Local breweries hope small seal makes big difference

This small seal on a can of beer indicates the brew was made by an independent, locally owned company. (KATU Photo)

Most customers probably overlook a small seal that's been popping up on cans and bottles of some Pacific Northwest breweries, but the beer companies hope it influences consumers' buying habits.

The Brewers Association says 4,000 of its members now boast a label on their cans and bottles that mark its beers as an independent, locally owned company.

"That independent seal let's people know that we're local, we're just like you down the street, we don't have to answer to investors every two seconds," said Great Notion Brewing co-owner Paul Reiter.

Less than one quarter of all the beer consumed in Oregon is made in the state. Local brewers hope the seal spurs sales, reminding beer drinkers to seek out local brews.

Reiter says the seal is needed to separate small craft breweries from their competitors, like 10 Barrel and Hop Valley, which were recently purchased by AB InBev, a multi-national corporation.

"I do think it's swinging the pendulum back and letting the customer, when they go to purchase beer, know what's up and know what's right in their brew and start to look for that," Reiter said.

Statistics from Oregon's Office of Economic Analysis show the state's brewery boom may be slowing down, as the number of breweries opening up has slowed down since 2013, while twice as many breweries shut down in 2017 compared to four years earlier.

At Coalition Brewing in Southeast Portland, 80 percent of their sales are in the Portland Metro area. Owner Phil Boyle says it's vital consumers support local brewers because they put their money back in the region's farms for their brewing supplies.

Boyle's company has grown in part by the rising popularity of its CBD-infused beers. The non-psychoactive chemical found in cannabis and hemp has brought his brewery attention and a boost in sales. He says it's not an accident that his brewers tried it out, and not their more well-funded competitors.

"Most innovation comes from small breweries willing to take that risk," Boyle said. "That other big breweries can't afford to do."

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