For the last decade, everyone has been hearing all about “craft beer.” But what exactly is craft beer? And what makes it different than, well, just beer?
- The Ingredients
The most important distinction between mass-marketed beer and craft beer is the ingredients and, consequently, the flavor. While mass-marketed beer tends to taste uniform and (somewhat) watery, craft beer has many different flavors. Mass-marketed beer’s typically bland taste is a result of inexpensive ingredients, a desire for uniform taste, and an eye on the bottom line (keeping costs as low as possible.) Craft beer, on the other hand, is different and can include exotic ingredients such as coffee, a verity of fruits, caramel, hazelnut, molasses and citric fruits such as lemon or oranges – among many other (almost limitless) ingredients. This creates beer of varying colors and shades, whereas most mass-marketed beer is a watery-brown or yellow, craft beer can be a darker shade of black or even have a lighter, more reddish-tint depending on which ingredients were used. These ingredients are also influenced by the temperature that the beverage is consumed at. While most mass-marketed beer is best served cold, that is not always the case with craft beer. Craft beer can be served at varying temperatures depending on the ingredients (and the type of beer) – anywhere from ice-cold to room temperature.
- The Source
While most beer that you traditionally find in a grocery store (think Bud Light or Miller) is mass-produced. Craft beer, on the other hand, is usually from small, traceable, independent breweries. In addition, these brewers are often from the immediate local areas – though, some larger craft brewers are beginning to branch out into larger regions and even some national distributions. Because these are traditionally smaller breweries, craft beer is usually not mass-marketed on television or print, instead their marketing relies on word-of-mouth in the local community.