Beer 101: What is Craft Beer?

A Selection of International Beers and Craft Beers
A Selection of International Beers and Craft Beers

With the introduction of various beers in the market today, it is hard for anyone to decipher which is which. From “International,”  “Premium,” and “Special” Beers, anyone who would want to buy a bottle of beer would have a hard time knowing what is the difference.

With that in mind, I thought of writing this article to make it easier for anyone to make it easier to know what’s the difference between these labels.

First and foremost, Craft Beer is the most famous label that gets thrown around right now when it comes to small breweries. The meaning of Craft Beer comes from the Brewers Association (based in the USA). Usually, it is beer brewed according to the capacity of the brewery.

Here is the definition of a Craft Brewery from the Brewers Association (http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/craft-brewing-statistics/craft-brewer-defined):

  • Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.
  • Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

The problem with the definition of Craft Brewers here in the Philippines is that these definitions are not appropriate for the country. These definitions are appropriated towards the US. Thus, brewers here in the Philippines are not considered as craft breweries (in the Brewers Association sense).

Moving on, the one aspect that could be taken from the definitions earlier would be the definition for traditional craft brewers. In my opinion, one can be considered a craft brewery as long as its focus is on focusing on the craft of brewing beer, whether traditional or innovative. A craft brewer can call itself as one as long as the focus of the brewer is on quality and not quantity.

Further on, how do you determine if a beer is a craft beer? How do you know immediately if the beer is a craft beer? Honestly, it is hard to answer the questions directly. It takes a little bit of research to determine if one is a craft beer.

Hitachino's Nest White Ale - A Good Japanese Craft Beer
Hitachino’s Nest White Ale – A Good Japanese Craft Beer

If the question is on the local craft breweries, the answer would be yes. Most, if not all local breweries in the country are focused on quality and not quantity. Local craft brewers can’t compete with macrobreweries such as San Miguel and Asia Brewery in terms of price. Thus, the price of the local brews are higher than what you would get if you compare it to the local macrobreweries.

Local breweries focus on the artisanal aspect of brewing. They can also be called microbreweries. That’s the reason why in some occurrences, the two words are usually thrown around together especially when it comes to the brewing facility. It is not always the case but with the state of the beer scene here in the country, microbreweries and craft breweries can be synonymous.

Pinoy Craft Beer at  Global Beer Exchange
Pinoy Craft Beer at Global Beer Exchange

While the focus on the past paragraphs has been on local beer, there is a question on beers from other countries.

If the beer comes from the US, if the beer is certified as a Craft Brewery by the Brewers Association, the beer that you’re drinking is a craft beer. It’s that simple. If the US beer comes from Global Beer Exchange, it’s automatically a craft beer. The owner of Global Beer Exchange will never sell non-craft US beer.

If it’s from a country other than the US, a safe bet would be to do a little research and determine if the beer focuses on the craft of brewing or the quality of brewing. If the research does not provide a good answer, the best bet is to find an equivalent of the Brewers Association from the country of origin and search it the brewery is certified by the corresponding association.

After the exhausting exercise on definitions, the best way to determine a craft beer is all about the quality of the beer. The best way to determine a beer is good is through tasting it. If you like the beer, then that’s good enough!

Have a great weekend guys!

Beerman out!

Additional information:

I shall write an article on Beer Styles soon. The moniker International Beers is to hard to define. As of now, most international beers being available at bars and other locations are usually Macrobreweries that come from other countries. Don’t take this as verbatim. The Beer Styles article will try to answer this confusing moniker.

Image source:

The Global Beer Exchange Pinoy Craft Beer Photo comes from Global Beer Exchange’s Facebook Page:

Check out their page at https://www.facebook.com/GlobalBeerExchange

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