3. Straub Brewing
Why it's not craft: Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"
We can't figure out what the old Pennsylvania brewers did to the folks at BA, but it must have been particularly cruel.
Did they say a hot new brewery's radler tasted like store-brand orange soda? Did they say a Samuel Adams' Kolsch tasted good for something brewed in a Mr. Beer? Do they keep copies of BA leader Charlie Papazian's book The Complete Joy of Home Brewing around their breweries as bathroom reading?
Whatever they did, it must have been terrible to warrant the attention paid to them on the group's Craft vs. Crafty list. We can understand Pittsburgh's Iron City being declared "non-craft," as its cans of low-end lager have done little to convince people otherwise despite sticking around since 1861. We can even see why Wilkes-Barre's Lion Brewery made the list, as it's been around since 1905 but does a bunch of contract brewing work for Pabst.
But Straub? That's just nonsense. Straub isn't distributed too far beyond its home in St. Marys, Pa., and only travels about as far as Ohio. It gives drinking-age visitors to its Northwest Pennsylvania brewery free beers from the "Eternal Tap" in its brewery wall. Its lager recipe hasn't changed since the brewery was founded in 1872.
As former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey once said "Bud is Bud and light is light, but Straub is Pennsylvania." BA is perfectly content to give "Pennsylvania" the finger at each opportunity.
For its part, the Brewers Association argues that Straub isn't craft for the same reason that just about every brewer that survived prohibition isn't craft: Their beers have corn in them.
Such a thing was apparently unthinkable in 2005, when the Association of Brewers and the Brewers' Association of America merged to form the Brewers Association and "promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts." At that time, there were any number of ingredients available for craft brewers to use. Stunningly, for German immigrants such as Peter Straub settling in the U.S. in the late 1800s, plucking two-row malt from any spot on the globe and dumping a ton of of bittering and aroma hops up to your brewkettle just wasn't possible.
Instead, German brewers had to throw some corn into the mix just to counter the effects of American malt. It's an important part of U.S. brewing history and one that brewers including Straub have painstakingly preserved. It's also an example of improvisation and ingenuity that the Brewers Association claims to support, but routinely talks down if it didn't take place sometime after 1975. BA doesn't mind having Straub among its members: It just wishes it had a few dozen more IPAs and limited-release Russian Imperial Stouts to offer. You know, original and creative beers.