The craft beer revolution, in both the USA and the UK, has been, so far, a return to the roots of beer brewing. In recent years, craft beer has seen a significant boom in the market, with people seeking an alternative to the mass-produced lagers that most major breweries make. The crafting method is all about creating an artisan product that people can thoroughly enjoy the experience of drinking, whether at home, in the pub or out and about. Often intensely influenced by the local area around the brewery, craft brewers of beer are looking to bring taste and individuality back to the world’s favourite beverage, on a smaller scale.
There is no one definition of the term ‘craft beer’, but rather a general consensus that it involves smaller production lines, traditional brewing methods, unusual ingredients and increased integrity. It’s now easily available in supermarkets, pubs, bars and online and its popularity shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. Here we’ll explore major players in the industry, as well as the best ways in which to access your favourite craft beers wherever you are in the world.
By now, almost everybody in the beer-drinking world has heard of BrewDog. A Scottish company that started out with just two employees and a dream, BrewDog is now an international craft brewing phenomenon. Its beer retails in 55 different countries across the globe; both the company and its products routinely make ‘best of’ lists and have broken more than a few world records; and the brand has even branched out into its own line of bars and hotels. BrewDog is an unstoppable force and its continued popularity has proven to everybody, time and again, that the world is crying out for this type of beer, brewed in this type of way.
Despite its status as an international trendsetter, selling and brewing beer across Europe, the UK, the USA, South America and even Australia, BrewDog has stayed true to its original principles. The enormous growth of the company over the past decade or so is largely down to crowdfunding efforts and a co-operative business model, meaning that the principles behind craft beer go right down to the bones of this company. There’s no doubt that many up and coming breweries have looked to BrewDog for guidance when starting out on their craft beer journey.
Micro-Breweries & Local Breweries
Of course, BrewDog began in the same way that many other breweries do – as a local business making small batches of beer that were mostly sold and consumed in the surrounding area. There are now countless micro-breweries and local craft breweries all over the world, though there seem to be a higher concentration in the UK and USA. This isn’t surprising, as these two nations are where craft beer has seen the greatest and most sustained interest.
For example, take the small town of Huddersfield in rural West Yorkshire, England; surrounded by rolling hills, the remains of an industrial past and the Northern powerhouses of Manchester and Leeds, it doesn’t seem like a major player in any industry now. However, local craft brewery Magic Rock is carving out a significant niche in the global craft beer market. Having made it to second best new brewery in the world when they were first starting out, the company has gone from strength to strength since then. Despite their relatively small size, they now ship their beers out to 25 different countries, have an onsite Taproom where visitors can sample both food and drink, and they host an annual beer-tasting festival, SeshFest. This small craft brewery is the perfect snapshot of the industry at large – competing with the top dogs for taste and originality, but putting plenty back into their local community as well.
A vital part of the craft beer business is take-outs, i.e. selling cans or bottles of beer that can be taken home. These are available in Taprooms like the one mentioned above at Magic Rock, in supermarkets, in local shops and online. At a time when many people are turning to at-home entertainment options such as watching the game on BT Sport, sharpening their card skills at PokerStarsCasino and honing their DJing prowess with the help of Spotify’s playlists, it’s important to have a take home version of a product that customers can enjoy anytime, anywhere.
Specialist online shops such as Beer52 and HonestBrew mean that people can browse through a wide range of options and learn about what goes into making each product before they purchase. It’s a golden opportunity to communicate directly with customers about a brand’s values, brewing methods and company ethos. It all comes back down to the community that is built around this business; people who are interested in buying craft beer are also more likely to be interested in the faces behind the name and the goals of the company itself. In a world where the big conglomerates dominate the global beer market with fizzy, watered down lagers, craft beer is here to champion good taste and community values without compromise.