My friends and family ask me about the difference between craft beer and mainstream beer; a curiosity they always chirp when they see me down my favourite crafty brew. So, given I am no expert in brewing or beer, I’ll attempt to give my tuppence worth!
First, let’s distinguish a microbrewery and a large commercial mainstream brewer; volume. Large breweries churn out large volumes of mass appealing beer, microbreweries don’t. They brew specialty beers in relatively smaller quantities. Does that mean that only microbreweries can produce craft beer? Not at all! Large breweries can produce craft beer as well, but I’d assume most do not. Why? I’ll try and explain in a sec.
So what is craft beer? It’s not a weird fruity beer, as some of my friends would suggest. To me, craft beer is the product of traditional brewing techniques and quality ingredients resulting in a beer style that is unique with a distinctive flavour. I’m sure that craft brewers would agree that it is expensive to produce, and laborious, but craft brewing allows flexibility to produce different beer styles that are unique to their brewery and in smaller quantities.
To answer why I believe large-scale breweries don’t brew craft beer: economics. It is far more cost effective to brew a beer with mass appeal brewed with cheaper ingredients in large quantities using new brewing technologies. The subdued flavour makes the beers palatable and snazzy marketing sells them. Craft beer has nuances each time it’s brewed making the beer less consistent than the big brewery brews. It wouldn’t make economic sense for big brewers to mass produce inconsistent beers.
There you have it, my distinction between craft and mainstream brews. Of course, there would be many more narratives between the two.
I’d be keen to hear what you think!
I prefer craft beer simply because (I think) they taste better. Not only that, it supports local business. If you’re curious about starting the craft beer journey, let me recommend a few local brews:
- Stone & Wood – Pacific Ale
- Newstead Brewing Co – 3 Quarter Time Session Ale (Brisbane)
- Green Beacon Brewing Co – Cross Knot Kolsch (Brisbane)
- Brisbane Brewing Co – Brissy Pils (Brisbane)
These are all available in the breweries (above), bars, and some in specialty bottle shops:
- Next Door Cellars (at Archive Beer Boutique)
- Hawthorne Super Cellars
- Greenslopes Super Cellars
- Malt Traders
These bottle shops are all in Brisbane. Let them know I’ve sent you along. If you live outside of Brisbane and want to know where to find the brews listed or some others, contact me!