A great article written by the guys at 360 Degree Brewing on the “what is craft beer?” debate.
The US seem to have the right and straightforward answer.
What is craft beer?
There has been much discussion within the UK beer industry as to the precise definition of
craft beer. As in many things, while we Brits like to ponder, discuss and argue, the
Americans have just cut out all of the waffle and come up with a definition.
The Brewers Association, the powerful body that represents craft and micro-breweries in
the U.S has stipulated the following three requirements:
- Small – less than 6 million barrels
- Independent – not owned by a bigger brewer
- Traditional – in ingredients and style
All seems very straight-forward doesn’t it?
However, it is when you look below these headline definitions that things become
increasingly interesting and perhaps give an even greater insight into what makes a craft brewer different
They are small brewers (fairly obviously).
• They use innovation, interpreting historic styles with twists and develop new styles.
• Using traditional ingredients alongside new ingredients to create these revised styles.
• Involved in their communities through philanthropy, donations, volunteering and sponsorship.
• Distinctive approaches to connecting with their customers.
• They maintain integrity by what they brew and being independent from a big brewer.
• The majority of people live within 10 miles of a craft brewer.
All of these definitions apply directly to what we are trying to do here at 360 Degree
Brewing and the local connections, in terms of both our involvement and the involvement of
local people in our brewery is clearly essential. As we discuss later in this newsletter, this
summer will see us do many more things on a local level to build that local loyalty while also
trying to get more and more of our beer out to other parts of the country.
So, the definition of craft beer does not seem that complicated to us; high quality
ingredients to produce high quality beer, strengthening local ties and getting as many
people as involved as possible, taking a traditional product but making it relevant to all
types of tastes and drinkers and keeping it relatively small and independent.