STOWE — How do you know a beer that’s labeled “craft beer” is really made by a small, independent producer? You don’t.
That’s why the Alchemist Brewery of Waterbury and Stowe, has debuted a new seal that says “100%, Independent, Family Owned.”
The brewery previously printed the widely used and recognized Brewers Association’s Certified Independent Craft seal on all of their canned and bottled beer offerings.
However, over the years, The Brewers Association has updated its definition of a craft brewery multiple times to help retain some of its biggest members.
And, while this may be good for the country’s biggest craft breweries, Jen Kimmich, who co-founded the brewery with her husband John in 2003, doesn’t feel the definition of “Craft Brewery,” as defined by the Brewers Association, paints a clear picture of their business.
“2019 was a challenging year for craft brewing,” Kimmich said. “We all watched with sadness as many of our favorite breweries were forced to sell out to larger beverage companies, brewery collectives and private equity firms. We don’t fault these brewers. These sales often come out of necessity—a last resort to protect a business that is struggling to stay competitive and financially viable. However, over the years, as our biggest craft breweries have grown in size and have merged with other beverage makers, the definition of craft brewery has also evolved.”
Kimmich says they are a small, family-owned craft brewery and intend to stay that way.
The Brewers Association defines “small” as a brewery that produces 6 million barrels of beer or less per year.
Their definition of “independent” is “less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled, or equivalent economic interest, by a beverage alcohol industry member which is not itself a craft brewer.
The Kimmichs believe these parameters are confusing for consumers, who may be unaware of the ownership behind their favorite brews.
The Alchemist is committed to being transparent, and to making sure that consumers know where, and how, their beer is made.
So, along with their in-house Art Director, Jess Graham, they created their own seal to highlight their business values and fiercely independent approach.
The Kimmichs started their Vermont-based brewery as a brew pub in 2003.
Today, The Alchemist crafts less than 20,000 barrels of beer annually between their two Vermont breweries and they are 100 percent independent.
They are a B-Corp, and they are deeply engaged in community philanthropy, including founding the Alchemist Foundation to expand opportunities for local youth.
“Our independence allows us to invest in our communities and our employees, instead of focusing on growth and investor profits,” said co-founder John Kimmich. “We are passionate about making great beer, but we are also committed to providing good jobs with strong benefits, investing in environmental initiatives to minimize our footprint, and giving back to our communities.”