For many years, craft beer producers have been trying to get a piece of what I like to refer to as the "Yellow Beer" (i.e. Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, etc.) market and rightfully so. For far too long, Americans were forced to get their veritable buzz on via watered-down, tasteless, "beer". My grandfather referred to it as "canoe beer" ... pretty close to water.
But, beer drinkers need not guzzle this glorified water any longer. The United States' craft beer industry has been growing steadily. It now occupies 6.5% of beer sales and is projected to grow from a $12 billion industry in 2012 to $18 billion in 2017, and you're likely to find at least one local and/or craft beer at your favorite watering hole these days. Not too shabby, eh? Well, hold on there, mister. Yellow Beer, obviously, is not a fan of this development, so they've resorted to some tomfoolery.
Yellow Beer released a number of trojan horse beers, so to speak, to fool John Q. Beerdrinker into thinking he's lobbing down a craft beer, when, in fact, he's still lining Yellow Beer's pockets. Brands of this sort include Blue Moon and the recently-released Third Shift, which are made by SABMiller. Anheuser-Busch InBev hopped into the game with Shock Top, Landshark, and Goose Island, which, sadly, fell into Yellow Beer's clutches in 2011.
There's reason to be optimistic. Market research has shown that half of beer drinkers over 25 choose craft beer over its yellow counterpart. But, Yellow Beer is sure to keep rolling out these types of brands, so we must do a little homework to determine that what we're drinking is actually a craft beer and not a re-packaged Michelob.
Legit craft beer folks are hoping to make the process easier for us by calling for more transparency from Yellow Beer when they roll out these products. The Brewers Association, a trade group comprised of about 1,500 craft brewers is asking Yellow Beer to put its name on packaging and promotions for their "craft" brands, primarily Shock Top and Blue Moon, which they currently aren't doing to further the ruse. The campaign, which began last December, has received quite a bit of attention and has its own sweet hashtag: #craftvscrafty.
So, the bottom line is don't fall for Yellow Beer's shenanigans. I'm not buying it ... neither should you!