Wednesday , October 27 2021

What is "craft" beer? The answer may be more complicated than you think.



The golden road? Not crafts. Wicked Weed? Also, not craft. Ditto for Ballast Point, Goose Island, Lagunitas and even Anchor Brewing.

But the powerful Yuengling brewery and the Boston Beer Company, producer of the Sam Adams Boston beer? Yes – these two count as craftsmen.

"Craft" or this vague definition of what constitutes "craft" beer is usually attributed to the Brewers Association (BA), a non-profit trade team consisting of more than 4700 breweries and brewing industry employees. With time, this large organization has become widely accepted as having the authority to issue such a label. At the end of last month, their definition has been improved for the fourth time since 2007.

Today the definition of "craft" is triple: first, every brewery using a craft label must produce less than six million barrels a year; secondly, a craft brewery can not be more than 25% owned or controlled by "a member of the alcohol industry in the beverage sector who is not himself a craft brewer"; thirdly, most of craft brewing beer must be made using traditional or "innovative" ingredients of brewing – not aromatized malts.

This is the second principle in which matters become muddy for beer consumers trying to distinguish breweries. Some small breweries that Visitors crafts, but then they were bought by large macro breweries, such as Anheuser-Busch, Heineken or SABMiller, then they lose their craft status (which sometimes causes violent public opposition).

There are pros to buy through AB InBev or a similar conglomerate – for example, financial stability and expanded distribution – but for many small and independent brewers, these amenities come to the distasteful perception they "sold out".

But it's about beer buyers, not about its creators. Is the "craft" label relevant to these consumers in 2018? Yes sometimes. For others, no, as long as the beer tastes good or fresh somewhere nearby. There are still more drinkers who say that "craft" is meaningless in a word, because "craft" does not necessarily mean "well done". And all that has nothing to do with the freshness of beer or stability on the shelf.

But if these assumptions are "small", "independent" and "traditional" that BA supports are Import to individual drinkers, moving around beer corridors and refrigerators in the grocery store becomes much more difficult (unless they are willing to spend extra time looking for the "independent seal" BA on individual cans and bottles).

For some, the purchase of small businesses is not always easy, cost-effective or particularly satisfying; for others it is a moral obligation worth the trouble. Regardless of where beer buyers fall into this spectrum, the question remains: do you care who gets your money?

If it is so, the imperative of choosing who to serve is more important than one word.

To make your work easier, you can see some of the previously acquired branded products in the above gallery.

Alyssa Pereira is a writer of the SFGATE staff. Send it to [email protected] or find it on Twitter @alyspereira.

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