US retail chain Walmart has been sued in Ohio for deceiving customers into thinking they were consuming a legitimate craft beer. According to the lawsuit, the company made up a fictitious brewery, ‘Trouble Brewing’, to capitalise on growing demand for craft beer. As a matter of fact, the suit alleges, Trouble Brewing’s parent company was Genesee Brewing Company, which annually produces more than the six million barrels that identify craft breweries in the US.
Elsewhere, standards are different. In Australia, for example, a craft beer is defined as independent, traditional and 100 percent Australian-owned with no ownership or control by a major brewer. However, the question remains as to whether they can still be called ‘craft beer’ when an industry giant purchase them. The same dilemma emerged in early February in New Zealand when DB Breweries bought Tuatara. DB reassured consumers that they will make no changes to the recipe, and it’s true that a bigger ownership can result in better distribution and quality. It’s the feel-good factor that may be affected. NZ consumers, however, shouldn’t despair as our market has been breeding ground for 168 craft breweries, with 1,500 unique craft beers being available.