4. August Schell Brewing
Why it's not craft: Uses adjunct ingredients in its beer, not "traditional"
The folks in New Ulm, Minn., really don't appreciate folks calling their beer "crafty," never mind "not traditional."
Founded in 1860 by German brewer August Schell, this brewery is the second-oldest family-run brewery in the U.S. behind Yuengling. It survived Prohibition by producting "near beer," soft drinks and candy and, in 2002, saved century-old Grain Belt brewing from oblivion by bringing it into the fold.
That move didn't sit well with BA, as Schell's flagship Deer Brand and Light beers and Grain Belt's light lagers all used adjuncts. When BA reserved Schell a place on the "crafty" list, however, the brewer didn't take it quietly. The brewery tore into BA and pointed out just why old-line German brewers use maize in their recipes. Keep in mind, they had to break this down to an organization that's supposedly steeped in beer knowledge and ostensibly uses that knowledge to draw discriminating beer lovers.
But education has been a huge part of Schell's latter-day existence. It kept styles such as Bock, Maibock, Hefewizen, Marzen, Alt and Gose alive while its BA counterparts were stumbling over each other to see who could empty a dump truck full of hops into their boil first. Its Chimney Sweep dark lager, Schell Shocked Radler and Zommerfest Kolsch held to traditional German recipes that the craft beer community is just getting around to revisiting.
If BA has any sense of U.S. brewing tradition, it's because brewers such as August Schell's stayed around and avoided buyouts by big beer companies long enough to remind craft brewers what that tradition is. Keeping them out of the club over a little bit of corn is not only unconscionable, but represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the word "tradition" that's so key to BA's definition of a craft brewer.