What is Craft Beer?
Craft Beer is a relatively small market segment, but it is growing in volume and popularity. It is also growing in the number of breweries and beer styles.
While many people think of craft beer as a specific style, it is actually a broader term that refers to any kind of beer produced by a small brewery or brewing company. According to the Brewers Association, a brewery can be considered a craft brewer if it produces 6 million barrels or less of beer each year and is not more than 25% owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
A few Congressional rulings during this time, like the legalization of homebrewing and a reduction in the small brewer levy, helped propel the craft brew movement forward. This helped revive styles that had fallen out of favor and created a demand for the specialized products brewing companies could produce.
The growth of craft beer can be traced back to the late 19th century when travel and increased industrialization introduced American consumers to the still robust brewing cultures of Europe. However, when Prohibition came into effect in 1920, the American brewing industry went into decline.
In 1978, there were 45 independent breweries left in the United States, but by that time, there had already been a shift in beer consumption. With more consumers craving variety in their beer, a group of enterprising individuals began brewing at home and revived many popular styles of beer that were no longer being produced.