While some of your friends stick to beers that can be found at your local grocery store while the rest order small-batch uniquely flavorful beers and ales, and you find yourself wondering about the difference in taste and preference. It all just sounds so complicated.
“This one is more hoppy.”
“This one is made with more malt.”
“This one has a spicy kick – they put habanero in it!”
“This one’s more traditional, but it’s aged in bourbon barrels, so you get a hint of that.”
“This one is sweet, with a hint of tropical fruit.”
Maybe you’re new to the beer and ale scene, or maybe you’re just a creature of habit. If you’ve decided to branch out, out of pure wonder or curiousity, you’re probably unsure of where to begin. There are, after all, hundreds of craft breweries turning out thousands of unique varieties of fermented grain. Different methods, different tastes – it’s all new to you, so how do you decide?
You dive in. Craft beer makers and microbreweries specialize in breaking the mold and thinking outside the box, trying to breathe new life into something that is already pretty amazing – American brews. That’s what craft beers and microbrews are all about – building on the already great traditions and methods that have turned out the best beers, but giving those beers a little bit of a personal twist. Before you decide what you might like to try, there are some things you should know.
So, what’s the difference between a “craft beer” and a “microbrew”?
While some people might use the terms interchangeably – and the two do have some elements in common – there are some notable differences, and it all starts with where and how they’re brewed.
A “craft brewery” is independently owned and limited to brewing no more than 2 million gallons per year; there are also some strict guidelines on the techniques used to produce the beer. Additionally, beers from craft breweries contain at least half malt rather than barley.
A “microbrewery,” is limited to 15,000 barrels (or 460,000 gallons) per year; three-quarters of the beer produced in a microbrewery must be sold outside of the brewery. A microbrewery is not limited to using certain techniques or ingredients.
So, simply put:
- Craft breweries can make approximately four times as much beer as microbreweries
- Craft breweries are limited in their techniques and ingredients (microbreweries are not).
- Craft breweries can sell their brews outside of the brewery, microbreweries have mandates they are supposed to follow regarding the amount they’re allowed to sell within the brewery.
Each type of brewery uses their limitations to their advantage by creating niches; unique specialties that make their particular beer, brand, and brew more intriguing to consumers. Craft breweries, for example, take pride in using the finest, sometimes only local ingredients in their beers. Some use specialized equipment, including barrels previously used for whiskey or bourbon, so that it takes on a bit of the whiskey or bourbon flavor.
The Huffington Post says that craft beers must have three qualities in order to call themselves “craft,” namely: (1) The brewery produces a small amount of beer, (2) The brewery is independently owned; and (3) The majority of what the brewery produces is done in a traditional way.
At Easy Monkey, you can try some of the greatest varieties of Seattle’s locally crafted beers and ales. From IPAs to Porters, Stouts, and Blonde Ales, you’re sure to find something that you love enough to keep you coming back for more. We believe in supporting our local economy and brewers; we feature beers and ales from American Brewing, Big E, Dirty Bucket, Georgetown, Hellbent, Salish Sea, and Two Beers.
You may be a newbie now – unfamiliar with all of the wide variety options available to you (there’s a whole new world out there!) – but if you want to expand your horizons, break out of your shell, and try something new… you’re always welcome to try Easy Monkey Taphouse. We have tons of local varieties of craft and microbrews on tap.