The Rise of Craft Beer
What is craft beer? It is a beer fermented with organic, wild yeast and not grown using state-of-the-art, expensive equipment. Many times it is created by homebrewers (also called “microbreweries”) using recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Craft beer is made at the individual brewhouse of the brewer, usually on their kitchen or garage counter. The brewer also adds special yeast, water, hops, and other ingredients to create the beer that is drunk.
The term “craft beer” itself has a little bit of an interesting history. When the country was young, it was actually considered to be an alcoholic beverage; therefore, any beers that were labeled “craft beers” were really being created by bootleggers. When this definition was created in Prohibition, no one wanted to be defined as an alcoholic beverage, so “craft beer” became a term to describe any beer made at home by an individual or group who did not have to purchase it and could drink it without being charged with tax or illegal consumption. This way, we have a category that is not defined by legislation but by individual effort.
The growth of the microbrewery industry has contributed to the modern-day popularity of this beverage. In fact, the microbrewery movement was largely responsible for the formation of the American Beer Festival which is held every year in New York. With the creation of these specialty beers, came the rise of major brewing companies. There are currently over 100 major brewing companies in the US. Some of the most famous names in this industry include Coors, Widmer, Anheuser Busch, and Samuel Adams.
What has happened to craft beers? Many of these brewers have gone out of business or have merged with larger brewing companies to create mass-market beers. Many of these brewers have tried to change the taste of their product by massaging its flavor into popular brands like Budweiser. However, these brewers have done an excellent job at making great tasting craft beers that people will appreciate for years to come.
Microbreweries have also made a name for themselves because they brew small batches of excellent quality beers using a process called barrel fermentation. Many craft breweries also hire professional bottle shops to bottle their brews for them. The wide array of microbreweries have produced an interesting spectrum of beers that appeal to a wide range of beer drinkers. They may prefer one microbrewery over another, depending on the overall taste of the product.
Overall, craft brewers have given the world a lot more than they have taken away. Each brewer is trying to stand out from the crowd and showcase the unique flavor of their beer. Every brew feels different and this is what makes each beer different than what they replace the wheat with, or replace the oats in beer with. Each brewer has a story to tell and every home is lucky to have them brewing on their kitchen stove.