Craft beer is quickly becoming the toast of the alcoholic drinks scene with everyone from seasoned beer aficionados to those of us who might have originally preferred wine getting involved. So what is craft beer?
Originating in the UK in the 1970s, craft brewing has recently seen its following grow and grow as more people get involved with the craft beer movement than ever before. A chemical-free, hand-crafted alcoholic beverage that uses natural ingredients, craft beer’s popularity could be attributed to a move away from preservatives and mainstream brands in favour of more artisan products that are brewed in smaller batches..
So what differentiates this from ordinary beers? For a start the term ‘craft’ often represents the attitude towards brewing, not just the finished product. These beers are often seen as experimental in nature and are often brewed within a broader range of ABV (alcohol content) than conventional beers. For example, the world’s weakest craft beer weighs in a 1.1% ABV while the strongest is 55% ABV; a much more experimental range than the standard 4% mild associated with conventional brewing practices.
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Craft brewing also encompasses the use of weird and wonderful ingredients which aren’t often found in mainstream beer production. For example, some craft breweries choose to flavour their beers not with an additive or chemical flavouring but with raw, natural ingredients that range from seaweed, to raspberries, pineapple to chocolate. Drinkers of craft beer report that the use of real ingredients is one of the biggest draws and makes the beer much more palatable in comparison to brews that use artificial flavourings.
Putting the actual brewing process to one side, craft beer can also be differentiated from conventional brewing by its approach to marketing. Smaller budgets and little advertising spend means the majority of craft breweries pose a small sphere of influence. With a market share of 2% in the UK, things may seem to favour large commercial breweries but with the rise and rise of social media and a growing community of online beer fanatics, craft breweries can extend their reach much more easily than before.