Craft Beer 101

What is Craft Beer?  Craft beer is beer produced by small, independent brewers using traditional brewing methods.  Traditional beers are typically made entirely or mostly from malt, and not diluted with adjuncts like corn or rice.  Craft beer is a premium product with distinct and unique flavor profiles.  It is these flavor profiles which distinguish it from the mass-market beers like Carlsberg and Budweiser.  Indeed, sales of mass-market beers in the U.S. and Europe are already falling as consumers start buying craft beers instead.


What makes American Craft Beer special?  American craft brewers use the brewing tradition of the world as inspiration.  Some aim for authenticity, while others have adopted a much more free-spirited approach.  American brewers add a variety of fruit, spices, and hops to create interesting, flavorful beers.  The U.S. has the liveliest beer culture in the world today, with more breweries, beers, and beer enthusiasts than anywhere else.  American craft beers repeatedly excel in worldwide beer competitions, and brewers from Europe and beyond are coming to the U.S. to study American brewing techniques.


What's in my beer?  The main ingredients in a craft beer are typically water, grain, hops, yeast.  Specialty beers may also include a variety of other ingredients such as fruit, spices, exotic sugars, honey or chiles.  In contrast, mainstream lagers get their light body from corn or rice, which contribute little flavor.


What is the best way to taste a beer?  Always pour beer into a glass first to release the aromas.  First, smell the beer and try to describe the specific aromas of the malt, hops, and yeast.  Next, check the color and clarity of the beer.  Finally, taste the beer.  Note the carbonation as well as the sweetness or bitterness.  Note the mouthfeel and the aftertaste.


Want to know more?  Attend one of our beer events!  


The following websites are also great resources for learning about American craft beer: