All of us leverage new media to share our passion for beer. Many of us review brews, cover events, interview owners and brewers, visit/chronicle breweries and beer destinations and more. As #BBC17 approaches, I wonder what beer issues concern you – the beer bloggers and writers.
Truth in Advertising
On June 27th, the Brewers Association launched their new seal certifying beers from independently-owned breweries “free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers”. (Brewers Association Press Release) BBC opener Julia Herz revealed on July 19th that over 1,250 companies, representing roughly 50% of American craft beer volume, have already adopted and embraced the seal. Prior to this recent wave, numerous law suits have been filed against specific brands for misrepresentation of their size, origin and ownership.
As bloggers and writers should we address this issue as well, and if so how best to do so?
Hot on the heels of a round of brewery buyouts, RateBeer became yet another beer media company now partially-owned by a producer. While press releases and quotes state that the independent nature of the site will not change, will this continue to be the case if the ownership stake increases?
Our sites are part of beer media. Some of us are more vocal or opinionated than others, but I would like to believe we are transparent, such as disclosing when we receive promotional samples. What more can we do individually or collectively to maintain credibility amongst beer writers?
Various distributors representing “big beer” as well as craft have been found guilty of less than savory business practices. As a business professional, I fully understand the fiduciary responsibility to shareholders all businesses face. A successful company, however, should not routinely and unscrupulously put profit through disingenuous business practices ahead of corporate responsibility.
By not publicly acknowledging or addressing these issues, are we silently consenting or looking away from actual or borderline criminal activity?
Nutritional Information on Labels
Almost everyone is happy about this level of transparency. If you are consuming beer (or other alcohol products for that matter), you should have a right to know what ingredients are used as well as their nutritional information. To what extent should all brewers comply with this self-regulation proposed by The Beer Institute? For most smaller operations, testing of every seasonal or one-off or even multiple batches may be economically infeasible.
How can balance between the plight of small brewery owners while fairly promoting transparency with nutritional information, and should this be at the forefront of our concern?
There are a number of issues that reside in this area. Water usage is a particularly sensitive issue in California, though it affects all producers. I do not personally advocate “sewer beer for all”, but as writers, can we highlight breweries embracing water conservation and other sustainability efforts? How else can we better educate positive contributions in this area?
Bar and Draft Cleanliness
How many times have you seen, smelled or tasted (ugh) lack of cleanliness? If you were to walk down a major bar area or street, can you point to all the places that do not properly clean their draft lines or their glassware? Have you attempted to or successfully sent back an order? Do you vocalize to the waitstaff or to management about your experience?
Beer education programs (Cicerone, MBAA, etc.) do a great service for a great many establishments and hospitality groups…should they choose to embrace them.
Should we help out in our own way beyond our role as consumers? How can we create positive interactions that inform and educate?
I will be the first to admit that I do not consider myself a “haze bro”; I prefer to call myself an “equal opportunity taster”. Do I occasionally consume New England aka Vermont IPAs or other unfiltered styles? Yes, but never exclusively.
If you listen to various beer podcasts, you will hear this debate day in and day out about “the haze”. Hell, there was even a debate at The Firestone Walker Invitational covered by The Brewing Network. Does this debate need to continue? Where do you stand?
Many of our own brethren have fought the good fight to remove legal restrictions threatening the current craft beer renaissance. While a great many battles have been won (in Mississippi and elsewhere), there are still laws on the books hindering growth for producers, the local beer culture, tourism, and local economies. Worst still is the action of certain lobbying groups working hard to keep the status quo in some areas.
While the AHA and BA work tirelessly to support and achieve positive change, is it time once again to “raise our pints” to promote change?
These are just a few issues off the top of my head. There are probably at least a dozen more that I know our guests and speakers at #BBC17 will undoubtedly address. So what issues are most important to you? Which ones should move to the top of our agenda in the year to come? Let’s keep this conversation going.
Cheers and remember:
Life’s a tap…drink up ’til it’s dry.