

However, in many other countries, there is no set definition of a craft brewer or craft beer.

In order to use SIBA’s Assured Independent British Craft Brewer logo in the UK, the beer must be brewed by a British brewer who abides by the SIBA Manual of Good Brewing Practice; is truly independent of any larger controlling brewing interest; and brews less than 200,000hl annually. 

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