Craft beer Flies Independent flag in Big Beer Battle

Image: Rendering of the Independent Craft Brewer Seal, courtesy of the Brewers Association.

The heat has been turned up on the craft beer versus Big Beer skirmish, and now the Brewers Association – the craft industry’s not-for-profit trade group – launched a new seal touting independent craft brewers.

Featuring a beer bottle shape flipped upside down, the seal “captures the spirit with which craft brewers have upended beer, while informing beer lovers they are choosing a beer from a brewery that is independently owned. These breweries run their businesses free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft brewers,” according to the BA.

The BA cited a Nielsen study that found that “independent” and “independently owned” strongly resonated with the majority (81%) of craft beer drinkers. “Increasingly, they are looking for differentiation between what’s being produced by small and independent craft brewers versus Big Beer and acquired brands. Beer drinkers, especially Millennials, expect transparency when it comes to their food and beverages. That transparency and underlying ownership can drive their purchase intent.”

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Among those “independent” craft brews, an annual survey conducted among home brewers – considered to be especially discerning tasters and steady consumers of craft beer – has found a new favorite. After 8 years of Russian River Brewing Company’s revered Pliny the Elder double IPA dominating the top spot, Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale was named number one in the annual Best Beers in America survey conducted by Zymurgy magazine.

“As homebrewers, Zymurgy readers have more refined palates than most for tasting beer,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “The Best Beers in America survey reveals which beers are leaving the biggest impression on the minds – and mouths – of these discerning beer drinkers.”


Top-ranked beers:

1. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

2. Russian River Pliny the Elder

3. Founders Breakfast Stout

4. Three Floyds Zombie Dust

5. Bell’s Hopslam

6. Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), tied with The Alchemist Heady Topper

8. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, tied with Sierra Nevada Celebration

10. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA


Top-Ranked Breweries:

1. Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Comstock, Mich.

2. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.

3. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.

4. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif. and Mills River, N.C.

5. Stone Brewing, Escondido, Calif., Richmond, Va., and Berlin, Germany

6. Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, Calif.

7. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.

8. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.

9. Lagunitas Brewing Company, Petaluma, Calif. and Chicago, Ill.

10. Ballast Point Brewing, San Diego, Calif.


The complete list of Zymurgy’s Best Beers in America is available at

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