Walmart Is Selling Its Own Craft Beer -- When You Use The Definition Loosely

RealClear Contributor

            

Walmart already launched their own brand of craft beer in 2016, and now they're ready to expand. If you didn't notice, it's because the retail giant didn't want you to.

Walmart and the Craft Beer Market

If there is a consumer market to be tapped, Walmart wants to know how to tap it. So of course execs with the company noticed a spike in craft beer sales. They were keeping eyes on the craft beer trend a few years ago, and even issued a call to suppliers across the country asking for more IPA, pale ale, amber ale and Belgian-style ale beers. They are Walmart's top four best-selling craft beer types. 

Smells Like Trouble

Last year, Walmart started selling craft beer from Trouble Brewing. The beer was released in 3,000 Walmart stores across 45 states. The labels feature only Trouble Brewing and not Walmart, though the company said it created their craft beers "in collaboration" with the brewery. There's just one problem: there is no Trouble Brewing.

The Real Trouble

Said to be based in Rochester, NY, there is no brewery anywhere in the United States called Trouble Brewing. In looking at the official corporate filings made with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, "Winery Exchange, Inc." applied for the necessary tax paperwork -- not Trouble Brewing. Winery Exchange is known as WX Brands, which develops "brands of wine, beer and spirits for retailers around the world." The address listed on the forms is the business office for a company called Genesee Brewing.

Will the Real Craft Beer Please Stand Up?

Bad news: Genesee Brewing isn't a craft brewery, either. It brews several industrial brands, including Genesee and Genesee Cream Ale. 

Walmart agrees that they left their name off the labels, and they have a good reason why. "We were intentional about designing a package that conveys a look and feel you'd expect of craft beer," according to Teresa Budd, senior buyer for Walmart's adult beverage team. 

Craft Beer for the Masses?

But however they decide to introduce "craft" beer to consumers, is Walmart actually doing a good deed? Whatever anyone may think of their craft beer, Walmart is going to expose a lot more people at least to the idea of drinking craft beer. Maybe their mass-produced version of craft beer could serve as a gateway for big brewery drinkers to enter the world of true craft beer.

Do you think Walmart and craft beer can mix successfully? Share your opinion, and this story, on Facebook! 

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