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What Is Craft Beer?

Craft Beer

About Craft Beer

The American beer industry is a classic example of the “American Dream.” In its most basic form, a few guys in a garage brewed an excellent, delicious beer and people loved it. This led to more brewing and, over time, to what we now think of as the beer industry.

Three to 15% of a large consumer market should seem sufficient to sustain a sizable fringe niche, but due to temperance movements, prohibition and post-prohibition regulations that niche went underserved for most of the twentieth century. This gap was finally filled when Jim Koch started the Boston Beer Company, brewed a recipe of his great-great-grandfather’s, and launched Sam Adams.

While it’s easy to point out what defines a macro brew like Budweiser or Miller Lite, it’s much harder to define what makes a craft beer. The best definition comes from the Brewers Association, which states that it is a beer made by a small independent brewery using traditional ingredients like malted barley and adding interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients for flavor, while also engaging in community outreach through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism and sponsorship of events.

The underlying fact is that consumers are increasingly seeking out something more flavorful than the familiar light lagers they find at most grocery stores. That is a good thing for those who want to try new brews and broaden their palate, but it also puts pressure on the smaller breweries to innovate even faster in order to keep up with a growing demand.

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