Earlier today news hit the internet that Mahou San Miguel, Spain’s biggest brewery, bought a 30% stake in Founder’s Brewing Company. You can read the full press release at All About Beer. This investment will help Founders grow across America and into emerging international markets around the world. Obviously a great move for Founders. Hopefully, this also means an easier time getting KBS next April.
Here’s where things get fun
Well fun to me since I like to ponder difficult beer industry questions. Does this investment means that Founders is no longer a “craft brewer.”
Per a Brewer’s Association presentation at the 2010 Craft Brewers Conference Mahou San Miguel brewed over 10 million barrels of beer.
Therefore based on the Brewer’s Association definition of what is a “craft brewer” Mahou San Miguel is not a craft brewer because they’re not “small”.
Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales).
Now that Founders is 30% owned by a non-craft brewer, again per the Brewer’s Association definition, it too is not a craft brewer. Founders still makes less than 6 million barrels a year but it breaks the “independent” rule.
Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
Does It Really Matter?
I’m not going to expound too much here since I’ve already covered this before. But does it really matter if Founders is a “craft brewer” or not? In my opinion the most important thing is a damn good beer. I don’t care if Mahou San Miguel, MillerCoors, or anyone else buys a 100% stake in Founders. If All Day, Breakfast Stout, Backwoods Bastard, and KBS are still delicious beers to look forward to every year and the Backstage Series is still pumping out interesting bombers I’ll still buy Founders beer.
Lastly, I fully expect the Brewer’s Association to adjust their rules. They’ve already done this twice by upping the barrels per year number so the Boston Beer Company remains within the definition. They usually announce any changes in early spring so I fully expect the Independent section to bounce up to 33% or there abouts.
Regardless of if they change the rules it still doesn’t matter to me if Founders is a “craft brewer” or not, does it matter to you? Sound off in the comments.