The Beer Buzz: Why should you spring for a craft beer? Here’s why
Ali Farhat , Editor | Aug 2, 2017
Topic category: Microbreweries
FROM:Beerin' It
Beerin' It

Great article on explaining every factor differentiating craft breweries from macro lagers. ––Ali Farhat, Editor, BI

Craft breweries originally started with products that were so far removed from what the general public thought of as beer that there was no doubt about whether you were buying big or small.

Over time, breweries’ product ranges have broadened. Many craft brewers even have an “American lager” as part of their lineup. So the question becomes, what is the difference between these products and the beers produced by much larger corporations? Why should consumers care enough to grab one of these instead of saving a few bucks?

Let’s start with the obvious: ingredients. The bottom line is that craft brewers are using a broader range of ingredients in their beers, and because of this there are bound to be more diverse flavors.

The macro lagers we all know generally contain barley and a good dose of corn and-or rice (known as adjuncts). In these cases, adjuncts are mainly used because they lighten the body and flavor of the beer, and it costs less than solely using barley. Comparatively, craft brewers use all these ingredients and more (oats, rye, etc.) as a means of enhancement rather than reduction, even when it comes to their lighter fare.

Quality is another important aspect of ingredients. I’m not saying larger brewers are using bad ingredients, but craft brewers have more flexibility and incentive to find the best — rather than merely the adequate — in terms of quality.

A relatively new facet to this is craft maltsters. These are local businesses devoted to the art of making the best malt possible. Usually this process entails hyperlocal sources of heirloom-variety grains. Sensory tests have shown that there is a noticeable difference in flavor between these “craft malts” and the standard, widely available malts.

As for hops, there is absolutely no doubt that craft brewers have pushed far beyond what were once considered conventional hopping techniques. They are almost entirely responsible for the surge in hop breeding, with the goal of coaxing out ever-expanding arrays of flavors. The craft brewing industry has spawned entities such as the Hop Quality Group, whose purpose is to promote a high-level commitment to quality within the hop sector.

For those who are content with the flavor of macro lagers (and that is an entirely reasonable place to be), there are other factors worth considering. A larger positive economic impact is part and parcel to the craft ethos. Large breweries have mastered efficiency, and though that is a great achievement from a scientific and technological perspective, it does have ramifications. This apex of efficiency means that producing vast quantities of beer requires only a minimal workforce.

A craft brewery’s environment is much different, and the production of even small batches of beer requires a relatively large amount of manual labor. All this work means more jobs, and when you multiply that over the 5,000-plus craft brewers in the United States, it’s a large workforce. According to the Brewer’s Association, in 2014, the craft brewing industry was providing 424,00 U.S. jobs.

All consumers have the right to drink any beer they deem worthy. That being said, craft beer has several benefits. There is a broader choice of flavor and a higher level of quality available — even within the subcategory of craft American lagers. Beyond this, there are positive economic impacts on both national and local levels.

Brewers, farmers, suppliers, distributors and many others involved in the brewing industry are all around us. To them, I raise a glass and say thank you.


• Wesley Cutlip is a certified cicerone and graduate of Central Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in craft brewing. He owns Cutlip Beverage Consulting.

Wesley Cutlip |Jul 19, 2017
Tags: Craft Beer, Macro Lagers, Craft Breweries, Beer Lovers
comments powered by Disqus