All About Beer Magazine - Volume 36, Issue 1
March 1, 2015 By

Brewers Association

Small—Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships.

Independent—Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

Traditional—A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

Global Association of Craft Brewers

Local—At least 70 percent of a brewery’s products must be distributed locally—in and around a brewery’s community.
Independent—51 percent of a brewery’s products must be produced using a founder’s own money (without outside investors). This includes funding for brewery equipment, raw materials, bottling, etc. Breweries founded from a cooperation of multiple breweries/brewers may still be considered independent.

Creative—A brewery must show creativity throughout the brewing process and a willingness to experiment with different styles of beer.


Craft Brewing is a category in beer making. There is no qualitative value attached to “craft” or “craft” versus “traditional,” or even what we call “industrial” brewing. There are good and bad quality craft beers. Craft Brewing is a genre. It is not a quality certification.

What criteria define Craft Brewing?

We don’t see all beers as either craft or not craft, but instead on a scale of more or less craft. These criteria are associated with the Craft ethos and culture.

• The business is structured around a brewer/owner and is independent. This person or persons are known to consumers.

• Distinguishes itself from regional or national brewing cultures by producing beer styles inspired by a global Craft culture.

• Primarily focuses on local consumers, local sales and tastes. A craft brewer should embrace a geographic spirit.

• Engages in human-scale rather than corporate-scale business practices.

• A lack of reliance on a fixed line of products or flagship.

• Creative brewing or lack of adherence to traditional brew styles.

• Distinguishes through the use of quality ingredients and the targeting of complex, highest quality flavor profiles.

If it’s not Craft Brewing, what is it?

Industrial, Belgian Traditional, American Regional, English Traditional, German Traditional, Brazilian Traditional.

Related: How Craft Became Craft: Exploring the Word That Transformed Beer