Is Colorado the center of the "crafty" beer universe?
Colorado -- home to the Great American Beer Festival, the Brewers Association and 161 breweries -- is the center of the universe when it comes to craft beer.
But is it also the center of the "crafty" beer universe?
On Thursday, the Brewers Association, which represents small brewers nationwide, fired an oddly-timed shot over the bows of MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, blasting them for selling "crafty" beers without labeling them as their products.
"When someone is drinking a Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer, they often believe that it's from a craft brewer, since there is no clear indication that it's made by SABMiller," the Brewers Association statement read. "The same goes for Shock Top, a brand that is 100 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev."
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And both were born right here in Colorado, which could also be the home of the next big "crafty" brand, Goose Island, a formerly independent craft brewer that was purchased last year by AB, which plans to brew several of the company's products in Fort Collins.
Blue Moon was created inside Denver's Coors Field in 1995 at the Sandlot Brewery, now called Blue Moon Brewing @ the Sandlot, as Bellyslide Belgian White. At the time, there were only about 850 craft brewers in the country, as compared to 1,260 today. The seventeen-year-old brand has since gone national and has several variations.
Shock Top, which is also a Belgian White or wit, was first made at Anheuser-Busch's massive Fort Collins brewery under the name Spring Heat Spiced Wheat. This brand also has numerous variations. AB described it as the "third in a series of successful seasonal draughts, following Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale and Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale."
And now, Goose Island, which the Brewers Association no longer considers a craft brewery because of its ownership change, has filed applications with the federal government to brew at least four of its major brands in Fort Collins.
The company has indicated that it will take these brands nationwide -- probably without the AB name on the labels either.
But BA spokeswoman Julia Herz says it was in response to recent media coverage about megabreweries have been experimenting with craft beer.
"The association has never really issued a press statement like this," she says. "We do have positions...But this is a new direction on this one topic, but it is a topic that has been building internally...at the association and amongst our members. They are saying that the lines have been blurred over time and they are getting blurrier."
Read the association's full statement on the next page.