I’m taking an on-line course on the business of craft beer. I’ve learned a lot in only the first week.
Among the great take-aways I got from last week’s first module for the course is that not everything that claims to be craft beer really is.
To produce a true ‘craft’ product, the brewery must be small and must use ‘traditional’ recipes. This makes sense. Before we called these drinks ‘craft,’ we referred to the breweries as micro-breweries. Some were even so small as to be called nano-breweries. What’s brewed by these craft breweries are beers that tend to be flavorful and rich, hoppy perhaps, or fruity, quite unlike the weaker lagers produced by the major breweries (macro-breweries or ‘Big Beer’).
When most people think of craft beer, they think of IPAs or seasonal ales. Something that one might purchase for a special occasion.
But there’s one more caveat to being a true craft brewery. A craft brewery is independent of Big Beer. That is a craft brewery is less than 25% owned by a brewery that is itself not a craft brewery.
Several brands that a treated like craft really are not, because they are largely owned and run under the umbrella of Big Beer. The truest of beer snobs won’t drink that stuff.
Go here and learn who the biggest craft breweries were in the United States in 2014. Notice that some of the most popular craft-ish brands aren’t there, but you might just see them in the footnotes as owned by Big Beer.
Once you’ve done that, go out and support independent, traditional, and small craft breweries.