What is considered a craft beverage?

Answered by Jarrod Smith

Craft beverages are often defined as small-batch drinks that are produced by independent, artisanal producers. These beverages are often made with high-quality ingredients and a focus on traditional brewing or distilling methods. Craft beverages can include a wide range of drink types, including beer, cider, wine, spirits, and even non-alcoholic beverages like coffee or kombucha.

One key aspect of craft beverages is the emphasis on being small-batch. Unlike mass-produced beverages, craft beverages are typically made in limited quantities, allowing the producers to have more control over the quality and flavor of their products. This small-batch production also allows for experimentation and innovation, as craft producers can easily adjust their recipes and techniques to create unique and distinctive flavors.

Another important characteristic of craft beverages is that they are independently owned. This means that they are not part of a large corporate conglomerate or owned by a multinational company. Craft producers are often passionate individuals or small teams who are deeply involved in every aspect of the production process, from sourcing ingredients to packaging and marketing.

Craft beverages are known for their attention to detail and craftsmanship. Artisanal producers take pride in their work and strive to create beverages that are of the highest quality. This often means using premium or locally sourced ingredients, employing traditional brewing or distilling techniques, and investing time and effort into perfecting their recipes.

Craft beverages are also typically associated with a strong sense of community and local identity. Many craft producers have close ties to their local communities, and their products often reflect the unique flavors and characteristics of the region. Craft breweries, for example, may use locally grown hops or collaborate with local farmers to create special seasonal beers.

However, as craft beverages gain popularity and success, some producers have faced criticism for growing too large or being acquired by larger companies. This has led to debates within the industry about what truly constitutes a craft beverage. Some argue that once a craft producer reaches a certain size or is owned by a larger corporation, they should no longer be considered “craft.” They believe that the essence of craft is lost when a company becomes too big or loses its independence.

On the other hand, there are those who argue that size and ownership should not be the determining factors of craftiness. They believe that as long as the beverage is made with the same commitment to quality and craftsmanship, it can still be considered craft, regardless of its size or ownership.

Craft beverages are characterized by their small-batch production, independent ownership, attention to detail, and focus on quality and craftsmanship. While there may be debates about what qualifies as “craft” as businesses grow and evolve, the core principles of small-scale production and artisanal techniques remain at the heart of the craft beverage industry.