What qualifies as Craft Beer?
What is Craft Beer?
Craft Beer is a phrase that has taken off and has helped the Real Ale Market so drastically that other drink markets have followed suit, such as Larger, Gin and other spirits. To state your Beer as Craft Beer there are no law requirements to restrict what is a Craft Beer.
The definition of Craft Beer in the Oxford dictionary is consistent to the general perception of a Craft Beer which is “a beer made in a traditional way by a small brewery”. Within the UK the largest Pub company and Brewery Greene King created a whole new brewery called Belhaven Brewery within there Westgate Brewery in Bury St Edmunds, just so they can produce Craft Brewery and please their customer’s definition of Craft Beer.
Because there are no Law requirements to categories your beer as Craft there are loads of different interpretations such as: -
BrewDogs interpretation found on their website is that the brewery should produce less than 500,000 hectolitres which is 1.22 million firkins or 87.98 million imperial pints. Another criteria is that they only use traditional methods and ingredients which are stated on the label of the beer, also full traceability with the location of where the beer was brewed. Finally BrewDog also believes that the brewery should be a registered as an independent, which means that the brewery isn’t 20% or more owned by a brewing company or a business that runs another craft brewery.
Craft Beer massive upsurge in sales over the last 10 years is now starting to have a damaging affect on the sales in 2017. The Guardian in the UK wrote an article on the 3rd October 2016 stating that the number of Craft Breweries has risen to 1,700 which means the competition is fierce. As a result a lot of breweries are struggling to survive.
This makes it even more rewarding if the brewery is successful, the popularity of Cask Ale is increasing world wide. However Craft Beer in the US beer market is only 12.3% of the overall beer trade in America which shows there is a long way to go. Information is from brewersassociation.org. According to the craftbeer.com website craft beer in America double its market percentage in 4 years. In 2011 it had 5.7% of the whole market percentage where in 2015 it had a 12.2% of the market. However on a more negative note from 2015 to 2016 it only grew another 0.1% which is still growth but a lot more flat lined than previous years.
In recent years the world largest breweries such as AB InBev and Molson Coors have been buying smaller craft brewers in the US and Europe. Molson Coors purchased Sharp’s Brewery back in 2012 which helped push DoomBar the beer so much further to try and make it the most company beer in the United Kingdom. There are many different examples of where a international brewery purchases a smaller craft brewery to gain different market shares and to be able to use their cash injection to push the brewery to new heights. Another example of this is Caledonian Brewery which was purchased by Heineken, Caledonian Brewery has a strong Edinburgh heritage which goes back over 150 years. Even though the brewery has been purchased by Heineken it still operates as a serrate business and it is doing this successfully.
So What is Craft Beer, there is no distinct characteristics that define this but only people opinions. My personal opinion is that it should be a small brewery that is an independent and they pride themselves on the quality of the ingredients they use. However we have to acknowledge the larger breweries because without them being able to use the Craft Beer slogan we could of lost countless smaller brewers that have now been given the opportunity to thrive.