What Is Craft Beer?
Nothing soothes the soul like a frothy, refreshing glass of beer. But not all beers are created equal, and there’s a lot of confusion about what makes a beer craft or not. The Brewer’s Association defines craft beer as “beer made by a small, independent brewery that is not part of a large, multinational brewing company.” But what does that really mean?
In the mid-to-late 1980s, as laws began to loosen and home brewing became legal, a new movement in brewing began to gain traction. These independent breweries began to make full-flavored beers that were different than the bland, fizzy yellow beer of the mega brewing companies. These new breweries, now referred to as craft beers, helped open American drinkers’ minds and wallets to the glories of well-made beer.
This growth was fueled by a growing interest in local foods and beverages. This trend was evident in the success of farmer markets and Slow Food movements across the country. Consumer associations also formed to mobilize and promote specialized products, such as the plethora of breweries offering sour, fruity, or even boozy concoctions that earned them the craft label.
The number of breweries grew rapidly, and the industry continued to expand in the first decade of this century. Today, there are more than 2,000 active breweries in the United States and many more in the planning stages. And a new generation of craft breweries continues to offer a diverse array of artisanal beverages.