Blog: Reaction To “The High End” Response to ‘independent craft’ seal

Reaction To “The High End” Response to ‘independent craft’ seal

If you haven’t heard yet, this week the Brewers Association has created an “independent craft brewer” seal that independent craft breweries can choose to add to their packaging to show the end consumer that they are truly and independent craft brewery. The seal is meant to help consumers figure out which beers are created by truly independent craft breweries and not by “big beer”.

If you haven’t, now you have (or you’ve had the opportunity to check it out).  Since this came out AB-InBev’s “The High End” has come out with a response/defense to this new seal.

First off, I just want to talk about the name “The High End”  – there is something about that name that just rubs me the wrong way.  It just feels like someone somewhere is trying too hard. It feels like an executive at AB-InBev said: “what’s the most annoying name you can think of to name our brand?” And someone replied “The High End” and they went with it.

But, putting that aside.  I watched the video.  Well, let me rephrase, I tried to watch the video.  After it became obvious that these former independent brewers were shocked that people don’t like them or their beer because it’s now associated with one of the “enemies”.  It was also glaringly obvious that these people were given a script or at least talking points.  Sure, they were allowed to talk about it in any way that they want, but if you noticed — most of them talked about the “biggest threat to beer” being the Wine and Spirits market.  This sounds like a company whose biggest threat is craft beer trying to guilt beer drinkers into feeling bad for not drinking their mass-produced beer.

Another talking point they were given was “talk about how the quality of the beer hasn’t changed” because more than a few of them made that claim.  And one of them even went as far as saying that the Brewers Association said “drink anything as long as it’s independently owned” adding in “even if it’s crap”.  The benefit of this statement is that I get to bring up one of my favorite parts about independently owned craft beer. If there is something wrong with my beer, or I’m not a huge fan of it, I can have a genuine conversation with someone who is directly impacted by making or selling the beer.  I can go into a local brewery and talk to the owner or the head brewer and have real conversations about their beer, marketing, and anything else that I’d like.  Every brewery I’ve walked into felt like a piece of someone’s heart — and it was.  These people put their heart and soul into their breweries and drinking their beers help real people who live in real communities with real ties to other people and places around them.  Not some foreign entity that’s looking to squeeze the last buck out of the latest dying trend.

I tried to watch the video and write this from a point of view that wasn’t incredibly mad or angry, but it was harder than I thought.  It makes me wonder how much putting that out had to suck for them.   I feel like at least one of them has to feel like they made a deal with the devil… but the devil pays their bills still.

Anyway, sorry for my rant. I just feel like a marketing intern who has never drunk craft beer decided “oh crap, we’ve got to respond to this stupid sticker, called all of the former owners of these formerly independent craft breweries to put out this video. Honestly, the best thing that AB-InBev could have done was to not do anything.  But, they’re threatened by the little guys when they all gang up on them!

If you don’t want to watch the video (I wouldn’t it just annoyed me) our friends over at Beer Street Journal wrote out what each person said in the video.  Check it out here.