Are big brewers trying to push out microbrewers? That would seem to be the case with the latest move by The Beer Institute, the group which represents the big breweries. The institute wants its members, such as Anheuser-Busch, Miller-Coors and others to offer more detailed labeling of the ingredients that go into making beer. It is also pushing the Food and Drug Administration to insist on more minutiae be included on labels.
At first sip, this might seem like a noble idea, but the reality is, more needless regulation would put a strain on the small craft brewers, many of which already present important information on their labels. However, to insist on more label detail could be costly to the craft operations, already straining under thin profit margins. Because the small brewers make numerous styles of seasonal beers, they would be forced to constantly print different labels, a costly venture.
There is no secret the big brewers are doing everything in their power to quash the small craft brewing industry, which is an important part of the American economy. The fact the big boys sell more than 80 percent of the beer in the U.S.A. is not enough. The big breweries – whose parent-ownership is based in Europe – are already marketing their own craft-style beer in an effort to take over that remaining 20 percent. Insisting on more detailed labeling would be another motive to can the small market beers.
As a fan of micro-brewed beer made locally, I am quite happy with the labeling. Many labels are innovative in design. I don’t need to know every last ingredient in the beer. The labels are transparent enough. In fact, that seems to be the sentiment of The Brewers Association, a group representing microbreweries.
Here is hoping common sense prevails and the small breweries win out. The world is big enough for both entities to exist. Now please pour me another beer.