The world of beer is constantly evolving and as more breweries become interested in smaller brewing batches, there is an endless stream of knowledge to gain on the subject. One of the most frequent questions that we are asked at Frankenmuth Brewery is “What is the difference between craft beer vs. microbrew?” While there is an answer for that question, it’s not so simple. Read on to learn on how a craft beer can be a microbrew, the traditional rules that must be followed to be considered a certain kind of beer and the limits on brew production.
According to the national Brewers’ Association, a microbrewery is any “brewery that produces less than 15,00 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site.” While there are no restrictions on what kind of beer can be brewed or what ingredients must be used at a microbrewery, many brewmasters are already focused on making their beer as different as possible from other breweries. At the end of 2011, the number of microbreweries in the United States has increased to 789 (which includes Frankenmuth Brewery), from 615 in 2010.
Here is where the craft beer vs. microbrew debate gets a little murky. Our Michigan brewery falls under the number limit set by industry standards for a microbrewery, but Frankenmuth Brewery is also considered a craft brewery by the definition of the Brewers’ Association. The requirements for a craft brewery as stated by the Brewers’ Association are a production rate of less than 6 million barrels of beer a year, that the majority of our Michigan brewery is independent from any beer industry corporations and that there is a malt based flagship beer.
What does this all mean? Essentially having our Michigan brewery deemed a craft brewery means that we create small batches of malt-based beer and that we are independent from any of the American big box breweries. There are over 1900 craft breweries currently in operation in the United States and we are proud to count ourselves as one of the oldest breweries in the country.
In the grand scheme of the craft beer vs. microbrew conversation, the fact is, it’s important to drink what you love and not worry about the numbers. At Frankenmuth Brewery, we like to keep an independent spirit and brew all kinds of beers, but it doesn’t mean anything if people don’t buy and enjoy it. We’re proud to be both a craft brewery and microbrewery, but at the end of the day, we just want our customers to enjoy our beer.