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What Makes a Craft Beer?

Craft Beer

As beer lovers, we all know people whose fridges are always packed with an exciting assortment of cans and bottles. But ask them what makes a beer “craft,” and you might get five different answers. The Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado, defines it as a beer that is not made by one of the big macro-brewery companies. The term is often used to refer to a small, independent brewery. But that can be confusing because many large breweries have grown to the point that they are no longer small or independent. Besides, the word “craft” can also mean beer that is made with interesting or non-traditional ingredients, or in smaller batches than mass-produced beers.

In addition to the brewing process itself, craft beer makers usually put a lot of effort into building relationships with consumers. They engage in philanthropy, product donations and volunteerism. They also strive to make their beers as flavorful as possible, while respecting tradition and using high-quality, hand-selected ingredients. In contrast, big breweries are in it for the money and have to produce massive amounts of beer quickly and at a low cost. They typically use cheap, filler ingredients like rice or corn to reduce costs and maintain a consistent taste.

In the early days of the craft movement, consumer associations encouraged breweries to specialize in beer by supporting their product and by pushing for better quality beers against mass-produced products. Now, the consumer base has expanded significantly and shifted to more conventional tastes. Consumers seem to have regressed to the mean, preferring tried-and-true favorites over the risky and experimental offerings that were so popular in the beginning of the craft movement.

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