What is the definition of a Craft Beer Brewer?


“Craft”.  It’s an interesting word that we regularly use as beer-lovers, but it’s an unregulated word.  Much like “Artisanal”.  I could produce a beer in my garden shed and call it an Artisanal Craft Beer — nobody would argue with that description.   A huge multinational with 100,000+ employees could produce a beer in their oversized garden sheds and call it an Artisanal Craft Beer — nobody can argue with that description.

Can we regulate words and descriptions?  Of course.  The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and it’s protectiveness of “Real Ale” is testament to the power of protecting a beer-style, albeit CAMRA is undergoing a current transformation to see beyond its steely focus of the past 40 years.

Could we, therefore, assign a set of parameters to determine what is a Craft Beer?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  In the USA, for example, where the stakes are high, and profits lost to multinationals can be eye-watering, there is an attempt by the Brewers Association to set the benchmark against which a Craft Brewer is measured.

The Brewers Association uses this benchmark to ensure small, innovative and unique breweries that contribute to local communities and economies remain independent and safe from the threat of the domineering giants.

According to the Brewers Association a brewery is Craft if it:

  • Brews 6-million barrels of beer of less per year, whether it produces beer for itself or under subcontract to another brewer — the so-called “alternating proprietorship” arrangement.
  • Is independent, meaning no more than 25% of its ownership is with a person or group who is not itself a craft brewer.
  • Is not artificial, meaning it produces genuine beer that derives almost all of its flavour from traditional or innovative ingredients and fermentation.

And that is it!  Simple.