The Difference Between a Craft Beer and a Micro Brew Beer

Beer on outdoor pub table
Beer on outdoor pub table | Source

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 interchanged often because they are so darn confusing. Let us start with the definitions of a micro-brewery and a craft brewery.

A micro-brewery 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 micro-brewery uses to produce their beer. A micro-brewery 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 their 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.

Why Craft Beer?

Let's Summarize

So, a craft brewery is not always a micro-brewery and a micro-brewery is only a craft brewery if it follows craft brewing standards. Craft beer is beer that is brewed in batches with the finest quality ingredients, and is done on a limited basis or may be 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 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 themselves 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.

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Comments 22 comments

Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Thank you for this Hub. My husband has his favorites, so now when I follow him to beer fests as a designated driver, I can under the difference by craft beer and micro beer. I don't drink, but that doesn't mean I'm not open to learning new things about beer. As a non-drinker, I do enjoy a beer fest more than wine tasting. Vote up and all the rest.

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author

Thanks Arlene. I am glad that clarified things for you. I plan on writing a lot more about beer and brewing so, I promise to continue educating you.

Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Looking forward to your writing, cabmgmnt.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

I am a dummy when it comes to beer making and stuff. I love beer but some gives me a headache. I find the stouts or ales don't. Thanks for sharing this very interesting article about micro brew and craft beer.

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author


If you suffer from seasonal allergies, like I do, some beer will give you a headache because of the ingredients used to create the beer. Hops may be causing this. I find that if I drink a hoppy beer like an India Pale Ale, I will get a headache because hops are a flower bud which I am sensitive to. Try a less hoppy beer like a malted amber ale.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

I had no idea of the difference. I generally used the two terms interchangeably. Thanks for the enlightenment. How familiar are you with Oregon Craft and Micro brews? Have you done any hubs on them? I'd be happy to ghost/guest write on your hub and drink some tasty beers at one of our fine Oregon brewery's.

thost profile image

thost 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

I did not know the difference between Craft and Micro beers, and I like beer. This will give me something to talk about the next time I meet friends for a beer. Thank you for the information.

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author

Thanks thost! I just started writing a beer blog, too! I am a promoter for a microbrewery so I encounter a lot of delicious craft beers. Cheers.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have heard these terms but didn't know anything about them. I had some friends where I used to work that were starting something of this sort but I didn't know anything about the technicalities. I'll share with my followers.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

cabmgmnt, Hi nieghbor , We have been micro- ing out of a couple of buckets and ingrediant kits from True Brew since Christmas , its fun ,its great beer and we are now on our third brewing.By the friends commenting here above I know you must know what you're talking about ! A brew blog ----you just got a new fan!....:-}

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author


I actually did not know all of the complexities when I researched for this article and am glad to have a better understanding of the inner workings. Thanks for sharing.

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author


I have not tried homebrewing, yet! I am eager to try it. Any tips?

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

The true brew kit consists of 2 -5 gallon containers one for fermenting , the other for bottling, and the ingredient kits obtained anywhere will yeald about 5 gallons of beer , In general about I/2 the cost of buying a good beer .It takes 2 3 hours of cooking time , &7 days fermenting and about 3-4 weeks to wait ! Its amazing how much better the beer is "fresh". There are a lot of ingredient kits or you can pick your own ingredients The kit ...._$1oo+or-, the ingrediants for five gallons , 25 -35 dollarsand you can really get into more $ if you chosse . Good luck .......hey I'm thirsty!lol. Good luck and have fun.

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author

Sounds like it is worth the wait. I would have to brew it in the bathroom because my apartment is so small. I have to try it one of these days. Thanks for the advice.

Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

I feel smarter thank you! I will share this!

mattdigiulio profile image

mattdigiulio 4 years ago

Yum, I definitely prefer small of the VT micro brews (Magic Hat, Rock Art) Great hub.

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author


lol and Thanks! Always good to learn something new!

cabmgmnt profile image

cabmgmnt 4 years ago from Northfield, MA Author


Magic Hat rocks!

Digihead profile image

Digihead 3 years ago from San Diego, Ca

Don't forget the nano-brewer! A microbrewery is generally recognized as any brewery that makes 15,000 barrels (barrel is 31 US gallons) of beer (465,000 gallons) or fewer annually. A nano-brewery would brew no more than 15 barrels (645 gallons) a year, because by definition nano is 1,000 times smaller than micro. Craft breweries a production size of less than 6,000,000 US beer barrels a year and can not be more than 24% owned by another alcoholic beverage company that is not itself a craft brewery. The macro breweries, or Crap Brewers as I like to call them, like InBev and Coors fall into none of the preceding categories, because they mass produce their fizzy yellow "beer".

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glmorrisbda 22 months ago from Frankfurt, Germany

I always wondered what the difference was, now I know. HubPages Rules!Thanks Corey!

Lee Cloak 19 months ago

Very interesting , very informative hub, thanks, Lee

navneet kumar 5 months ago

techenically i think i understood but what about outlets making their own beers every day and serving by mugs or pitcher are they micro or craft how can we judge if we dont know their annul productions.please advice

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