LALKELAND, Fla. -- The Brewers Association has launched a new initiative to help craft beer enthusiasts differentiate between a craft beer and beers produced by large, foreign beer companies, or “Big Beer.”

Participating craft beer companies will have a seal on their bottles that says “Independent Craft” to indicate its independently owned.

“These breweries run their businesses free of influence from other alcohol beverage companies which are not themselves craft breweries,” the Brewers Association, based in Boulder, Colo., said in a release.

People who sell craft beer, including the owner of Lakeland's Beer Rev Mike Dodge, say large beer companies have been buying out smaller brewers. He said not all beer drinkers can tell the difference between a brew that looks like a craft beer, but is really owned by a big company, and a genuine craft beer.

"It's kind of like, if you can't beat 'em, own 'em," Dodge explained.

Several Tampa Bay breweries are already planning to use the seal to identify themselves as independent breweries, including Coppertail Brewing Co. and Cigar City Brewing.

"You have to educate people on what they're actually buying, who's making the beer, who owns the beer, where they're truly located," Gary Kost of Coppertail Brewing Co. said.

Cigar City Brewing’s founder Joey Redner is a Brewers Association board member and played a part in helping create the seal.

The following information is straight from, on what constitutes a craft brewery

  • Small- Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent- Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Traditional- A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.