Friday, October 11, 2013

Epcot Food & Wine - Craft Beers: Craft or Crafty?

I really don't want to be the critic, and I'm excited about craft beers at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  Of course Disney is big business, and it seems being big business is required to participate in their events... at least partially.  I guess it can be understood.  Lot of people, lots of dollars, lots of marketing opportunity.

Of the Craft Beers listed, the following fall into the definition of Craft Beer, as defined by the Brewers Association as "small, independent and traditional."  The list below is marked as either CRAFT or NOT CRAFT, based on the list of Craft Breweries in 2012 (see also the PDF link from the BA story).  But all these should be Craft Beer, right?

At Hops and Barley:
  • Samuel Adams, Boston Lager - CRAFT
  • Samuel Adams, Octoberfest - CRAFT
  • Samuel Adams, Cherry Wheat - CRAFT
  • Rogue, Chocolate Stout - CRAFT

Terra: 
  • Napa Smith Organic IPA - CRAFT

Florida Local:
  • Cigar City Brewing, Florida Cracker - CRAFT
  • Orlando Brewing, Sun  Shade Organic Pale Ale - CRAFT

Hawaii:  
  • Kona Brewing, Pipeline Porter - NOT CRAFT
  • Kona Brewing, Big Wave Golden Ale - NOT CRAFT
Craft Beers:
  • Dogfish Head Brewery, Namaste - CRAFT
  • Abita Brewing Company, Fall Fest - CRAFT
  • Leinenkugels Seasonal Shandy, Summer Shandy and Orange Shandy (maybe a transition somewhere along the way) - NOT CRAFT
  • Florida Beer Company, Devil's Triangle - CRAFT
  • New Belgium Brewing Company, Fat Tire - CRAFT
  • Widmer Brothers Brewing, Alchemy Ale - NOT CRAFT
  • Red Hook, Audible Ale - NOT CRAFT
  • Sierra Nevada, Torpedo Extra IPA - CRAFT
Like a wolf in sheep's clothing, the Not Craft beers have been labelled as "crafty" by the Brewers Association.  Big Beer business trying to get in the craft market by looking like Craft beers.  Some craft breweries have been bought by Big Beer and others are blatantly covering up the fact they are owned by big beer.  It's the best of the worst and the worst of the worst.  But what do we have here?

Let's start with Leinenkugel..  It is owned by SABMiller.  Check out the list of SABMiller brands here..  It is neither independent nor small.  Traditional...perhaps.

Kona Brewing is part of the Craft Brewers Alliance (CBA).  Also part of the CBA is Widmer Brothers, and Red Hook.  That is three more of the NOT CRAFT (or Crafty) list above.

We haven't talked about the Belgian beers here.  The Belgian beers are seen as craft because of the intense flavors, high alcohol percentages and simply not being lite lagers.  There are many wonderful Belgian beers to select.  Of the ones at this festival, every single last one of them is owned by ABInBev.  Big Beer.  Not Craft.  Check out their full portfolio here.  Impressive...but not craft.

My count give us 11 Craft Beers and 5 Not Craft Beers.  Of the Craft Beers Destination we have 5 Craft and 3 Not Craft.  63% Craft Beer at the Craft Beers Destination...not too bad.

And this may be yet another topic, but the world of Craft Beer is so much broader than the sampling available here.  Where are the Double IPAs, or the Imperial Stouts.  The many nuances to be found in the experimental nature of Craft Beer is simply missing from this list.  But it is meant for the masses.