May 202008

I stumbled across this article about the craft brewing industry. The title would have you think it focuses on brewers’ lobbying efforts in Washington, but it seems a bit disjointed to me. It does start off discussing the political concerns of the American craft brewing industry, but then meanders about, touching on beer’s complexity compared to wine, how beer’s perceived status can be elevated, and if the recent growth of the craft beer industry is a flash in the pan. All in all, a fluffy piece saved only by the fact that the questions it posed were answered by Charlie Papazian, homebrewing icon and president of the Brewer’s Association.

I applaud Newsweek for publishing an article about craft beer – even if it is only a “web exclusive” (sort of like this site). They got the timing and location right – after all, last week was American Craft Beer Week and the Brewer’s Association’s SAVOR event drew tons of beer enthusiasts, brewers, and, yes, even lobbyists, to the DC area. However, the article seems so light on substance – where’s the real discussion of the issues facing small breweries in America? Charlie P. is allowed to briefly mention how increased federal excise taxes and label printing requirements threaten to strangle an already over-regulated industry, but there is no follow-up by the interviewer and the article loses its focus.

Don’t get me wrong, I think discussing the status of beer as a beverage and getting the Brewer’s Association’s message out to the public is vital to the continued growth of the industry. However, an article titled “U.S. Brewers Bid for Influence on Capitol Hill” in the politics section of Newsweek should have a bit more meat to it. Was this a poor job by the interviewer, or was the story edited to appeal to a broader segment of the general public?

So, what do you think? Should we be happy as beer enthusiasts and brewers that Newsweek published anything at all? Is any press that doesn’t completely mangle the facts or badmouth beer good press for the craft beer industry? Or are we at the point now where we can demand more from an article like this?