Know what you’re drinking: When is a craft beer not the genuine article?

In the first of a new series from SIBA, chief executive Mike Benner discusses how to spot the phonies from the real deal.

There has been a huge growth in the popularity of craft beer over the last decade, with more people than ever discovering the huge range of breweries across the globe making exciting styles and interesting tasting beers.

In fact, the beer landscape in the UK right now has never been better: there’s more choice, better quality, greater availability, and most importantly excitement and enthusiasm, with innovative, forward-thinking, independent breweries taking on the mass-produced lager giants that have dominated the beer market for years.

This seismic shift in the beer market has led to many craft brewers showing rapid growth, while at the same time the sales of mass-produced beers by the global beer companies have seen an overall decline.


But the global beer giants haven’t simply rolled over and admitted defeat, they’ve set their sights on the segment of the market that is growing, and are now seeking to grab their own slice of

the craft beer cake. They’re doing this in two ways; firstly, buying out previously independent craft breweries such as Camden, Meantime and Sharp’s, or secondly launching their own products marketed as craft beer.

It’s a similar story across the pond, with Goose Island and Lagunitas (among others) now owned by the companies who make Budweiser and Heineken respectively, as well as a number of beers launched to look like craft – such as Blue Moon, Shocktop and Trouble Brewing.

In order to combat this, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) launched the Assured Independent British Craft Brewer campaign, which seeks to highlight breweries that are fully independent, relatively small and brewing quality beer. The logo can only be used by truly independent craft brewers, so beer drinkers can be sure that wherever they see the logo – be it on a pumpclip, bottle or can label – the craft beer they are drinking is the real thing.


We launched the campaign in August 2016 and were delighted to see in 2017 the Brewers Association in America, a similar trade association to SIBA representing independent craft brewers in the US, followed suit and introduced their own independent craft brewers seal.

The issue here isn’t just about how the beer tastes, it’s about giving you the right as a beer drinker to choose whether to buy beer from a genuine independent craft brewer or from a global beer giant.It should be clear who is making your beer and, with the introduction of SIBA’s ‘Assured Independent British Craft Brewer’ seal in the UK and the Brewers Association’s ‘Independent Craft Brewer’ seal in the US, we hope to highlight when a craft beer really is the genuine article.

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