The term “craft beer” is being used widely lately.
But what is craft beer exactly? In South Africa the definition is loosely based on the guidelines provided by the Brewers Association Instead of the 6 million barrels number a volume of 6 million liters was used.
This is all good, but there is a further clarification that also needs to be factored in.
Craft beer is broken down into different segments. Some may argue that it is a matter of splitting hairs, but I think it is important that consumers know where the beer comes from.
The craft beer industry is defined by four distinct markets: brewpubs, microbreweries, regional craft breweries, and contract brewing companies.
According to the US definitions the breakdown is as follows:
A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site. Microbreweries sell to the public by one or more of the following methods: the traditional three-tier system (brewer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer); the two-tier system (brewer acting as wholesaler to retailer to consumer); and, directly to the consumer through carryouts and/or on-site tap-room or restaurant sales.
A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar. The beer is often dispensed directly from the brewery’s storage tanks. Where allowed by law, brewpubs often sell beer “to go” and /or distribute to off site accounts. Note: BA re-categorizes a company as a microbrewery if its off-site (distributed) beer sales exceed 75%.
Contract Brewing Company:
A business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. It can also be a brewery that hires another brewery to produce additional beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales, and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging to its producer-brewery (which, confusingly, is also sometimes referred to as a contract brewery).
For more opinions on contract brewing read the following by Greg Koch from Stone Brewing Co.
Interview with Greg Koch
The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.
A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels.
Regional Craft Brewery:
An independent regional brewery who has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of it’s volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
A brewery with an annual beer production over 6,000,000 barrels.
(1 US Beer Barrel equates to 119 liters of beer.)