Craft Beer 101
We hear a lot about the craft breweries in Virginia, and how they seem to be popping up all over the place. So what’s the difference between craft beer and other beer? What makes it special?
According to the Brewer’s Association, a craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional. By this definition, small means that the brewery produces 6 million barrels of beer or less each year. Independent means that less than 25% of the brewery is owned or controlled by someone who is not a craft brewer themselves. Traditional means that the majority of the total beverage alcohol volume (BAV) in beers comes from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients during fermentation.
On the less technical side, one of the most common associations with craft beer is innovation. Craft brewers take historical styles and traditional ingredients and add their own personal twists to develop innovative and unique beer. Craft breweries are typically small, local businesses, which is a big draw for a large segment of beer-lovers. You will also find that craft breweries are owned and operated by people who know the area, making them the perfect guides for where to eat and what other attractions to visit.
A lot of people wonder if craft beer is really better than widely distributed beer. It is a widely shared opinion among beer drinkers that craft beer does taste better than other beer (Coors, Budweiser, Miller, etc.). While this is opinion-based answer, there are other characteristics that make craft beer better:
- It is healthier: Research is showing that including beer in a healthy diet can actually improve your overall well-being. Of course the health benefits come from appreciating craft beer in moderation, and over appreciation can have negative consequences on your health.
- There are more choices: Rather than choosing between a light beer or a heavy beer, you can choose from a variety of options including an IPA, a wheat beer, and a Hefeweizen.
- Meet the brewers: With craft beer, you can meet the people who make the beer that you drink. This makes the beer much more personal.
- Seasonal beer: Some widely distributed breweries have gotten into the spirit of the seasons by making pumpkin beer and summer ales. Because of the size of the batches however, craft breweries really capture the limited time feeling that we associate with seasonal items.
Discover craft breweries in the area and decide for yourself whether or not craft beer is better.