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At Creekside Taproom, we only pour true Craft Beer on tap. Who and what determines what is a Craft Beer? There are plenty of Craft Beers out there with great quality and traditional microbrewing… but they’re not Craft Beers because of a line in the sand, or two lines actually. I guess you have to put a wall somewhere, and that first “production volume limit” is typically set at the Samuel Adams brewery; they seem to be the American Brewers Association benchmark. Generally speaking, Sam Adams barrel count seems to set the upper limit between Craft and Coors (and the other big boys, if you will), etc. It’s a production level or a percentage of ownership level. That being said, Craft Beer does owe a big Thank You to Coors (see printed content in the hop image here) >

The other determining factor is ownership. Lagunitas and Anchor Steam are no longer technically craft breweries due to their parent company ownership; they’re not “independent.” Still, good quality innovators, but not craft, you will not find Lagunitas or Anchor, Goose Island, Elysian, Hop Valley, Ballast Point et al on tap a Creekside.

Other General Crafty Insights:

  • Craft brewers are small brewers
  • The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent
  • Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley; interesting and sometimes non-traditional ingredients are often added for distinctiveness
  • Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism and sponsorship of events
  • Craft brewers have distinctive, individualistic approaches to connecting with their customers
  • Craft brewers maintain integrity by what they brew and their general independence, free from a substantial interest by a non-craft brewer
  • The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer

What Is a Craft Beer

According to the American Brewers Association, craft beer is one that is created by a “small and independent brewer.” To put it simply, craft beer is a beer that has been independently brewed in a facility that does not produce more than six million barrels of beer per year. This leads to an alternative brewing and fermentation process. Using a traditional base of malted barley, the craft brewer thoughtfully adds different ingredients to come up with an inimitable flavor for the brew.

There is also a special rule for ownership, in that, at least 75% of the brewery must be owned by someone who is actually an independent craft brewer. This rule guarantees that mega-breweries cannot take over craft breweries, thus maintaining the unique status of the smaller brew and allowing for special techniques.

Are There Differences Between Craft and Non-Craft Beers?

Well, other than the size of the brewery, there are, in fact, many differences between traditional beer and the newer craft varieties. For one, craft brewers put a lot of time, energy, and effort into the actual taste of the small-batch beer. In this era of the foodie, they are constantly trying to be innovative. By experimenting with some non-traditional ingredients and flavors, these brewers are aiming to create delicious, unique infusions.

Craft breweries relish the challenge of concocting unusual flavors, sometimes associated with seasonal ingredients. Many craft brewers work with local farms to procure the best ingredients for their brews. They also strive to follow practices that are good for the environment.

Craft beer brewers are more like independent or mom-and-pop stores as compared to large chains. The craft brewer often becomes a part of the community, sponsoring charity events at the brewery or donating products. Some craft brewers even create sponsorships or partner with professional sports teams.

Is a Craft Brewery the Same as a Microbrewery?

In a word, no. A microbrewery is defined by the number of barrels of beer it produces each year, numbering no more than 15,000 in one year. While a craft brewery may brew much more than that, the major difference is that the craft brewery must be independently owned, while the parent of a microbrewery may be a large beer manufacturer. Plus, microbreweries may not put the same emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients that a craft brewer does. …this info per our friends at Taps and Caps, staying true to the Craft.