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TheStreet Open House

10 Craft Beers That Aren't

1. Magic Hat Brewing
Why it's not craft: "Imported adjunct beer sales exceed domestic production"

Much as we explained earlier, Magic Hat isn't craft in the Brewers Association's eyes because it sold out to the man.

Even that probably wouldn't have been such a big deal if it hadn't come from such inherently crafty beginnings. Magic Hat is brewed in Burlington, Vt. Its beers have individually designed labels and names such as Circus Boy, Vinyl, Hex and Blind Faith. It has its own music festival in Vermont. Its No. 9 apricot ale was many a college student's gateway away from 16 packs of swill into better brew.

That began to change when it bought up Pyramid in 2008, but really took at turn in 2010 when North American Breweries staked its claim. Its lineup became more standardized, favorites such as its Jinx Scotch ale and Humble Patience Irish red faded away and even fairly open-minded craft beer lovers noticed a distinct turn for the bland.

While other craft beers have seen sales soar in the past five years, Magic Hat and Pyramid combined to sell 336,000 barrels in 2011. That's up from 332,000 a year before but is equal to the 336,000 it sold in 2008. By comparison, Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., is just behind Magic Hat and Pyramid with 223,000 barrels sold in 2011, but increased sales from 182,000 in 2008.

Since Magic Hat's been guzzled by an international conglomerate, it's uncertain what the future will hold for the brand and its craft beer faithful that have been following it since 1994. What is certain, however, is that Magic Hat's predicament is exactly the type of thing that leads to craft/non-craft declarations such as the one the Brewers Association just made.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.



>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

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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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