What Is Craft Beer?

The Pilsner thread got me thinking about various beers in the marketplace. I think that most of us would call Budweiser an industrial, or non-craft beer, but what about Sam Adams and their ilk? Are they craft or not? The reason I bring this up is that I was talking about brewing with someone who works at a very large Oregon brewery, and he was telling me that they can make a batch of their one lager in a little over a week [wow.gif] . Everything I’ve read about lager brewing would say that you need at least five weeks to make a decent lager, and longer is better. Pilsner Urquell takes five weeks to make theirs, and we usually take at least seven weeks to make ours. We also have a “craft-brewery” in Oregon that contract brews Henry Weinhard’s for Miller. Are these bigger “Craft Breweries” marketing an image that’s not really true?

Emphatically yes. PS: there’s no Easter Bunny and Bad Santa was a documentary… [snort.gif]

I think Boston Brewing, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are largely still accepted as “craft” by the community because they still seem to push forward with the same spirit as when they were smaller operation. The craft community also embraces Chimay and Samuel Smith and those are hardly small ops. I don’t believe they are trying to pass themselves off as anything they are not, nor does Stone or any of the more recent success stories.

The craft community probably looks less favorably on Goose Island for selling to InBev even though the beers have been left alone and BCBS remains one of the great American beers. Widmer bros the same, but to a lesser degree. As with any community or movement, there are contradictions and compromises.

For all the pasteurized/mass produced Boston Lager out there, I think it simply rocks that they do the homebrew contests and bottle the winners’ recipes with their name and picture on it. Likely something Three Floyd’s or Russian River probably couldn’t do.

Craft brewer may simply be a term that’s run its course. A quick check on wikipedia shows an amazing range of breweries that fit under the current definition of a producer who makes less than 6 million barrels a year (and isn’t a subsidiary of a much larger operation). That number is so large that is makes a farce of the term – even Boston Brewing doesn’t come anywhere near the ceiling.

Samuel Smith is about as “craft” as it gets. Read this for some interesting information: Samuel Smith Old Brewery - Wikipedia

FWIW, although I live 35 miles from the Sam Smith brewery, it is very hard to find their beers where I live (no Sam Smith pubs in my area, and I’m aware of exactly two local places I can buy some of their beers at retail). In general, my experience thus far has been that it’s easier to find Sam Smith in the States than in the UK.

I read a few months back that the number had been MUCH lower, but they raised it to that amount so that Boston Beer Co would still be included. Talk about rigging the system. Anyone who thinks most of the Sam Adams products are craft beer in a true sense is a bit mislead, I would say. I agree that it’s wonderful that they do those homebrew contests and market the winners’ recipes.

Doug, that is true, and has to do with some legislation to reduce brewery excise taxes. They needed a level that would include Boston Beer Co for their political clout. I agree with Steve that it is a term that’s run its course. Probably a better way to look at it is:

Nano Brewery - Less than 1,000 BBL
Micro Brewery - 1,000 to 25,000 BBL
Regional Brewery - 25,000 - 250,000 BBL
National Brewery - 250,000 - 6,000,000 BBL
Mega Brewery - Bigger.