What is a Craft Brewery?

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An American craft brewery is:


Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to rules of alternating proprietorships.


Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.


Holds a Brewer’s Notice issued by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, or its successor, or control the intellectual property for one or more brands of beer, have that brand or brands brewed for it in the United States, and have as its primary business purpose the resale of the brand or brands it controls.

Look for the Seal

The Brewers Association, publishers of CraftBeer.com, launched a seal for independent craft brewers in summer 2017. The design is an upside down beer bottle, which symbolizes how craft beer has essentially turned the beer market on its head. You can see the independent craft brewer seal here.

independent craft brewer seal

The seal sends a “clear message to the beer drinker” that a beer is made by a small and independent brewer, explains Brewers Association Director Paul Gatza.

Look for it on brewery websites, beer packaging, menus and more. That’s how you know you’re buying beer made by an independent craft brewer.

Defend Craft

Craft brewers face many challenges including access to market, cost of raw materials and ingredients and operation in a highly regulated and highly taxed industry. You can help defend craft by joining the Support Your Local Brewery network. Don’t worry, other than the occasional national issue, you will only receive Action Alerts when initiatives arise in your state.

Craft Brewery Quick Hits

  • Craft brewers are small brewers — very small.
  • More than 80 percent of adults of legal drinking age live within 10 miles of a brewery. Use the Brewery Finder to find a craft brewery near you.
  • The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic beer styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent.
  • The Brewers Association currently recognizes more than 150 beer styles. Many of today’s craft brewers also stray from brewing to style completely. That is what makes their craft brewed beers so interesting.
  • Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, beer donations, volunteerism and sponsorships.