The purpose of this article is to simplify the daunting world of craft beer. With everyone throwing around the words “beer ratings” and “microbrewery” it can leave you asking “what is craft beer, anyway?”. The purpose of this article is to clearly define the history and definitions of these terms in order to dispel any myths around the movement, and allow you to make an informed choice next time you come to your local craft beer store. To begin, let’s start with the term craft beer, it is widely defined based on three criteria
Small – the brewery must make no more than six million barrels of beer a year
Independent – The majority owners can not be a non- craft brewery.
Traditional – a majority of the company’s production should be based around traditional ingredients, or innovative takes on traditional ingredients and methods. Unfortunately your favorite alcoholic lemonade, while delicious, is not craft beer.
If a beer meets these criteria then it can be called a microbrewery (there are levels within that distinction, but for brevity’s sake we won’t go into it). To give you a look at the severe difference in magnitude between a microbrewery and an industry leader, take a look at a few statistics. In 2015 Anheuser Busch InBev’s sales were 43.6 billion dollars. Whereas Samuel Adams, one of the highest grossing names in craft beer, had a comparative 966$ million in sales in 2014. That means Samuel Adams, one of the highest grossing names in craft beer, has sales that are .02% of Anheuser Busch InBev’s. This gives you an idea of the drastic difference between leading domestic brands and your local microbrewery. Regardless of how much higher the beer ratings may be for these smaller companies, the disparity in revenue is astounding. For this reason, next time you are at your local craft beer store, take a minute to ask yourself again “What is craft beer?” make sure that if it is craft beer you are looking for, you aren’t just buying one of the giant companies craft options. On your next visit, just ask us and we will lead you toward the beer you’re looking for.