Craft Beer 101 – An Introduction to Micro Brewed Local Beer

Craft beers by definition are beers that are traditionally hand-made or crafted. It’s important to keep this in mind because the typical can of beer that you get from your corner neighborhood liquor store is manufactured in a completely different way.

If you’ve ever driven by a brewery, you know exactly what I’m talking about. These facilities are huge industrial, sprawling, multi-building outfits. We are talking about several hundred meters or thousands of feet. They are industrial giants. You can’t miss them because they take up several blocks.

Once they start brewing beer, you definitely cannot ignore them because you can smell the scent of hops not just immediately close to the plant or facilities but sometimes a few miles away. I used to live in an area that had a brewery and it was a mixed blessing because you can smell the awesome scent of hops.

But sometimes you don’t want to be bothered by that odor but you’re stuck with it. That’s how it goes when you live next to a brewery. But this is exactly the kind of place where most of the commercially-available beers sold in the United States are made.

Craft beer is strictly small scale and manual. This means that the person making your beer has a lot more opportunities to pay close attention to important details in the brewing process that can give them the chance to produce superior beer.

You have to understand that whenever any kind of product is produced on a mass and industrial scale, quality tends to go down. This is not a knock on mass-produced products but just a description of the truth. There is such a thing as a minimum allowable quality and that is what mass manufacturers and mass brewers go for.

Anything else, they’d lose money. That’s the bottom line and the great news about craft beers is that they are produced in such a small volume and done by hand that there is a tremendous amount of leeway for distinct flavors as well as different body types and other quality alteration that really go a long way in producing a much more satisfying product.

Of course, for the most part, this comes with a higher price tag because the stuff is not manufactured on a mass scale. Most people who appreciate well-made beers are in it for the experience and are willing to pay a few extra bucks for much-improved quality.

That’s the bottom line. Interestingly enough, craft beer is usually tightly defined. This type of beer is made by a brewery that only produces in limited quantities. What is the definition of “limited”? We are talking about six million barrels or less.

Independent craft beer brewers should own and control more than 75% of the brewery. This is another key defining point. You can’t say a brewery is independently-owned if it’s 99% owned by a big-name label. That doesn’t work.

Also, they have to have TTB Brewer’s Notice. Craft beer makers brew their beers the traditional way. This is another point of distinction. There is no machine production, no large scale production. Everything has to be done in small batches by hand.

Craft beer is special because you get a more unique taste. It’s more flexible because there are many different styles. Some craft beer breweries would make one style or recipe of beer one day and then they would switch to another.

This is what’s so awesome about beer making at such a low level. There are a lot more opportunities for innovation as well as for reflecting local taste and beer-making tradition. A lot of these of course turn on how they improvise as well as improve on the use of traditional beer ingredients like barley, wheat, hops, and other ingredients. They also have a lot more say on the kind of water used in the process.

Why Do Some People Prefer to Drink Craft Beer Than Regular Beer?

Just as you would prefer, sometimes, to eat high-grade steak or Wagyu instead of a dried-out, mass-produced cheap burger, a lot of beer drinkers would from time to time drink craft beer. It gives them a nice break from the usual.

Others have made the permanent switch. They can’t touch the mass-produced stuff. They prefer to drink craft beer. Whatever your situation is, it boils down to quality preference. Some are okay with the minimum allowed quality of mass-produced beers. Others are more discriminating and are willing to pay a little bit extra.

Some people who prefer craft beers are traditionalists. They are looking to buy beer that is made traditionally but not necessarily using traditional ingredients. And this is where a lot of innovation and flavor distinctions come from.

At the end of the day, craft beer aficionados look for a unique-tasting beer. But as they say not all craft beers are good. Just because a beer is produced by hand in small batches does not automatically qualify it as a good beer.

You still have to use your taste buds and common sense. Craft beer drinkers also drink craft beers to support small business owners like the independent craft brewers. Along with its generally superior taste, craft beers offer higher alcohol by volume content.

Typically, a beer from your local grocery store comes in at 5% by volume. Some craft beers, believe it or not, go as high as 40%. So if you’re looking for a beer that has a bit of a kick, your best bet is a case of craft beers.

According to some studies, drinking craft beer in moderation can also contribute to good health because of its nutritional value. Some studies suggest that a moderate level of beer can lower the risk of diabetes and some cardiovascular diseases.

There are also findings that beer drinkers tend to enjoy a lower risk of joint problems. This leads to increased bone density and increased HDL levels.

You Get to Support Local Businesses

When you buy industrial beer, most of the time you are supporting the factory workers and support staff behind that beer. These workers may live thousands of miles away from you. That’s the bottom line.

On the other hand, if you cross the street to patronize your local craft beer brewery which usually brews the beer right at a bar, you support the people you see face to face. These are your neighbors, people who live in the same block or same city district as you.

It feels good to support local businesses because you feel plugged into the local economic ecosystem. You don’t get that impression when you buy a bottle of beer from one of the big-name brands. They may be located on the other side of the United States.

It is unsurprising then that popular local brewers have loyal customers. And the more famed the local brewer is, the higher the assurance that the beer is very good. Keep in mind also that when you hop from one local brewery to another, you’re in for some unique local color because a lot of them have interesting stories behind them.

So if you want to support local beer artisans in your community, there are no two ways about it. Get yourself a case of craft beer.