What is Craft Beer?
The official definition of “Craft Beer” changes depending on what part of the world you are in.
According to the American Brewers Association, a craft brewer is defined as small, independent, and traditional. Small as in “an annual production of not more than six million barrels of beer”, independent as in “less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer”, and traditional as in “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”.
In Australia, the Craft Beer Industry Association classes a craft brewer as one who produces less than 40 million litres of beer per annum. Called “microbreweries”, this category has seen a 69% increase from 2010 to 2015. Similarly, in New Zealand, the number of craft breweries have increased from 30 in 2003, to over 100 in 2013.
Generally speaking, “Craft Beer” is brewed in small quantities, not mass produced, with high quality ingredients and passion. The most popular craft beer styles worldwide are India Pale Ale (IPA) and Stout or Porter.
Craft Beer Styles
Due to the unlimited combination of malts, hops and yeasts brewers are able to create a wide variety of different beers. Worldwide there are over one hundred different styles of beer. A style is defined by different characteristics like color, bitterness, aroma and flavor, alcohol level, carbonation and body. International beer awards like the World Beer Cup or the European Beer Star use descriptors for different beer styles to define the quality of the beer. Popular Craft Beer styles include: Amber Ale, India Pale Ale, Stout, American Wheat Beer, Baltic-Style Porter, Dubbel, Lambic, Witbier, Pilsener, Hefeweizen, Helles, Dunkel, and many more.