At the peak of the Great Depression, beer was at its lowest popularity. People were drinking less, and those who were drinking were choosing strong lagers instead of weaker beers like pilsners or ales.
In addition, to the grim market, breweries also had to deal with a two-licensing system that forced them to sell their beer as a wholesaler or retailer. It seemed like there was nowhere for the industry to go from here until microbreweries began emerging in 1990s America.
In 2014, craft beer production grew by almost 20% nationally, making it one of the fastest-growing segments in the beer industry. By 2020, it’ll become one of the largest segments in the industry. So what are these ‘craft beer’ people so excited about? And why has it become so popular? Let’s take a closer look breweries near me.
What is Craft Beer?
Craft beer is a type of beer that uses traditional brewing ingredients, such as malted barley, brewed with various hops. They’re also typically made in smaller batches and contain a high percentage of fermentable sugars. This adds to a unique flavor you can’t find anywhere else.
The term “microbrewery” was first used in the 1970s to describe a brewery smaller than a “microbrewery”. A microbrewery produces more than 2 million barrels of beer annually, whereas a microbrewery produces less than 15,000 barrels annually. The Brewers Association (BA) defines a craft brewery as “small, independent, and traditional.”
To be classified as a “craft brewery”, breweries must meet two out of three criteria: Be small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less), Be independently owned (no more than 25% owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry giant), and Make beer using the “traditional” ingredients of water, barley, and hops. Therefore, craft beer can be made with any combination of these ingredients, as long as they’re present.
Why has Craft Beer Become so Popular?
The craft beer market has grown significantly over the past few years, thanks to a variety of factors. Many beer drinkers have begun to see the appeal of stronger, more flavorful beverages, while others are seeking out more nutritious options. Whatever the driving factor, the demand for craft beer is higher than ever.
Let’s look at some of the key factors fueling this rise.
– Consumers Want More Variety: Consumers are no longer content with drinking the same types of beer. They want to explore the beer world, taste new flavors, and find new favorites. Craft breweries offer a much wider variety than microbreweries, allowing customers to try something new whenever they want.
– Consumers Want More Healthful Choices: Although beer isn’t as nutritious as other beverages (like water, for example), it does contain trace amounts of B vitamins, fiber, and minerals such as manganese, copper, and silicon. Some craft breweries have begun producing high-protein, low-sugar, high-fiber, gluten-free, and even organic beers. These types of beers have become increasingly popular as consumers have become more health conscious.
– Consumers Want to Support Smaller Businesses: Many beer drinkers are becoming more aware of the dangers of monopolization within the beer industry. They’ve become aware that the world’s four biggest beer companies (Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, and Molson Coors) control 80% of the market. As a result, they’re starting to turn towards smaller craft breweries.
– Consumers Want to Support Independent Brands: Another reason consumers choose craft beer is that they want to support independent brands. Many craft breweries are independently owned, meaning they’re not owned by one of the world’s four biggest beer companies. As a result, they have more creative control over the products they make and can make decisions based on the desires of their customers.
The Rise of Smaller Breweries
If you’ve ever been to a craft brewery, you’ll notice that the experience is completely different from what you’ll find at a microbrewery. Microbreweries are designed for mass production, whereas craft breweries are designed for a more intimate experience. Customers are allowed to see the entire brewing process from beginning to end.
Craft breweries also tend to have a more relaxed environment, welcoming customers, including families, children, and pets. It’s not uncommon to find live music, food trucks, or games at these breweries.
– Craft Breweries are More Creative: Craft breweries are also more creative in their marketing efforts, devoting significant time and money towards viral marketing campaigns and unique branding. Many also have special events, hosting beer festivals and pairing beer tastings with food. Microbreweries are still playing catch-up in this regard. They’re just starting to realize these things’ importance, even though smaller breweries have been doing them for years.
– Craft Beer is Easy to Find: Finally, one of the biggest advantages of craft beer is that it’s easy to find. While microbreweries tend to dominate the beer market in some regions, craft breweries have successfully expanded across the country, making their product much easier to access.
– The Appeal of Different Flavors: Craft breweries use different ingredients than microbreweries, giving their beer a unique flavor you can’t find anywhere else. The most common ingredients used in craft beer are barley, hops, water, yeast, and other additives.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in some of the most popular craft beer varieties.
– Barley: Barley is the main ingredient used in most beer. It imparts a sweet flavor, as well as a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Different varieties of barley are used to make different types of beer.
– Hops: Hops are what give beer its bitter flavor, as well as its ability to be preserved. Even though hops are used in almost every type of beer, their flavor and aroma vary depending on the variety used.
– Water: Water can make up 90% of beer, so it’s an extremely important part of the brewing process. Some brands prefer to use locally sourced water, while others use water from a specific region.
– Yeast: Yeast is what gives beer its alcohol content, as well as its carbonation. Many craft breweries use higher quality ingredients than microbreweries to make their beer uniquely flavored and tastier.
The Appeal of Independent Brands
Craft breweries aren’t owned by the same four beer companies that own most of the microbreweries. Instead, they’re independently owned, giving customers a choice to support smaller brands rather than one of the world’s largest conglomerates.
When most people think of a craft brewery, they think of dark, crowded pubs with high prices. However, there are dozens of small breweries owned by individuals and local bars across the country. These breweries are generally small operations producing a single beer or two.
While these breweries can’t compete with the size and scale of larger companies, they can offer an intimate experience for patrons looking for something a little more personal than everyday brands. Picking up a six-pack from your local craft brewery will likely be less expensive than ordering one at your grocery store.
Craft beers also tend to be more creative and interesting than popular national brands, so you’re likely to find something new and refreshing every time you visit.
A microbrewery is a business; like all businesses, it comes with its challenges and opportunities. Therefore, you must understand what goes into starting a microbrewery and what it will take to succeed.
From branding and product development to distribution and financing, there are a lot of factors to consider when starting a microbrewery. However, if you’re up for the challenge, you might find that the benefits of owning your microbrewery might outweigh the costs.
With that in mind, you might be wondering how you go about starting a microbrewery. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about the ins and outs of microbreweries. From the equipment necessary to the financing schemes and the various flavors of beer you can create, we’ve got you covered. So ready for everything you need to know about starting your microbrewery.