Craft = independent?

19 Feb, 2020

Craft beer is on everyone’s lips, whether you want to drink it or talk about it! But where does this trend come from and what is its significance?
Initiated on the west coast of the United States in the 1980s, the “craft beer revolution” finally arrived in Switzerland at the end of the century, after a ripple effect in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.

And since then? Well, this movement has gained momentum, with the American pioneers now producing more than the largest Swiss breweries…! On the other side of the Atlantic, the term “craft” has been defined as the combination of “small” and “independent”. The two terms are very relative, since “small” in the USA corresponds to 9 million liters produced per year, i.e. 2.5% of annual production in Switzerland, and “independent” means that less than 25% of the brewery belongs to a company active in alcoholic beverages. This second point is important because since the decade 2010 a new trend has been emerging: the takeover of craft breweries by large brewery groups, which are consequently losing their craft status, or at least many important ideas behind a craft brewery.

What is the situation on the Old Continent, and in Switzerland in particular? There are no regulations in place in Switzerland, which leaves space for interpretation. In our view, the term “craft” is sometimes overused, whether by large breweries with clearly industrial methods or by small breweries that justify a product that does not meet consumer requirements. We would, therefore, prefer to stress the notion of independence, which has now become the real element of differentiation from the industrial world, in which large groups buy each other out and share the majority of the market. In Switzerland, more than 3/4 of the beer market is controlled by multinationals.

What about Dr. Gab’s? We believe that independence from these large groups is essential because it allows us to be masters of our own decisions. This allows us to listen to our consumers, be creative in our brewing process and be perceptive in our projects. It also guarantees reinvestment in the local economy, either directly with suppliers or indirectly with jobs created in the region. While consumers are increasingly looking for products that make sense, we hope to be part of this change and become an irritant for multinational beer companies. Of course, this change is only possible with the passionate community around us, from those who produce good beers to those who enjoy them.