Beer produced in 2012: 13.2 million barrels
That number above is how much beer its member breweries produced in 2012. It would need help from just about all of them if it wants to take craft beer's message to the big game.
The Brewers Association has made its presence felt throughout the beer industry in recent years by not only coming up with a hard-and-fast definition of a craft brewer -- though it had to change that definition's production limit from 2 million to 6 million when Boston Beer grew more quickly than it anticipated -- but by lobbying Congress for a tax cut. Its Craft BREW Act would ease the burden on all breweries making 6 million barrels or less, which is basically all breweries but A-B, MillerCoors, Constellation's Modelo brands and Heineken USA, but it's going to need some support.
A competing bit of legislation has also made its way to Congress with the help of those big, left-out breweries and is recommending a sliding-scale tax cut for all U.S. breweries. Some breweries in the Brewers Association camp have thrown their support behind that one with the argument that any tax cut would be helpful, but the BA remains adamant that its legislation is the way to go.
Honestly, the BA does some great work that it gets just about no credit for. It helps out small breweries, it advances homebrewing through lobbying and education and it runs huge beer events that give even its tiniest members some big exposure. In the past year, however, the Small Brew Act and its craft brewer definition -- and the ensuing "craft vs. crafty" debate -- have made its message seem more about what big jerks the large brewers are and not about the great work small brewers do.
A "God Created a Farmer"-style ad for small brewers could do just that, but it's a costly proposition. The Brewers Association brought in just $13.4 million in revenue in 2012 and came up with only a $1 million surplus. That's about $3 million short of what it would take to reserve ad space, never mind what it would cost to pay a firm to put it together.
Our suggestion: Pass the hat. That Super Bowl ad cost may be tough for any one brewery to absorb, but BA includes three of the breweries on our list among its ranks. If some of those breweries can split the total and present a united front extolling the virtues of all small U.S. brewers, it could pay off in a big way. If not, best of luck to its members on those inter-city side bets and little-viewed YouTube ads.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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