I have every sympathy for the Boston Beer Company and their Sam Adams brands if for no other reason that they keep coming up with brews that surprise me unexpectedly with their quality and value. That being said, it is getting silly out there with the efforts being made to continue their right to be called a "small" brewer or a "craft" brewer even as they get bigger and more industrial from a technical point of view. Take, for example, what was reported last week in The New York Times:
Mr. Koch said Sam Adams would remain a craft beer regardless of whether the Boston Beer Company hung on to its official craft brewer status. Quite simply, he said, a craft beer is one recognized for flavor versus thirst-quenching qualities. “A craft beer you would not drink,” he said, “after you just mowed the lawn on a hot day.”
Excuse me? That's a tad pompous, isn't it? I would be guessing (as I haven't exactly kept notes) but would be confident in saying that over 50% of my lawn mowing experiences since 2006 have been followed by a craft beer and that well over 80% of the beer Koch's company makes would be quite welcome at the post-mow lawn chair moment. Sam Adams brews may be tasty enough but, like most craft beer, they hardly cause chores and household duties to grind to a stop whenever they are near.
It isn't about flavour, is it. There is more to it. While the real issue is the lower rate of excise tax the legislatively deemed small brewer enjoys, the Brewer's Association also has part of the problem with any change for as soon as Sam Adams stops being craft beer, the entire craft beer market in the US loses about 20% of its production. One solution seems to be making small brewers be those producing under six million barrels instead of the current two. I don't have recent stats but it appears to me that this would make all breweries "small" except for the few national macros. Isn't that just an admission of the core of meaninglessness at the heart of the use of "craft" or "small" to describe brewing in the USA today?