Even the inexperienced beer drinkers have noticed that the world of beer has changed over the last decades. More and more people turn their backs on large beer manufacturers and industrial conglomerates and focus on beers produced in microbreweries. Before we look into the possible reasons for the ever-increasing popularity of microbreweries, first we need to chalk out what the term exactly means. Technically speaking, a microbrewery is a brewery that produces less than six million barrels of beer per year. Another term for this kind of operation, and certainly a fancier one, is “craft brewery”. In addition to the precisely defined amount of beer produced per year, a brewery can be classified as “micro” only if it is independent. In this case independency means that less than one quarter of it is owned or operated by another brewery that cannot be classified as “micro.”
The number of microbreweries is on the constant rise, especially in North America and Europe. The trend started in the 1970s in United Kingdom, where “cask beer” suddenly became popular and where the tax laws were, at least initially, very favorable for such operations. From there, the trend travelled overseas and over the course of following decades completely conquered USA and Canada. Today, there isn’t a larger city in those countries without at least one microbrewery, and in some cities their number is not even proportional to the number of residents.
One of the reasons why microbreweries are so popular these days may lie in the fact that an average beer drinker has grown up and became more demanding. The usual watered-down, bland and dull corporate beers don’t seem to satisfy their taste and they simply move on in search for better options.
Another possibility might be that the selection is just so much larger with microbreweries. Those breweries constantly come up with different beers, seasonal brews and what not, competing with each other in flavor and technology innovations. This, of course, always impresses the customers.
Another factor that should not be neglected is a sense of “hipness” that microbreweries carry. For some people, drinking a cheap, populist, industrial-made beer for masses is something they wouldn’t be caught dead doing. Going for an obscure, hip-named brand from a local microbrewery gives them a sense of exclusivity that they long for in all aspects of their lives.
Microbreweries often sell their beer to local pubs and bars in the city they are based in, or they have their own bars and beer gardens located within or near the brewery. This, of course, means regular customers, people who love going out to same places and who are loyal to them for ages. The same goes for the loyalty for a brewery, no matter what kind of beer they produce. Therefore, locals will probably rather go for a locally made beer from a microbrewery than for the kind that is available across the nation.
Of course, let’s not forget that stubborn, independent trait that many people have, especially when it comes to corporations. If we can choose between a locally brewed beer that supports the community and respects the natural sources, social issues and the actual beer culture and a standard corporate beer, the choice is obvious.