What’s the deal with craft beer?

12 Apr

Craft beer is, as Mugatu says, “so hot right now” – but a lot of us are still unfamiliar with the drink. What is craft beer, and how is it different from the regular ones?

The US Brewers Association offers a rigid definition: craft beer is beer that is made by brewers who are

  • “small” (producing less than two million barrels per year),
  • “independent” (less than 25 per cent of shares is owned by non-craft brewers), and
  • “traditional” (having either all-malt flagship or “at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavour”).

In 2015, there are 4,225 craft breweries in the US, while Australia has over 130 breweries as of 2013.

Craft beer has been praised for its stronger, fuller taste, compared to regular beer’s “watery”, “fizzy yellow lagers” flavour. Advocates also argue that craft beer could help promote healthier drinking habits by encouraging moderate consumption of quality beer.

“Craft beer is a little less associated with excess drinking or binge drinking,” IBISWorld senior industry analyst Andrew Ledovskikh told ABC. “It is seen as a bit more of an experience — an experience that can be enjoyed without the negative connotations of alcohol.”

Australian craft brewer Ben Kraus said craft beer is a sign of growing interest in the beverage. “People used to order a wine because it was sweet or dry, but now they know more, they will want a certain grape variety, even down to the area in which it was produced,” Kraus told James Halliday’s Wine Companion magazine. “Beer’s heading in the same direction with people starting to ask for certain styles.

“People’s education and awareness has changed a great deal, pushed by the breweries creating new styles of beer, venues demanding new products and consumers wanting to try something new. The curve on the graph has just started to accelerate, it’s generating momentum and will keep growing exponentially over the next 10 years.”

Interested yet? Try having a craft beer at your local pub, and see if it changes your mind.

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