“With but few exceptions, it is always the underdog who wins through sheer willpower.”
With all this talk about craft beer, it is important to realize what allows it to be considered “craft.” It certainly isn’t sitting around whittling birdhouses, so what makes it so special?
To best grasp what craft beer is, it may be easier to first understand what it is not. Non-craft beers that are brewed in a particular country and circulate throughout are considered “domestics” while those brewed outside and have to be brought in are called “imports.” The imports category can have many different types under its umbrella so, for now, we will focus on domestics.
Domestic breweries tend to be extremely large scale and considerably older than most craft breweries. This is because most of the domestic beer companies that are still around are those few that survived Prohibition. They are also, generally speaking, cheaper than the majority of craft beers. Examples of this are Miller, Coors, and Budweiser.
This all sounds great, so why even bother with craft brews?
Like most things, just because it sounds good on paper, doesn’t always make it true in execution. The first and biggest strike against them is that most only produce American Lagers, which is not an issue if that is the style you like all the time. But, for most people, the same thing gets boring after awhile. After Prohibition was repealed, a few brewers felt the same way and decided to try something different. From there, craft beer was born and, today, hundreds of varieties are available.
While craft breweries tend to stay small, there is a certain appeal to that. The breweries are able to stay more customer-centric and keep a decisive level of quality. It also allows for more creative brewing, creating styles and variations of styles that would be much more difficult on such a large scale as most domestic producers. The number of styles adds to the inclusiveness of the craft beer world, leading to the phrase of “there’s a craft beer for everyone.”
At the end of the day, it boils down to preference. And no judgements here if domestics are your jam. Be proud of the beer you like. However, personally, I see it as the difference between Wal-Mart and the local mom and pop shops. I know that one is cheaper and more convenient, but the other is going to be run with passion and personal motivation.
And I personally choose passion.