By Editor In Chief Ed M Morris
Over the Easter weekend, I was in a Walmart (Queensbury, NY), and I spotted a craft beer "Cat’s Away IPA". I took it down and looked at the cans for a closer look. Eye catching graphics on the cans, the usual data about the beer itself. And while it is being sold as "Walmart's own brand of craft beer" the beer itself is produced by Trouble Brewing. And there is no indicator that Walmart is involved with the beer itself. If I hadn't heard about the beer in industry news previously, I would have thought Trouble Brewing was a new Craft Brewery.
For research, I put in my cart, paid for it and took it home. More on the actual beer later.
So when it comes to being called a craft beer, who do we consider the brewer here? Walmart and Trouble Brewing are partnered to bring a store brand craft beer to the store's 11,000 locations (the ones that are allowed to sell beer) or Trouble Brewing? Who is Trouble Brewing? I never heard of them before.
And things are even more in the gray area according to the Washington Post: "In the case of Walmart, no American brewery with the name Trouble Brewing actually exists. The applicant listed on filings for the with the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is “Winery Exchange, Inc.,” now known as WX Brands, which “develops exclusive brands of wine, beer and spirits for retailers around the world,” according to its website. The brewery address given on the TTB documents is Genesee Brewing’s business office."
Turns out Genesee doesn't brew beer either, they contract production out to other brewers as well. This rabbit hole gets weirder the more I travel down it. Kind of wish I didn't take that beer off the shelf in the first place.
This method of sourcing a "House Beer" for retailers is not uncommon. Trader Joe's and Costco does it as well. So this is nothing new. I just would like to see more visible data on the can/bottle that clearly shows that the retailer is not the company who is actually brewing the beer you are considering buying.
Is Cat's Away IPA any good? It's wasn't bad, not great, would I buy it again? No. I admit I am not a fan of IPA's, but I wanted to give it a try. At a price below $8.00, it was hard to ignore on the shelf.
So back to the title of this post "Beer or Bullsh$t", is this Walmart/Trouble Brewing beer a craft beer? I leaning towards no.
Have you tried Cat's Away or any of the other Walmart craft beers? Let me know what you think in the comments. I would be curious to see what you think.