Craft Breweries 101 - Everything You Want to Know About Craft Beer

If you’re a beer drinker (and even if you’re not), then you know about the rise in popularity of craft beer. With a new craft brewery opening up almost every day, there are now over 5,300 craft breweries in the United States. And now we have a whole week to celebrate these great craft brewers - American Craft Beer Week!

So what makes craft breweries different? One, they are small. Their annual production is less than 6 million barrels. Two, less than 25% of the brewery is owned by a non-craft brewer. Three, they are traditional - meaning over 50% of the volume comes from all-malt beer as opposed to adjuncts like rice or corn. Basically this means that craft beer tastes better because of the high quality and love that goes into making it. Brewers pour their heart and soul into their beer, and it shows.

Now, let’s talk beer. Since you (like most Americans) likely live within 10 miles of a local craft brewery, you should probably know what kind of beer to try. There are many different ways to figure out your go-to beer. You could go by trial and error, you could take our “What Beer Are You” quiz, or you could follow this beer styles guide based on flavor:

Pilsner - Crisp and refreshing, ideal for the new craft beer drinker. Balanced flavor from both mild hops and malt. Light body. Pair with chicken, salmon and salad.
Our favorite: Urban Chestnut Stammtish from Urban Chestnut in St. Louis, MO.

Amber Ale - Malt and hops flavors. Balanced with caramel sweetness and slight bitterness. Full body. Pair it with chicken, seafood, burgers and spicy foods.
Our favorite: Gerst Amber Ale from Yazoo Brewery in Nashville, TN.

American Wheat - Refreshing and easy drinking. Low hop bitterness. Crisp citrusy flavor. Light to medium body. Pair with salad, seafood, fruit and tacos.
Our favorite: Bell’s Oberon from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI.

IPA - Hops (most prominent flavor), limited malt flavors. Sometimes citrus, pine or eathy flavors. Medium body. Warning: not for the faint of heart. Pair it with burgers, spicy foods, fried food and cakes.
Our favorite: Hop, Drop ‘n Roll from NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte, NC.

Stout - Strong roasted flavor and with low hops there’s a malty chocolate flavor. Full body. Pair with beef, chicken or oysters.
Our favorite: Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island Brewing in Chicago, IL.

Now, head to your local brewery (because we’re team #DrinkLocal), grab a pint or flight, then say cheers as you enjoy some delicious beer in celebration of American Craft Beer Week.


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