In the beginning, (1974) there was a “micro-brewery” in California. In a few (three) years there was half a dozen or more. They were easy to determine who they were and what they did. They brewed beer in small-batch equipment and struggled to meet all the licensing and taxation laws of state and federal authorities. It was basic, and a simple deduction to make when observed with the untrained eye… The “craft” used in that context was a clear as a glass of lager.
Today, (2013) thirty nine years later I offer the following for your consideration. It is the (*) nota bene attached to the latest listing of the top fifty breweries in the United States as determined by the Brewers association.
*Top 50 U.S. Overall Brewing Companies notes: (a) includes Bass, Beck's, Bud Light, Budweiser, Busch, Goose Island, Landshark, Michelob, Rolling Rock, Shock Top and Wild Blue brands. Does not include partially owned Coastal, Craft Brew Alliance, Fordham, Kona, Old Dominion, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer brands; (b) includes A.C. Golden, Batch 19, Blue Moon, Colorado Native, Coors Keystone, Killian's, Leinenkugel's, Miller and Tenth & Blake brands; (c) includes Pabst, Schlitz and 28 other brand families; (d) includes Alchemy & Science and Sam Adams brands; (e) includes Dundee, Genesee, Labatt Lime, Magic Hat and Pyramid brands; (f) includes Kona, Omission, Red Hook and Widmer Brothers brands; (g) includes BridgePort, Shiner and Trumer brands; (h) includes Mountain Crest and 10 other brand families; (i) includes Flying Bison, Saranac and Utica Club brands; (j) private label brands, primarily for grocery store chains; (k) includes Casco Bay, Sea Dog and Shipyard brands; (l) includes Grain Belt and Schell's brands; (m) includes Long Trail, Otter Creek, The Shed and Wolaver’s brands; (n) includes Iron City and 17 other brand families; (o) includes Butte Creek, Kingfisher, Mendocino and Olde Saratoga brands; (p) includes Cold Spring and John Henry brands; (q) includes A1A, Big River, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants, Ragtime and Seven Bridges brewpubs; (r) includes James Page, Point and Whole Hog brands.
This is perhaps the most convoluted “except for” listing since the late 1970’s when the music industry had a proliferation of “Small Labels” hidden under the wings of Sony and the other major player.
If it takes a (*) like the above to list the exceptions and additions and subsidiarity products of just fifty breweries I would like to suggest the list is the equivalent of bovine fecal material.
Shakespeare tells us... and I paraphrase...
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Craft Brewer.
What's a Craft Brew? It is not big, nor small,
Nor owned by others, nor a “dba”, nor any other part
Belonging to the industry.
O, be some other name!