9 Craft Beers You Didn’t Know Weren’t Craft Beers


Is there really anything wrong with drinking a beer you think is a craft brew only to find out it’s not? No, not really. That said, if you don’t like having the wool pulled over your eyes and actually want to support smaller, independent breweries, you might want to be wary. The truth is, a lot of these supposed “craft” beers don’t adhere to true craft beer rules. Here are a few.



Like many others, Redhook Brewing began as a craft brewery back in the 80’s. Since then, however, it has formed the company Craft Beer Alliance Inc. (with Widmer and Kona) and Anheuser-Busch InBev owns about 35% of the company. Redhook


Goose Island

Goose Island is a bit of a sad one for us. The truth is, you can still get some really fantastic beer from them (seriously, go get your hands on some Sofie Paradisi and Bourbon County Stout), but a lot of the standard offerings are now outsourced. Anheuser-Busch InBev shelled out a cool $38.8 million to buy all of Goose Island back in 2011. Goose Island


Blue Moon

Blue Moon has taken a bit of heat over time because, while it almost always includes a slice of orange, it never includes mention on the bottle or can that it is made by MillerCoors. It’s part of a growing trend of the big companies trying to be part of the craft beer scene as slyly as possible. While refreshing and delicious, Blue Moon is definitely not a craft beer. Blue Moon Brewing Company


Shock Top

Despite this Consumer Reports article that lists Shock Top as one of the best craft beers, it is in fact not craft at all. It’s an Anheuser-Busch product clearly aimed at inserting themselves into the craft beer market. Shock Top Beer


Magic Hat

Magic Hat had all the makings of a great craft brewery when it opened up shop in the early 90’s, but their story got a little fuzzy. It’s not that they were scooped up by MillerCoors or Anheuser-Busch, but rather they bought Pyramid themselves and enticed North American Breweries (the company that owns Labatt and a few other imports) to purchase them together. Magic Hat



For a reason, see above. Pyramid Brew



Sorry Leine fans, but your beer is about as far from a craft brew as they come. First of all, they’re owned by SABMiller, so you got that, but they also use adjunct ingredients for flavor enhancement (a craft no-no). We know they’ve been around for ages and deserve their props, but they’re not technically “craft.” Leinie


Third Shift

Third Shift is a little more upfront about the fact that it’s made by MillerCoors, it says so in tiny letters on the labels. In fact, it’s their attempt at a foray into the craft beer world. Still, the limited availability and marketing make it clear that the folks at MillerCoors are seeing if they can give off a craft beer vibe. Third Shift Brewing



If you’ve been to Hawaii, you’ve had a Kona. Actually, you can find them all over the place (36 states to be exact), not just on the islands. Why? Probably because they sold 35% of the company to Anheuser-Busch InBev (same deal that went down with Redhook). Kona Brewing Co


  • DryDry

    I was outraged when I found out that Fudd bought Duff.

  • UrMom

    Do you mean to say that these aren’t MICRO-brews or that they aren’t CRAFT-brews?

  • Dave

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing this article. It blows my mind when I go to the grocery and try to find some new beers and can’t figure out if what I’m looking at is genuine craft brewed or not. I believe that craft breweries should unite and label their products to authenticate that consumers’ (my) money stays in the U.S. and supports awesome beer.

  • DryDry

    The small guys should organize and create some kind of seal of approval type CRAFT BEER badge they can all put on their beers so people will know who the big brewery fakers are.

  • Mike

    You know all these mega brewers were at one point CRAFT brewers in the 1800’s. They brought the concept of beer making to America and we’re bemoaned by American whiskey makers as un-American. If all these modern craft breweries start uniting and labeling their products as true “Craft Beer” then, ironically, they become a mega brewer as well.

  • Chuck

    Not that it changes the ownership situation for Leinenkguel, but, according to the Brewers Association’s definition of craft beer (which this article is referencing) adjuncts are acceptable if they are used to enhance flavor (rather than lighten flavor).

  • Bob from Hilo and Honolulu

    Actually, if you visit the Kona Brewing Company in Kailua-Kona or its pub in the Hawaii Kai area of Honolulu, you can have some superb brews that are NOT bottled on the mainland and are legitimate craft beers, despite the partial ownership by a mega-brewery.

  • particle6

    Any real craft beer drinker would have known those are not real craft beers…. hahaha

  • The Gnome

    Who cares if they aren’t craft if they taste good. Bunch of self important beer snobs are the only ones who care… and they can go F themselves as they typically have no real taste anyway.

  • The Gnome

    Seriously? Fakers? I bet you wouldn’t know a craft from a big-brew in a blind taste test… nor would 99.99% of the other beer snobs. Drink what you like and shut the F up.

  • John

    Yes, drink what you like, but please understand that mega brewers like AB InBev continually use underhanded tactics to compete rather than produce great beer. If you support the brands cited, you are anti-small business and unamerican. Our country is on better footing when small businesses thrive. Supporting large foreign owned mega breweries ultimately hurts you economically, and you are drinking an inferior product that depends upon marketing dollars to be successful. Drink what you like, but there should be transparency so everybody knows who makes the product you drink.

  • matt

    Yes, but they may still be American. Bud and Miller aren’t, and Coors is half Canadian. So “mega” or not, craft breweries employ Americans, keep dollars in the States, and pay taxes in the US.

  • Gnome Stomper

    The irony of your giving that advice is lost on you.

  • David the Gnome

    beer snob or not, you enjoy your brew while we enjoy ours. Its not our fault you dont know what good brew is and you have my pity. Myself, i will not go fuck, and instead cordially invite you to fuck yourself. Typical beer snob vs typical asshole. I hope one day we can agree, that you sir, are in fact, an idiot.

  • Lantern42

    These breweries don’t deserve to be panned simply for their ownership structure. The fact of the matter is they still get people to try new beers aside from the cheap tasteless fizz big beer peddles. So while it’s a shame that Blue Moon’s brewmaster reports to a guy in marketing, they don’t deserve the dismissiveness going on in the list above.

  • Phil McCrackin

    In so much as companies in the US “pay” taxes.

  • Phil McCrackin

    Only that their success, feeds money into the coffers of the cheap tasteless fizz peddlers pockets, which in turn, makes it that much harder for the little guys to get shelf space. Blue Moon, whether you like it, or hate it, is just a device to keep people from voting against cheap tasteless fizz peddlers with their wallets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ColinJoliat Colin Joliat

    For arguments sake, you should know that both Bud and Miller are brewed in America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ColinJoliat Colin Joliat

    It wasn’t an empty lawsuit. Magic Hat was in the right, and West 6th changed their label and basically admitted they were being douchebags.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ColinJoliat Colin Joliat

    I don’t give a shit what anyone drinks, but that’s like saying, “Who cares if it’s made in America so long as it works well.” There’s something to be said for supporting your own, and part of the reason people like craft beer is because they’re supporting independent, often small, American businesses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ColinJoliat Colin Joliat

    While it’s partially used by people as a tool for quality bias, I see it more as a matter of knowing who is profiting from your business. Imagine the outrage if Walmart opened up a bunch of small stores under Mom & Pop names.

  • Fat_Head_Carl

    Quite honestly, I’ll never make the mistake of using coolmaterial as a source for beer advice.

  • DryDry

    Good God, man, I can easily tell the difference between shit corporate beer and craft beer. I do drink what I like. People who drink big brew beer are also drink what they like, but that’s only because they don’t know any better.

  • Truth

    Give me beer and liberty or give me death! Drink whatever you want and to hell with the rest. Some of us actually care to support the “little guy” brewers simply because we like what they produce better than a mega brewer.

    Good taste is often imitated but never replicated.

  • Les Pane

    Re: Leinenkugel: “but they also use adjunct ingredients for flavor enhancement (a craft no-no)”

    Definitely. I mean, you don’t see Dogfish Head using adjunct flavor enhancers, or Stone, or any of the other trailblazing craft brewers. Especially not adjunct flavor enhancers like fruits, strange spices, exotic sugars, tea, coffee, or chocolate. Definitely not. No siree!

    Look, I like craft beers, and I like some on this list. Nothing’s worse than a beer snob telling folks what they should like or not like. Well, one thing *is* worse: when the beer snob seems clueless.

    I teach a class on beermaking and beer history. I write a beer-themed column in a local magazine. When people ask me what beer I like I say “it depends.” If I’ve just finished mowing the lawn on a hot day, and I’m sweating like crazy, few things are as refreshing to me as a very cold MGD. And Coors Banquet Beer, the gold label? That’s a good beer. But if I’m sitting around on a cold night with a nice fire going in the fireplace? I’ll reach for an Imperial Stout, or one of the barley wines. I’ve been cellaring for a few years.

    Do the craft beer movement a favor, and instead of trying to tell people they’re drinking crap, educate them by suggesting that if they like Blue Moon they might consider trying a Blanche de Chambly, or an Ommegang Witte.

  • Les Pane

    Erm, West 6th changed their label under threat of being driven out of business. Douchebags? No. Good beer? Yes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ColinJoliat Colin Joliat

    Good beer? Yes. Better than good, in fact. Waging a social media war over a trademark violation? Douchebag.

  • Les Pane

    Fighting back the only way they can against a corporate behemoth? Smart.

    Look at the lawsuit AB-InBev has against Belleville Brewing in England. Tiny brewery. Social media is the only way to fight sometimes.

    Even so, much of the West 6th social media stuff was organic and unorchestrated.

    But whatever.