Craft Beer Cellar (CBC) has been pretty hard-ass about the definition of craft from their inception in Belmont, Massachusetts in 2010: Sell a large chunk of your brewery to a big-beer corporation and you are off the shelves in their currently 28 stores. Now the first and - so far - only national chain of craft-only stores is dropping a big hammer releasing a ban-list of bad brews that their stores are no longer allowed to carry. In their word: "[S]tarting at the beginning of 2017, [...] all our stores will have a list [of] a series of breweries whose beer Craft Beer Cellar headquarters has deemed unfit for consumption, and will not be allowed on stores’ shelves. Reasons include lack of adherence to style, off flavors, and inconsistency in quality." Bam!
In our opinion that move is long overdue and probably only the first inkling of a major shake-out in our industry. The dirty little secret is, there are a lot of truly awful beer in the market and nobody on the craft-side of things dared to talk about it either out of misplaced solidarity with other brewers or not to expose their own shortcomings in the art and - yes - craft of brewing. After two decades of steadily improving craft-beer-quality a lot of brewing companies are pushing into the market that should not be allowed near a cooler or a tap, much less a beer drinker. As correctly identified by the founder of CBC the problem range from all kinds of outright flavor defects to style failings and uncertainty whether the same beer in name will taste the same from month to month.
Adherence to commonly agreed style standards will help brewers and consumers in the long run by elevating craft beer's quality and marketability even further above the industrial slosh currently crowding shelves and taps. Meanwhile we vow to remain true-blue by blending German brewing tradition with just a hint of California spirit, making simple, great and simply great beers you want to have another of.