Brewers Association seeks $213bn to ‘buy’ AB InBev

The Brewers Association has launched a tongue-in-cheek crowdfunding campaign entitled ‘Take Craft Back’ as it seeks to raise US$213 billion to “buy” brewing giant AB InBev.

The American trade group, which promotes the interests of around 5,700 small and independent breweries in the US, has launched the campaign to ‘take craft back’ from big beer.

The endeavour taps into the ongoing debate surrounding what defines ‘craft’ and particularly attacks the way in which big brewers, such as AB InBev, are “permanently altering the craft landscape” and presenting “acquired brands as if they were truly, authentically independent”.

Take Craft Back, described as the “largest crowdfunding effort in history”, encourages craft beer lovers to pledge fake dollars towards the $213 billion target, the estimated total value of AB InBev.

It is supported by video content, filmed at Upslope Brewing, in which a narrator called Andy explains the difference between craft beer and those former craft breweries acquired by larger companies.

“When you think of craft beer, do you think of factories cranking out millions of barrels a year and a publicly trade company worth $213 billion dollars? No, you think of this guy, Dave.”

“You think of independent entrepreneurship, worn out cargo pants as an acceptable clothing choice, you think of breweries creating culture, putting people to work doing something for America apart from just putting the word on a can”.

“Big beer wants to rob us of the power of choice, it wants to muscle us out”.

At the time of writing a total of 1,463,890 fake dollars has been pledged by 4,614 people on the Take Craft Back website. The new media and publicity drive, according to the website, has the support of American brewers including Dogfish Head Brewery, Port City Brewing, Societe Brewing Company, Beachwood Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Roadhouse Brewing and Left Hand Brewing.

Take Craft Back also states that AB InBev buys up large volumes of certain hop varieties, making them unavailable to craft brewers, and that it “hoards media space on TV” and is “even buying and starting beer blogs to shill for AB InBev and its craft breweries”.

Despite its humorous undertones, Brewbound has reported that at least one member of the Brewers Association is unhappy with the way in which the industry body is tackling the issue.

In an email to the news site, the anonymous source called the campaign “embarrassing” and “gimmicky.”

“This sort of campaign is diluting the BA’s initiatives. Rather than spend time on marketing campaigns like this that pander to the casual small brewer, the BA should spend time on programming that actually educates the community,” the emailer concluded.

Earlier this year, it was reported that sales of US craft beer were slowing after the sector reported the loss of 1.2 million barrels to ‘big beer’ following numerous ‘big beer’ takeovers.

In addition, both the Brewers Association and UK industry bodies, such as CAMRA, have criticised big beer for “fooling consumers into thinking they’re drinking independent or craft” and creating an “illusion of choice”.

In June, the Brewers Association introduced a new seal to indicate craft beers that have been brewed by independent brewers, “free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers”.

The following month, the UK’s Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) followed suit and unveiled its own “Assured Independent British Craft Brewer” seal.

The Brewers Association is encouraging its members to promote Take Craft Back via social media, through organising themed events, and by brewing ‘Take Craft Back’ collaborative beers.

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