Know Your Brewery Part I

Due to the recent surge in “craft” beer and a number of interesting happenings lately we have decided to start a new series called Know Your Brewery.

First we will start with the definition of the craft brewer.  The Brewer’s Assocation, who advocates on behalf of the approximate 2,300 and growing craft brewers in the country, defines it as someone who produces 6 million or less barrels a year, is independent and tradional.  A barrel (bbl) is equivalent to 2 standard 15.5 gallon kegs.  (We produced about 12 bbl in 2011, 300 bbl in 2012, anticipate about 600 in 2013 and will likely never produce more than 5k bbl).

So that’s a big difference right; to group those that make a couple hundred bbls with those that make 6 MILLION?  Well the limit used to be 2 million but Sam Adams was going to surpass that number and to keep their money and influence in the craft beer world the number had to be raised.  Otherwise they would have joined the big 3 (Miller, Coors, Bud) as a domestic.

I know what you’re saying, aren’t all beers that are made in the US a domestic?  And what defines a microbrewery?  And what is the POINT?!?  Well the point is I would like to re-define brewery classifications for you.  So here are my new guidelines:


Nanobrewery – a small, handmade, often start-up, brewery that produces less than 1k bbl/yr.  Example – the Sawtooth Brewery (Us!) but probably not for long. These breweries are often not sustainable at this size.

Small Craft Brewery – A brewery that is often contained in one building or city (not brewing in 4 different states) and produces less than 50k bbls/yr. Example – Payette Brewing in Boise who produces on the extremely low side of this number at approx. 2k bbls/yr and growing.  We hope to be in this category soon.

Regional Craft Brewery – this brewery produces between 50k and 6M bbls/yr.  Often has multiple production locations, sells in over 10 states, has a team of brewers, sales guys and utilizes a rather large marketing budget. Examples in order of size that are relevant for Idaho – Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Deschutes, Lagunitas, Stone, Alaskan.

Domestic Beer Maker/Seller/TV Ad Producer – annual production WAY over 6M bbls/yr, distribution in EVERY state and production across the US. Oftentimes a subsidiary of a larger, foreign country, parent company.  Example – Budweiser, Miller, Coors


So there you have it.  My guidelines for Knowing Your Brewery.

With all this anomosity you might think I have towards big breweries, I must say this; we certainly wouldn’t be here today without the work of the regional breweries and there is something to say about the challenge of brewing a light, American lager in multiple facilities and always having it taste the exact same but that’s not what this first post is about.

Just ask yourself this next time you sit down for a cold one, not do I know this beer/brewery/style, BUT what do I know about this brewery?  What do I know about the people who work for this brewery?  What do I know about the practices of this brewery?  WHY AM I SUPPORTING THIS BREWERY?

Thanks for your time-





Some more light reading-

-Micro imposters

Many “breweries” are often disguised as small, independent and a micro.  Lots of times this is far from the truth, take for instance Blue Moon who is owned by Coors and brewed in batches of quiptillion gallons at a time (made that number up).

In this article it talks about Goose Island, a brewery that sold out essentially.

First off Goose Island is owned by Budweiser (so is Shock Top).  Next, why would you make a beer named after an area code, file for trademarks for 15 other area codes where you don’t currently have an area code beer at, then brew it at multiple other locations outside the area code and sell it in completely different area codes?  Seems like you outgrew the beer name and marketing a long time ago and are now trying to pull a fast one on the consumer.  But that’s just my opinion.


-Budweiser – The All American Beer?

No, it is a subsidiary of a Belgian owned behemoth.  You are NOT drinking American despite what they tell you and the red, white and blue all over the can.  End of story.

From Wikipedia-
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. is an American brewing company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (abbreviated as AB InBev) is a Belgian-Brazilian multinational beverage and brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. (HQ in Belgium?  Pretty All-American right?)


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