2. Pyramid Brewery/Magic Hat Brewing
Why it's not craft: "Imported adjunct beer sales exceed domestic production"
This has nothing to do with Pyramid's apricot beer, its brewpub in Seattle, its restaurants or its bland labeling that make it look oddly like Costco house brew. It has nothing to do with Magic Hat's apricot beer or its Burlington, Vt., brewery being surrounded by high-profile competition such as Hill Farmstead and Heady Topper maker The Alchemist.
This has everything to do with who's owned these two breweries and, more importantly, who owns them. Pyramid's been on a wild ride since 2008, when it was sold to Magic Hat Brewing of roughly $25 million. Just two years later, investment firm KPS Capital Partners and its North American Breweries snatched up Pyramid and Magic Hat and included them in its stable alongside beers such as Genesee Cream Ale, Dundee Honey Brown, Canada's Labatt Blue and Costa Rica's Imperial.The Brewers Association didn't like that and Pyramid's parent company for selling too many imports, but Pyramid and Magic Hat's current situation is even more globally complex. In 2012, KPS Capital sold NAB to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a subsidiary of Florida Ice and Farm, for $388 million. That makes Pyramid, Magic Hat and tiny Portland, Ore.-based Portland Brewing even more minute portions of a large international conglomerate. Even that probably wouldn't have been such a big deal if Pyramid and Magic Hat hadn't come from such inherently crafty beginnings. The tiny, creative Washington and Vermont breweries reacted about as poorly as they possibly could to consolidation. They became more standardized and far-out favorites faded away. While other craft beers have seen sales soar in the past five years, Magic Hat and Pyramid combined to sell 337,000 barrels in 2012. That's about equal to the 336,000 they sold both the year before and in 2008. By comparison, Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ore., is just behind Magic Hat and Pyramid with 253,000 barrels sold in 2011, but increased sales from 182,000 in 2008. Beer Marketer's Insights still views these brands as craft and notes that they are independently run, but their murky ownership and results seem to be exactly what the Brewers Association is trying to avoid.
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