- Small: The brewer can not produce over 2 million barrels of beer per year.
- Independent: 25% or less of the brewery is owned or controlled by an entity which is not themselves a craft brewer.
- Traditional: This one is very important. The brewer must have either an all-malt flagship (which is the highest volume beer they sell) or have at least 50% of its total volume in either all-malt beers or beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
Monday, May 17, 2010
What is a craft brewer?
Happy Craft Beer Week to all of you! Get out and drink some tasty beer during this week dedicated to craft brewers and craft beer culture. This week may open your eyes to some new beers and breweries, and might possibly bring up this question: What is a craft brewer?
Not too long ago, there was a period of time when the terms "microbrewery" and "macrobrewery" were commonly used. The definition of these terms was pretty self-explanatory. A microbrewery produced beer on a small scale, while a macrobrewery produced massive amounts of beer. These terms lost popularity because they were too generic and didn't indicate the beer quality produced by the brewers.
The term "craft brewer" is the standard these days. A brewery is either a craft brewer or not. Here is the definition from the Brewers Association: An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. That sounds good right? Well, you're probably still wondering, "What exactly does that mean?" Don't worry. Just read the following points from the Brewers Association, which further break it down:
However, you might be surprised to learn that your favorite craft beer is not produced by a "craft brewer." That doesn't mean they produce poor quality beers. It just means that they do not fit all of the requirements of the definition. Take our local August Schell Brewing, for example. They produce some excellent all-malt craft beers, but they are not considered a craft brewer. Why? Because their highest volume beer is Grain Belt Premium, which uses adjuncts to lighten the beer.
I have my own personal definition of craft beer. A craft beer is an artisan product created with much care and pride by a brewer who had the ultimate intention of producing quality brews, not high profit margins. Craft brewers are awesome and should be celebrated this week. Just don't forget about the other quality craft brews produced by brewers that don't fit the definition.