Back in May the Craft Beer Industry Association changed its name to the Independent Brewing Association. That was good for two reasons; firstly it got the phrase “craft beer” out of the title. I hate that phrase (yes, I use it from time to time because it’s a shorthand version of explaining the sort of beer I like, but I cringe a little bit inside every time I do).
The other good reason was because it made it very clear who they support – independent brewers. Which makes sense; they’re the ones who need to band together so that their individual small voices will be louder as a collective. I said something to that effect here.
Something else I said there was that the real test came when one of their members was no longer “independent”. Would they have the courage to kick them out?
Yes, they would, as it turns out
Their mettle was tested when Coca-Cola snapped up Feral and AB InBev picked up 4 Pines. Earlier this month, the IBA started the ball rolling on giving both of them the boot. Which was a pleasant surprise for me; if I was a gambling man I’d have bet on them somehow being allowed to stay (which neatly illustrates why I’m not a gambling man – because I’d lose my money).
While 4 Pines is goneski, there does remain some shoulder-shrugging with Feral. It seems the brewer and its new mega-giant owner figured it might still qualify for membership under the IBA rules.
Technically they’re out but the IBA is considering whether they can still wiggle in. But Brendan Varis may have already seen the writing on the wall – he’s said he’d be happy to stay but if that pissed off too many members he’d respect their wishes.
So kudos should go to the IBA for staying firm to the colours they nailed to the flagpole.