Ever heard of a “microbrewery”? What about “craft beer”? According to the Brewers Association, there’s a difference in definition- that being said, they’re both great options if you’re trying to make your beer purchase a little “greener”.
A microbrewery is one that “produces less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year“. Pubs or restaurants that sell the beer they make on-site are called “brewpubs”.
A craft brewer, on the other hand, has an “annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less“. A craft brewer must be small, independent, and traditional* : “Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer…a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers”.
That’s great… so what’s the significance?
Well, choosing craft or microbrewery beer is a great
way to support your community and cut down on carbon emissions from beer importation/transportation. Locavores, unite! Chances are, you live within 10 miles of a craft brewer. On top of that, microbreweries sell 75% or more of their beer off-site. Check out the beer aisle at your grocery store and I’ll bet you find at least two local microbrewery labels- or, if you’re feeling adventurous, look up the location of your nearest microbrewery for a night out with friends! Living in New England like I am? Check out this list from Boston Magazine: The Ultimate Guide to Craft Beer in New England.
Another reason to choose small-brand beer names is because their companies tend to have a more personal relationship with the product, consumers, and community. Craft brewers are known to put a special emphasis on beer quality over profit. Moreover, they often work on philanthropic events with their community and deal directly with the customer. Take Dogfish Head’s Beer & Benevolence program as an example “to foster community, nourish artistic advancement and cultivate environmental stewardship”!
Finally, we can’t forget that food and drink production ultimately comes back to the farmers. Microbreweries and craft beer-makers are conscientious that the “locavore movement” is continuing to rise in popularity. As a result, they often buy wheat and hops from local farmers to make their beer.
So…good craftsmanship, quality flavor, social responsibility, and freshly-brewed beer just bubbling around the corner… doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. Have any great craft beers, brewpubs, or microbreweries in mind? Let us know by commenting (click above)!
If you like this article and want to learn more, make sure to take a look at go green cuisine’s post on Fair Trade-Certified Wine!
*There has actually been quite a dispute over what “craft beer” really means. Labels such as Shock Top and Blue Moon claim the name but don’t conform to the Brewers Association’s definition. Not everyone in the beer world, however, believes that the Brewers Association even should be responsible for distinguishing between corporate and craft beer. In an interview with Time magazine, Jim Galligan of Beer and Whiskey Bros said that although he mainly agreed with the Brewers Associates’ definition, it does not mean everything: “I also think a lot depends on if a brewer’s heart is in the right place“.