MillerCoors has a message for beer snobs: Blue Moon is an authentic craft brew. So show a little respect.
Aficionados long ago dubbed Blue Moon an impostor cooked up by a megabrewer to exploit the explosive growth of artisanal beer. In recent months, small beermakers have stepped up their attacks -- calling suds like Blue Moon "crafty" for not spelling out their corporate parentage. Micro breweries have reason to be defensive: Blue Moon has grabbed what equals 15 percent of the U.S. craft market, expanded as far as Japan and spawned an Anheuser-Busch InBev knockoff called Shock Top.
After years of quietly building its brand in the shadow of MillerCoors, Blue Moon is fighting back against the naysayers. Blue Moon is even taking credit for helping to popularize craft.
The fight over Blue Moon's legitimacy foamed over late last year when the Brewers Association, craft's primary U.S. trade group, published a blacklist of companies, including MillerCoors, that didn't fit its definition of a "craft brewer."
Craft brewers are "small, independent and traditional," according to the definition. That means they produce less than 6 million barrels a year -- it used to be 2 million until Sam Adams maker Boston Beer Co. got too big to qualify. They also must be less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft megabrewer and meet certain ingredient thresholds.
While still pushing for more transparency, the Brewers Association has since removed the blacklist from its website.