American Craft Beer Week

American Craft Beer Week is once again upon us and in full swing till Sunday, 20th May.  This year is the 13th such event since the Brewers Association decided to shift the month-long American Beer Month into a compact, targeted week of events with a new name that includes the ‘craft’ designation.

With the nonstop growth in artisanal beer consumption and an increasing interest in supporting local industry ahead of the national mass industry, we can be assured that the future of the American Craft Beer Week is secure.

The focus of the American Craft Beer Week is on the small, independent brewers who are provided with the opportunity to align their activities during this week to gain maximum impact and exposure.  Breweries throw open their doors, one-off commemorative beers have been produced, beer-tasting and food-pairing events are more prevalent in local communities and there will be an extraordinary number of the now-ubiquitous Tap Takeovers.

The Brewers Association must be applauded for its success in gaining traction for its Independent Craft Brewer Seal, which has not only been extensively adopted by craft brewers across the land, but also, most importantly, is quickly establishing itself as a recognised symbol and national benchmark of a small, independent brewer.  Discerning consumers have been in desperate need of such a system for a while, since we see Big Beer homogenisation encroaching on the craft beer market each week, and drinkers have often felt unable to determine what is genuine craft and what is simply a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The Brewers Association are rightfully concerned about what they refer to as a ‘highjack of authenticity’, something small, independent and artisanal brewers from every land need to be concerned about.

It’s a message we see in other countries: an overwhelming percentage of breweries are independent (98% in the US), yet these figures do not reflect national consumption trends that favour homogeneous brands.  It’s an uphill struggle.  Events like American Craft Beer Week aim to buck the trend, and it’s a unified approach that appears to work.  Let’s hope other lands can overcome their problems to refocus on what’s important, whether it’s internal infighting within beer consumer groups, a national blind-eye turned towards overwhelming monopolies, or an acceptance of a population that is generally indifferent about what it drinks to the extent it allows authenticity to be hijacked by Big Beer industries.

A Craft Brewer Seal badge (of honour) is being offered to consumers who pledge they’ll drink only genuine craft beer during American Craft Beer Week, and the power of Social Media is being harnessed to ensure the message is loud and clear:  #seektheseal

Initiatives abound.  A notable example is the American Craft Beer Week Bingo Card, which includes such achievements as “Compliment a brewery online”, “Try a new beer style”, “Support your local brewery”, “Take a newbie to a brewery” and “Make a new beer friend.”  All wholly commendable.

I am happy make a new beer friend every day!  It’s your round!