Panthers fumble with misplaced beer cart

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Yesterday, I witnessed the Panthers put forth great effort, yet come up just short. I’m not talking about their performance on the field versus the Seahawks, yet it still certainly applies. No, I’m referring to something that can be found outside section 101 — the Beer Garden.

It’s not the Beer Garden itself I have a problem with. The Panthers organization has really outdone itself here, making a point to feature craft beer from across both Carolinas. Charlotte favorites NoDa and Olde Mecklenburg can be found here, as well as offerings from Foothills and RJ Rockers. And kudos to them for making this one of many places to find local craft beer inside Bank of America Stadium.

My problem is simple — located just underneath a sign touting the “Local Craft” offerings is a prominent beer cart that peddles wares that are neither local nor craft.

image_credit_-_Ford_Craven.jpg
  • Ford Craven/Cheers Charlotte Radio

So, much like a screen pass on 4th and 25, let’s talk about the bungled call combination of Shock Top and Goose Island being served in the “Local Craft” section.

Really fast, let’s break down what constitutes craft beer, so you can begin to see the fumble. To be considered a craft brewer, you must be small (producing less than 6 million barrels a year) and you must be independent (less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer). These aren’t definitions I made from whole cloth; this is from the Brewers Association, the trade group representing craft brewers nationwide.

In 2012, 600,000 barrels of Shock Top were produced, doubling its production from the year before. “But isn’t that well under the 6 million barrel figure you just quoted?” you might ask. Yes, and if Shock Top wasn’t just a figment of Anheuser-Busch’s imagination and was an actual stand-alone brewery, it’d fit the Craft definition.

Speaking of “owned by Anheuser-Busch,” let’s talk about Goose Island. That’s right, “Chicago’s Craft Brewery” got bought back in 2011, and lost its Craft Brewery designation in the purchase. In summary, Shock Top and Goose Island — not Craft.

Alright, now let’s look at that “Local” word. Anhueser-Busch operates 12 breweries across the country, but none of them in the Carolinas. Closest one to us would be in Cartersville, Georgia: 275 miles away and in Falcons territory, no less. I couldn’t find any figures on where exactly Shock Top is made, but, assuming it’s made in Georgia, that’d disqualify it from fitting under the “Local” designation. The Goose Island being poured is a little easier to source, with those kegs coming from either Fort Collins, Colorado, or Baldwinsville, New York. Say it with me now: Shock Top and Goose Island, not local.

Panthers, I appreciate the craft beer attention, I really do. I had to walk not a handful of sections to buy my cans of Hop, Drop & Roll. It’s never been easier to find craft beer in your stadium. I just have a problem with non-craft beer being poured in your craft section, and being passed off as something it’s not. It’s akin to me hawking unlicensed Panthers T-shirts in the lots, an action I’m sure would get the attention of your lawyers.

I’m sure you have more pressing matters to attend to, like preparing to host the Saints on Thursday. But would you at least consider sliding that non-local, non-craft beer cart out from under that “Local Craft” sign, at least just a few yards? Perhaps Jonathan Stewart could do it, since he was good for 79 yards yesterday.

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