June 11, 2013
Craft beer definition discussed
Marketing beer by style and craft beer seal of approval labels were among options discussed at an informal forum of beer
industry players in Auckland last night.
Called by Moa Brewing Company founder Josh Scott, the forum had the objective of defining craft beer.
Scott says consumers are being misled by dominant brewing companies such as Lion, DB and Independent Liquor who produce
beer they call craft but which isn’t in his eyes.
“When I started up there was passion and integrity whereas now with the big boys it’s just about crunching numbers and
mass production. There used to be a genuine story behind the brewer and the process and that’s what people think craft
beer is I think. Not big breweries inventing stories to try and fool consumers about what they are,” Scott says.
More than 20 people attended the forum including brewers Yeastie Boys, 8 Wired, Tuatara, Stoke and Middlemiss brewing as
well as representatives from the Society for Beer Advocates and the Brewer’s Association.
None of the larger breweries accepted the invitation to attend the forum.
The group could not agree on what defined a ‘craft’ beer but there was universal agreement that consumers deserve more
education about the processes around how different craft beers are made.
Brewer Ben Middlemiss said craft brewing had much to do with the size of a brewing operation. The bigger they were the
less likely they would be producing craft beer he said.
“A craft brewer pours himself into the project heart and soul and cares about the product all the way to the consumer’s
glass and you definitely don’t get that with the big boys out there. They’re a beer factory. They don’t brew, they push
buttons,” he says.
Marketing beers to consumers by style, rather than brand, and creating a craft beer seal of approval label for beer that
meets a certain standard were among two options discussed.
Jenny Cameron, a representative of the Brewer’s Association of New Zealand and Australia, an organisation funded by
Lion, DB and several larger Australian breweries, said beer could learn from the wine industry and sell to consumers by
category rather than brand.
She disagreed larger breweries could not make quality craft beer.
Andrew Larsen of central Auckland brew bar Brothers Brewery, which hosted the forum, suggested a craft beer organisation
could be formed where membership was restricted to only those that met certain brewing criteria.
“What those criteria are though is the question but it’s one worth asking,” he says.
Moa’s Josh Scott supported the idea and said it was the kind of thinking that brewers needed if they wanted consumers to
properly appreciate the beer industry.
“Bigger breweries have the marketing budgets to just create what they say are craft brands overnight. The rest of us
work our arses off for years building ours. They’re not there to grow the category; they’re there to take the market
share craft brewers have created,” he says.
Scott said there were between 70 to 100 ‘craft’ brewers in New Zealand.
Statistics NZ figures reveal beer sales have dropped from 181 litres per adult in the early ‘70s to 79 litres per year
in 2012 putting us in 20th place on the global rankings. The Czech Republic comes in at number one with 122.8L per year.
About Moa Beer
Moa Beer is brewed with fresh locally produced hops and without adjuncts such as rice, sugar or corn. It’s made the way
beer used to be made, before everyone started making it differently. Fastidiously handcrafted in the traditional method
and rounded off through the use of winemaking techniques, including barrel ageing and bottle fermentation and
conditioning (like they do with Champagne). Moa comes in 10 varieties: The Estate range: Moa Methode, Moa Blanc, Moa
Noir, Moa Pale Ale; the Reserve range: Moa Imperial Stout, Moa St Josephs, Moa Blanc Evolution, Moa Five Hop and Moa
Breakfast; and Moa Original. Moa comes in a variety of different sizes: from 330ml, through 375ml and 750ml, up to 1.5L
magnums, 3L jeroboams and new 2L growlers.