Ya' know what no one ever mentions? No one ever mentions that Infiniti is owned by Nissan.
They've been sold in the US since 1989, and in those 25 years I don’t ever once remember seeing a commercial or an advertisement explaining the connection. Basically, the cars in Infiniti's line up are Nissans with some lipstick and a little blush.
Then take Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Homespun, right? They started in a garage in Burlington Vermont, They’ve named an ice cream after Jerry Garcia and Phish. They're socially and environmentally conscience. They’re also owned by a multi-national corporation who also makes soap.
People don’t seem to mind that kind of stuff. Selling toys made of toxic plastic, or supporting apartheid is one thing, but who's going to turn down Chubby Hubby? The craft beer world, that's who.
Here a case in point.The Detmer Group, a California mid-market consumer investment bank and corporate development advisor, has recently put together a handy-dandy report, explaining that craft beer needs protecting from “pseudos”. Pseudos being those beer brand like Blue Moon, which are made by macro-breweries and packaged like craft beers—or even worse those dastardly breweries like Red Hook, Pyramid, and Goose Island, who have *gasp* partnered with big breweries. The report, with its graphs and charts, explains that the "royal we” can’t tell the difference between the true originals and the impostors—noting that what “craft is to consumers” is often not what craft thinks of itself.
The pseudos are gaining too. According to the report breweries like Kona, Magic Hat and Leinenkugels all which were once “craft", but have since gone to the supposed dark side, hold 19% of today’s craft market and could potentially reach 33%, if given the opportunity. But, the report has fairly clear suggestions as to how best to deal the pseudo issue and “authentically” position craft.
Except, there's a bit of a snag.
Nowhere in the report does it mention why people buy Blue Moon or Pyramid beers. The report makes the assumption that those beers succeed on the marketing tactic of the bait and switch alone, not that people actually like Kona’s or Shock Top—regardless of their authenticity. Basically, the report assumes people are buying a beer like Widmer Hefeweizen, simply because they think it’s from a craft brewery, not because they like it. That’s seems like a pretty big assumption—and quite omission.
Aside from the marketing aspect, I do have to ask: How is Coors owning Blue Moon any different than the officially-recognized-craft-brewery Boston Beer Company owning partial interest in Alchemy & Science—which makes the Just Beer Project beers? Both the pot and the kettle are black, right? Doesn’t that make "big craft” just as much a threat to craft as AB Inbev or Coors?
I’ve got to say. I think this authenticity slant is marketing bullshit. Bullshit that beer insiders and marketers are feeding to breweries. Long story short, maybe small beer needs to focus a little less on labels like “authenticity” and more on making the beer people like to drink.