In order to be classified as a “craft beer,” The Brewer’s Association requires the brewery making it to be small, independent, and traditional. That means that while some breweries owned by companies like Anheuser-Busch might call themselves “craft” they aren’t. If you don’t pay close attention, it can be hard to tell the “big” beer from the small guys when you’re at the grocery store. Now there’s an app for that.
In order to be “small” a brewery needs to make 6 million barrels of beer or less (one barrel is equal to 31 gallons). “Independent” means that less than 25% of the brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol member that is not a craft brewer, and “traditional” means that beers are made using traditional brewing ingredients and fermentation (malt beverages like Smirnoff Ice don’t count).
While you can probably tell that things like Bud Light, Corona, and Heineken aren’t craft, neither are beers made by 10 Barrel, Goose Island, Breckenridge, Elysian, or Golden Road. All those breweries are owned by Anheuser-Busch and are are of its “High End” portfolio. And there are dozens more that are owned by larger breweries or holding firms.
To help out, the Craft Brewers Association has started adding this label to craft beers in the store to help them stand out against the larger brands, but the logo isn’t on everything.
If you want to buy craft and you’re not sure what you’re looking at, the app Craft Check can help. With it, you just type in the name of a brewery or scan a package, and then the app will let you know whether what you’re looking at is craft or not.
It can be great if you’re at a bar or store and come across something new, and want to make sure you know where your dollars are going before you buy.