A recent debate in the craft beer community regarding the classification of independent craft breweries based on size has finally been settled. Today the Brewers Association announced that the majority of U.S. brewing companies have voted to revise the definition of a “craft brewer.” The original definition stated that a “small” independent craft brewery was anything under 2 million barrels per year. The success and growth of many craft breweries (such as New Belgium, Stone and Dogfish Head) in the past decade has forced the Brewers Association to evaluate this number and, as of December 20th 2010, the definition officially changed to 6 million barrels.
Brewers Association Announces Revised Craft Brewer Definition
Boulder, CO • January 3, 2011-The board of directors of the Brewers Association (BA), the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, has voted to change the BA’s designation of “small” in its definition of a “craft brewer.” The Association’s board of directors also has revised its bylaws to reflect the change.
In the BA’s craft brewer definition, the term “small” now refers to any independent brewery that produces up to 6 million barrels of traditional beer. The previous definition capped production at 2 million barrels. The changed definition is currently in effect and can be reviewed on the BA website, BrewersAssociation.org. The change to the bylaws went into effect December 20, 2010.
In the Brewers Association’s bylaws, two classes of membership (Professional Packaging Brewers and Associate membership) have been redefined with a qualifying barrelage of 6 million barrels versus 2 million barrels.
The association cited several reasons for the change, including the recognition that “small” is a descriptive term relative to the overall size of the industry.
“Thirty-four years have passed since the original small brewers tax differential defined small brewers as producing less than 2 million barrels,” said Nick Matt, chair of the Brewers Association board of directors and chairman and CEO of F.X. Matt Brewing Company. “A lot has changed since 1976. The largest brewer in the U.S. has grown from 45 million barrels to 300 million barrels of global beer production.”
Matt added, “The craft brewer definition and bylaws now more accurately reflect and align with our government affairs efforts.” On the legislative front in 2010, the Brewers Association supported H.R. 4278/S. 3339, which sought to update the cap on an excise tax differential for small brewers to 6 million barrels per year in production for their first 2 million barrels.
Retaining Market Share for Craft Brewers
The industry’s largest craft brewer, The Boston Beer Company, is poised to become the first craft brewer to surpass 2 million barrels of traditional beer within the next few years. Loss of The Boston Beer Company’s production in craft brewing industry statistics would inaccurately reflect on the craft brewing industry’s market share.
In addition to Boston Beer, the current growth trajectory of other sizable BA member breweries places them on a course approaching the 2 million barrel threshold in the coming years.
“With this change to the craft brewer definition and BA bylaws, statistics will continue to accurately reflect the 30-year growth of market share for craft brewed beer,” said Matt. “Brewers Association statistics on craft brewers will continue to keep pace with the growth of the industry.”
Craft brewed beer market share is now approximately five percent of the U.S. beer industry, and growing. The BA has a stated mission of helping America’s craft brewers achieve more than five percent market share by 2013.
Matt added, “Rather than removing members due to their success, the craft brewing industry should be celebrating our growth.”
About the Brewers Association
Based in Boulder, Colorado, USA, the Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade and education association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. Visit BrewersAssociation.org to learn more. The association’s activities include events and publishing: CraftBeer.com, World Beer Cup®; Great American Beer Festival®; Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America®; National Homebrewers Conference; National Homebrew Competition; SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience; American Craft Beer Week; Zymurgy magazine; The New Brewer magazine; and books on beer and brewing. The Brewers Association has an additional membership division of 22,000+ homebrewers: American Homebrewers Association.
Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com.