Did you know that beer is one of the oldest beverages that humans have ever made? It is thought that to get right back to the origins of it, you would have to travel back over 7,000 years to what is now modern-day Iran. Originally, barely was used to produce beer, but brewers in Germany eventually moved onto using hops, and the rest of the beer-making world followed suit.
I’ve always loved beer, ever since I was old enough to drink alcohol, but it was always a standard, mass-produced lager that I would go for. However, I was introduced to craft beer quite recently, by my brother, who developed a taste for it when he moved to Suffolk. I always thought they were for either old men or wannabe hipsters. It took me a while to find one that I liked – they can be very different in taste to a standard lager – but now, while I still love an ice-cold lager in the summer, I do reach for a bottle of good craft beer sometimes. Where we live there has been a huge increase in the number of microbreweries popping up – there is one in Abergele, which we will be popping along to and seeing what they have on offer soon.
It isn’t just the UK who has seen a rise in the popularity of craft beer and microbreweries. In America, as of the beginning of this year, more than 8,000 breweries are responsible for the beer brands available. Each of these, such as Melvin Brewing, will have their own distinct beer.
Craft beers are generally beers that are made in smaller batches – crafted, rather than manufactured and mass-produced. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily good, but you can drink them knowing that there has been a great deal of love and care put into producing them.
What denotes a craft beer?
While there is no rule book as such in the UK for defining a craft beer, there are some things that might signify that the beer you are drinking is a craft beer. These include:
- Size of brewery: As I mentioned above, if it comes from a small or a microbrewery, there is a very good chance that it is a craft beer. However, as craft beers become more mainstream, even bigger breweries are getting in on the action, so it is becoming less of a defining factor.
- Unique tastes: Craft beers are generally more bold and experimental in taste. For example, the one that I like is very, very citrusy – as soon as you take a sip, that is the flavour that hits you. Others might be more ‘hoppy’, or even sour.
- Branding: The labels are more eye-catching and artistic than traditional beer labels
- Names: To stand out amongst the big players, craft beers often have funny or strange names – one from Melvin Brewing is called Killer Bees!
Next time you go to the pub, or you go to pick up some beers to enjoy over the weekend, try a craft beer. You never know, you might be surprised!