As a writer that has received some backlash from the craft beer community in the past, I wanted to sympathize with the folks at Consumer Report for their recent ranking of the best craft beers. But, after checking out the selections, it’s understandable why the non-profit magazine is feeling the wrath of craft beer lovers.
First off, the magazine only conducted a blind taste test of of 23 ales and lagers. That’s a very small sample of all the craft beers currently on the market. With over 2,400 breweries in the U.S., selecting only 23 brews just doesn’t do the industry justice.
The second problem with the list, and this is the main issue, is that Consumer Report awarded Shock Top and “its big malty flavors of molasses, caramel, and honey with relatively low bitterness and some sweetness” a “best buy” rating. So, what’s the big deal?
Even the most casual of beer drinkers are well aware that Shock Top is produced and owned wholly by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer. This obviously means that Shock Top is by absolutely no means and no exceptions allowed should be considered a craft beer.
While Consumer Report did include some worthy selections, such as Stone IPA, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Samuel Adams Hopology Collection Latitude 48 IPA and lagers from Anchor Steam and Brooklyn, the inclusion of Shock Top pretty much means that their list is invalid.
As the website Beer & Whiskey Bros. points out, “the fact that they’ve labeled an imposter brand as a can’t-miss craft beer” is what’s really rubbing beer geeks the wrong way. Here’s a major publication pushing a non-craft beer onto the mainstream. And, this why the little breweries can’t compete with the big boys.
If this list wasn’t about the best craft beers, then maybe the uproar wouldn’t have been so fast and furious. But, that’s not the case. And, Consumer Report now look inept.
A version of the Consumer Reports article “Best Bets in Beers” will appear in its August, 2013 issue, but we imagine this backlash will continue long after it’s released.
Until then, what do all the beer lovers out there think of Consumer Report labeling Shock Top as a top craft beer? Is it just an oversight on the part of Consumer Report? Or, do you think that Anheuser-Busch had a part to play in the composition of the list?