An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.
The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer so the organization can provide statistics on a growing beer industry segment consisting of the majority of the breweries in the U.S.
An American Craft Brewer is:
- Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less.
- Independent: Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
- Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
- Regional Craft Breweries
- Alternating Proprietorships
As craft brewers have come of age, little did the world know that their fuller-flavored beers would generate such passion and excitement. Today is a great time to be a beer lover, and as a nation, the U.S. now has more beer styles and brands to choose from than any other market in the world. This was not always the case if you look at the History of Beer in the U.S. prior to 1980.
Over 2,347 breweries are responsible for the beer brands made in the US with 97% of these fitting the small and independent craft brewer definition (learn more: Brewers Association: Number of Breweries). These craft breweries have had many successes and challenges, but they could not have developed the reputation as producers of the world’s best beer without the support of beer lovers globally. As of 2012, U.S. craft brewers represented a mere 10.2% of the overall beer sales in the U.S. That seems like such a small sliver considering that millions of adults enjoy, support and are loyal to their local breweries.
Challenges to Small Brewers
It is important to point out that craft brewers face many challenges including access to market (do you ever find yourself asking why you cannot get your favorite beer at your local restaurants and taverns?), cost challenges of raw materials and ingredients, operation in a highly regulated and highly taxed industry and more. Remember, when you Support Your Local Brewery, you are supporting the community and culture of craft brewing in the U.S., which then helps our craft brewers provide jobs and support back to their local communities!