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November 18, 2022
Craft beer is, as you may have noticed, something that's seen a meteoric rise in success over recent years. If you're looking in from the outside, then it might be quite hard to understand why that is. Well, in this article, we're going to talk about what makes craft beer the way that it is, and how craft beer is different from more regular, supermarket-style beers.
Consider taking a look at some of the craft beer hampers we've got available - there is a range of options that contain beer sure to bring a little joy and excitement to the world that you're drinking.
Well, this is actually much more simple and easy to understand than you might imagine. The definition of craft beer is any beer that is made in a traditional, non-mechanised way. These beers are typically made by smaller breweries that prefer to brew this way since larger breweries will make large portions of simple beers in one go.
This is functionally similar to the implications of their being a 'craft' or 'artisanal' version of any industry. Classic, simple ingredients are being used in the beer world to make a classic, simple beer that is delicious and new.
For a more concrete definition of craft beer, the Brewers Association defines a craft brewery as being a place that brews no more than six million barrels of beer per year. Beyond that point, the beer production is typically so mechanised that it's functionally the same as any regular beer.
There is also a definition of craft brewing that says that craft breweries must be 75% owned by themselves, a craft brewer. The remaining 25% must be owned or controlled by a 'beverage alcohol industry member' - this simply means someone that is not a brewer but is still within the industry of creating alcohol to drink.
On its own, this definition of craft beer doesn't really mean very much. You could take it to mean that craft brewing simply focuses on small batches of beer rather than large ones.
This is true, but the implications of this production style mean that some fascinating beers are being produced. Since brewers are able to create beers in small batches and sell those beers, they can take more risks, and brew experimental blends of different ingredients.
This means that there is a huge range of different craft beers out there in the world today, from the very trendy IPAs to rare strawberry milkshake stouts.
Well, people have been brewing in their own homes for centuries. In fact, most 'housewife manual' style books from centuries ago would have guidance and recipes on how to make beer for the home. Over time, this has naturally developed into the kind of thing that a hobbyist adores, and independent brewer hobbyists are still common.
The modern craft beer scene really started off when home brewing became modern in the US in the 1970s. This led to many people trying their hand at the ancient craft, and coming up with some pretty interesting results.
Over time, more and more people dove into the craft, trying out their styles and adding their own personal flavours to the mix. There is one man, however, that is commonly defined as a brewer who first broke the mold of home brewing.
Jack McAuliffe served in the US navy. He was deployed around the world in a number of different roles, but it was a fateful trip to Scotland that really sparked his interest in brewing. He was amazed by the local beer and learned how to brew it.
After his deployment in Scotland ended and he returned to the US, he quit his job. After that, he started the first American craft brewery, recreating those sips of Scottish beer that McAuliffe had enjoyed.
That microbrewery was New Albion Brewing Company. It was founded as an independent brewers in 1976 and made some delicious craft beer. The business only stuck around for six years, but during that time a range of different people was inspired by McAuliffe, leading to a range of craft brewers getting started on the craft.
Over time, craft brewers spread out throughout the US, and before long, craft breweries were opening in the UK.
The UK is quite famous for drinking a lot of beer per capita, meaning that craft breweries were a rapid success. Home brewing had been legal for quite a long time in the UK, and having bottles of great beer at home was a tasty way to ensure that you could have easy access to stunning beverages.
This led to an explosion of craft breweries throughout the UK, and in the modern day, there are between fifteen hundred and two thousand small brewers in the UK. This is actually more craft breweries per head than anywhere else in the world!
Now that we've run through some of the best examples of the history of craft beer, let's talk about craft breweries themselves. We've all got our favourite craft brewers, whether in the US or UK, and we're going to share a couple of them now.
Personally, we really like the beers that Northern Monk is releasing. They're a small craft brewery in the UK, specifically in Leeds, in the North of England.
They make and sell a range of different beer styles, though their most popular beer is called Faith, a 5% IPA. This beer was originally created and released during the first UK COVID lockdown, and profits from the beer went toward a charitable donation for the NHS, the UK's public healthcare system.
That particular plan is now over, but the company still donates to the NHS regularly. They also still produce Faith, and it's honestly one of the greatest IPAs that we've ever tasted!
A sweet personal touch about the company is that each of its cans has a small image of the worker that made that batch of beer on the side. It's a small brewery with a family atmosphere, and you really see that when you take in their branding.
When talking about the craft beer movement, it's almost impossible not to mention New England. New England IPAs have been exceptionally popular since the genesis of the moment, and American craft brewers create and release a huge range of them.
Boston is a really interesting hotspot of great brewing since it's one of the first places in the US that made beer, way back during colonial times.
Nowadays, Boston beer has something of a unique culture that's sure to entice people internationally.
Perhaps the most famous Boston craft brewery is harpoon brewery. Their craft beer has been created and sold across the US for a long time, with their beer annually making top spots in the rankings of beer fans.
Their beer hall is something of a landmark among Boston beer lovers since they have a range of their own beers on tap at any time. Interestingly, within the beer hall, they also have a few offerings that are made experimentally by workers at the brewery itself.
This type of micro-experimentation is only possible in a craft brewery, and it's something that we honestly love to see. If these tiny beers are good, they're very often made en masse and shared with the rest of the beer market at large.
An independent brewer is something quite different from large brewers. not only do they make more interesting beers by and large, but also they're able to make some truly fascinating and delicious choices with all of their beers.
This might sound a little odd, but when you consider all of the water that's used for Carling or Carlsberg, for example, the chemicals in that water will make all that beer taste exceptionally similar.
When you drink water from a tap in your hometown, it often does taste different from water from a tap in another city. This has flavour impacts on the beer itself.
When sampling craft beer, it's worth bearing this in mind - the water used for the beer has a large impact on what it tastes like, meaning that beer made in a bigger city is likely to have a more intense mineral flavour since it's hard water, while craft beer made in the countryside is likely to have a softer flavour, since water from more rural areas tends to be less hard, tasting more like rain.
We hope that this article on a few of the ins and outs of craft beer has enabled you to understand a few important things about what makes craft beer distinct from more regular beer that you might pick up at the liquor store.
We don't mean to argue that any one type of beer is better or worse, but rather that they're different, and that makes them worth trying out!
There are some deeply tasty options up for grabs, from IPAs to darker beers, and they're all interesting enough to be sampled.
The benefit of trying them in the format of a hamper, of course, is that you can sample many beers all at once, rather than just sipping at one beer, and leaving it a little while before you sample another craft beer. We've also written an article on what makes a good craft beer.
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