What Does “Craft” Beer Mean These Days?

“The big guys are now parodying us…They’re running out of ideas,” Tony Magee, founder of Lagunitas, tells NPR. His opinion is reflective of the growing resentment craft brewers feel toward their multinational counterparts that increasingly threaten the meaning of “craft” as they create knockoffs and buy little producers, while craft breweries scale up operations. The result is a blurring of craft beer’s definition. 

The Brewers Association, a Colorado group that has long represented the craft beer community, has changed its definition of “craft beer” several times, the most recent of which allows Pennsylvania beer gian, Yuengling & Sons Inc., to  join. While craft beer once referred to a product made exclusively from barley malt (large producers rely on rice and corn) from producers who made at least half of their own product, it seems nowadays everyone has some claim to craftiness. (Anheuser-Busch recently acquired both Widmer Bros. and Goose Island, but does not put its name on the label). Craft beer still only takes 8% of the $100 billion U.S. beer market, but with such share still up for grabs, the debate will likely become more fierce in the years to come. [NPR] [Photo: Flickr/Squawkr]