Craft vs. Micro Brews: Aren't They the Same?
There are commonalities when talking about craft beer and micro-brewed beers, but there are also great differences. The two terms are often interchanged because they are so darn confusing. Let us start with the definitions of a micro-brewery and a craft brewery.
A microbrewery is classified by the number of beer barrels it produces in a year, which is a limit of 15,000 beer barrels a year or 460,000 US gallons, and at least 75 percent of that beer must be sold outside of the brewery. There are no strict guidelines set on the techniques or ingredients a microbrewery uses to produce its beer. A microbrewery is classified as such according to the amount of beer it produces annually.
A craft brewery brews no more than 2 million gallons of beer per year and is owned independently. Unlike a micro-brewery, a craft brewery has set limitations on the techniques of its beer production. A craft brewery's beer must contain at least 50 percent traditional malt rather than adjuncts such as oats, barley, and wheat, and there lies one distinction. These ingredients add flavor to the beer. Most craft beers are of a European style, like ales, stouts, and porters. One of the most well-known craft brewers is the maker of Samuel Adams, The Boston Brewing Company.
The fad of calling low-production breweries craft breweries instead of micro-breweries is just a common error. The terms are used erroneously. The terms that should stand are micro-brewery and macro-brewery to differentiate a brewery based on production amount. Craft beer is a product, and a good one at that, not a measure of size. This misconception also happens because some beer drinkers automatically assume that a micro-brewery uses craft ingredients and this, as we have just shown, is not always true.
Brewing Standards Make the Difference
So, a craft brewery is not always a microbrewery, and a microbrewery is only a craft brewery if it follows craft brewing standards. Craft beer is a beer that is brewed in batches with the finest quality ingredients and is done on a limited basis or maybe a seasonal brew. Many craft breweries take pride in not only the ingredients used to make their beer but also in the equipment used to produce it. Allagash Beer in Portland, Maine, had used bourbon-soaked wood barrels for the production of a Tripel. After some trial and error, they produced some nice results.
If you see the trend now, a lot of people are drinking local and choosing craft beers. The breweries are farming out their ingredients locally. Local ingredients can add to the quality and distinction of a beer.
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Great Lakes Brewing Company operates on this philosophy. They strive to use environmental practices that achieve a sustainable and profitable business. Great Lakes Brewing Company celebrates all things local when possible. The brewery currently manages two organic farms and has qualified itself as a craft brewer of distinction.
Now that the differences between a micro-brewed beer and a craft beer have been defined, you are now allowed to kick back and enjoy a favorite beer of your choice.