I was thinking about beer tonight, and thinking about what beer is, beyond the standard dictionary definition, which usually reads something like this:
an alcoholic beverage usually made from malted cereal grain (as barley), flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation
Thanks, Free Merriam-Webster dictionary! That’s a good generic definition of beer.
But then I started thinking, what’s the difference between beer and craft beer? Oh, I know, usually craft breweries are usually defined as small, traditional, independent breweries, but I thought a better way to define craft beer is to examine the differences between beer and craft beer. If you have more contrasts to offer, please leave them in the comments section. I’d love to hear them! I hope you enjoy…
Beer is made by large corporations named Anheuser-Busch, InBev and South African Breweries (SAB). Craft beer is brewed by people, like Sam Calagione, Linus Hall, Douglas Booth and Daniel Kahn, craftsmen who now run successful breweries because they loved beer and wanted to share it with others.
Beer tastes like….well, beer. Craft beer tastes, at various times, like chocolate, coffee, oak, caramel, molasses, grass, floral hops, dark fruit, smoke, grapefruit, oranges, lemon, coriander, pumpkin, hazelnut, and any number of other ingredients.
Beer is usually served ice cold from the can or bottle (to numb the tastebuds and make it palatable) and in massive quantities, in the hopes of getting drunk. Craft beer is lovingly poured into a special glass, at just the right temperature, and given the chance to warm and release its flavors as the color and thickness of the head, the color and clarity and the nose of the beer are all examined, analyzed and appreciated, before the beer itself is savored on the palate and the various flavors are allowed to arise and intermingle.
Beer is marketed, on television and in print, by making you think you’ll be cool or get the girl with their product. Craft beer is marketed, mostly not on television, on its merits as a beer, with emphasis on flavor and the ingredients that went into making the product.
Beer is usually yellow or brown. Craft beer can be anything from a hazy golden straw color to a coppery orange to a ruby brown to an inky black and everything in between.
Beer is made with cheap ingredients and adjuncts such as rice, to make the beer more bland and inexpensive, with the end result being a beer that makes you feel bloated and full. Craft beer is brewed using hand selected ingredients, specifically picked with certain flavor characteristics in mind and brewed with the end goal of flavorful, quality beer. It is more expensive but a much better value for the money.
Beer is sometimes “shotgunned” or used for a keg stand. Craft beer is sometimes selected and served as an integral accompaniment to a fine meal.
As you can see, I have an obvious bias towards craft beer. I hope the contrasts I have pointed out help you understand what craft beer is, and I hope it inspires you to leave Bud, Coors and Miller behind in favor of better beer, such as Dogfish Head, Yazoo, Buckbean and so much more.
The Beer Snob