As the craft beer movement grows in popularity, there are still a few people wondering what all the hop is about. Can any beer be craft, or is there an art to this designation? And why is drinking craft beer so good?
In order for a beer to be craft, it must follow three main criteria: small, independent, and traditional. A small beer production is considered less than 6 million barrels a year. To be independent, is to have less than 25% of alcohol content derived from a larger company that is not itself a craft brewer. Lastly, for the sake of tradition, a craft beer must have at least 50% of it’s volume from an all-malt beer—this is mostly in pursuit of protecting flavor and having top quality ingredients. The foundation of flavor that all good, craft beers harvest include malt, yeast, hops, water, and carbonation. However, most craft beers delve into unique flavor combinations, which often incorporate various fruits, chocolate, plants, and vegetables. But with over a 100 craft beer styles, it is not only the ingredients that set this type of beer apart from it’s massed produced counterparts. Other notable aspects include SRM, which denotes a craft beers color, ranging from pale to black, and IBU, short for International Bitterness Unit, measures the bitterness of the beverage from 0-100. Craft beers are also higher in alcohol content than most mass-produced beers, with the average ABV being 5.9%. But ask any craft brewer what sets his/her beer apart from a large brewery, and s/he will probably not make mention of the SRM created, or level of bitterness.
Craft beer has the top hops because of the unique spin individual brewers are able to put into their breweries. While you will never be able to meet Samuel Adams, it’s not difficult to meet the person behind an innovative craft beer. It is as if you are walking into a beer museum, and tasting a new masterpiece every time—while the beer styles may be different, the signature remains the same, and the artist is local (and often, the coolest person you’ve ever met). Drinking craft beer supports local artisans, and means you will never have the same beer twice. With over 1,600 craft breweries in the U.S, the opportunity to indulge in a brewer’s work is plentiful, and growing. Craft brewers care about their customers, and take personal pleasure in community support. Not only does drinking craft beer support local business, but it is also healthy. Beer? Healthy? Absolutely. Ranging from antioxidants and B vitamins to a significant source of silicon, which is known as a protective agent against osteoporosis, your brains and bones are begging for a tall glass of craft.
Whether you prefer your medicine be a light lager with subtle, citrus undertones, or a decadent porter with coffee aromatics, let craft beer cure the alement. Because when it comes to craft beer, it’s not just a drink—it’s an experience.