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Craft Brew Founder Widmer Savors Results

There are craft beer organizations that, because of Widmer's alignment with A-B, won't consider it craft. Since then, there have been disagreements about what size a brewery needs to be and what its output must be to be considered craft. Does this ever kind of gnaw at you?

Widmer: Not really. We don't focus on it that much.

Actually, it's interesting to me because we pay attention to it, obviously, and the definition of craft can be confusing. Now there's a really interesting discussion that I've become aware of that says the word "craft" is kind of a historic term and because the evolution of small breweries has created so many beer styles and business models, "craft" was a word that meant something and now doesn't.

If you tell consumers that Kurt and Rob were pioneers of the business and have been involved with brewing for almost 30 years and built our breweries brick by brick but aren't craft brewers, I think a lot of people would be confused by that. There really needs to be another word, or maybe it's just gotten to the point where there's no easy definition of what it is that we do.

After Pete Slosberg sold Pete's Brewing in the late 1990s and Fritz Maytag sold Anchor Brewing last year, the number of brewers that started at the same time as you and Kurt is dwindling. Does the experimentation make it easier to stay?

Widmer: Absolutely.

Kurt and I share a very small office, and our desks are head to head and, not too long ago, I could see him puzzling over something and he looked up and said "I think I'm the oldest guy in the craft beer biz." We kind of ran through the list and he's older than Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada , and Fritz had retired, but I guess you could say we're some of the elders -- which is hard to say, but something we're proud of.

We still enjoy it and I think as long as it's fun -- and I can't imagine brewing beer, drinking beer and the beer biz not being fun -- then we feel kind of privileged to be in the business.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.



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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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