Craft beer is a common term used to describe many of the beers we drink today, but what, exactly, is craft beer? When did the term become popular, and what does the future of craft beer look like for the UK and across the globe?

What Is Craft Beer - Small Stein of Beer with Beer Bottle and Bread in the Background

Craft Beer: Defined

Craft beer, while increasingly popular everywhere, is somewhat difficult to define. Generally speaking, craft beer is beer that is made by independent breweries in small batches. According to Brewer's Association, in order to qualify as a craft brewery, crafter beer "must come from a brewery that brews no more than 6 million barrels of beer per year, have under a quarter of the brewery owned or controlled by the alcoholic beverage industry, and has at least half of its volume in all malt beers." Microbreweries and nanobreweries produce smaller quantities of beer annually and typically focus more on experimentation and variety. No matter the size of the craft brewery, craft beers stay true to style and are usually packed with distinct, detectable flavours, aromas and characteristics. Craft breweries tend to put heart and soul into their recipes and spare no effort experimenting and concocting delicious batches of craft beer.

The opposite of craft beer is commercial beer, which is mass-produced and readily available in most pubs and restaurants. However, you won't find commercial beer on tap if you step inside a craft brewery.

Where did craft beer come from, and why is it so popular?

Artisanal breweries have been around for centuries, but the craft beer scene as we know it today really became popular in the 1970s when homebrewing became legal and common in the U.S.

As more and more people began to dive into the craft of brewing, one man in particular is credited for breaking through the mold: Jack McAuliffe. McAuliffe served the US Navy, and when he was deployed to Scotland he was especially impressed by the local beer. He learned how to brew, and when he returned to the states he eventually quit his job to start the first American microbrewery, New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, California, circa 1976. While the brewery only stayed in business for six years, its impressive craft beer inspired many others to found their own craft breweries. Eventually, the craft brewery scene spread across the country, and then across the pond.

The UK has been home to beer and brewing for centuries, but the explosion of experimental craft brewing in the United States quickly spread to the UK and has clearly stood the test of time. According to an article from BBC, there are now over 1,500-2,000 small breweries in the U.K. which is more breweries per head than anywhere else in the entire world.

So to answer the question: Is craft beer a fad, or is it here to stay? Answer: craft beer isn't going away any time soon.

Craft Beer Examples

Looking to get your hands on craft beer? Whether you're brand new to craft beer or just looking to try something different, the best place to start is the lineup of Beer Hawk Mixed World Beer Cases. Each case includes 12-15 different beers, many of which are made at craft breweries around the world. Here's some of our personal favourites:

  1. IPA Mixed Case. Includes 15 cracking IPA Beers from 13 different breweries. From sessionable, crushable IPAs to full-bodied, hoppy brews, this case has a little bit of everything. In August 2020, one happy customer wrote: "A wonderful selection of IPA's, loved every single one. Great service, will order again."-Jason (Five Stars)
  2. Great British Mixed Case. Includes 15 British beers from 15 different breweries with 7 different styles. In this beer case you'll be able to try Pale Ales, IPAs, a Stout, and more! With hundreds of 5-star reviews, this beer case is filled with fantastic craft beers that anyone will enjoy.
  3. Abbey & Trappist Mixed Case. Trappist monks have been brewing since the middle ages, long before the birth of the craft beer scene as we know it today. Abbey and Trappist beers are known for being brewed with historical recipes, the highest quality ingredients, and pure brewing methods. The craft of beer is truly captured in this mixed case, featuring 12 beers with a chalice included.
  4. German Beer Mixed Case. This case includes 15 beers, from German wheat beers, to lagers and more. Germans are known for their big, crushable beers with frothy heads and refreshing, unique characteristics and flavours. Prost!
  5. Low & No Alcohol Mixed Case. Alcohol free beer has inundated the craft beer scene in the best way possible. Gone are the days of flavourless, dull low alcohol brews. Today, some of the best craft breweries are capturing the flavours and aromas of full ABV beers in a variety of low alcohol and alcohol free alternatives. This mixed case includes a variety of craft beers with 0.0%-0.5% ABV, including IPAs, Wheat Beer, Lagers and more. If you're looking to try some cracking beers without the buzz, this case is for you.