Beer Education – Craft of Not?

For those of you reading this who are still wrapping up at the office, already a few drinks in, or just chilling and wondering what should be on the menu for the weekend, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Last year, for our final project, my International Business team chose to analyze the Hong Kong beer market and strategize an entrance for the Boston Beer Company. Although our instructor bounced us from serving Samuel Adams samples during the final presentation we all walked away with a just a little bit more knowledge about brews.

A while ago I drew upon that knowledge as  a few friends and I set up at-home beer sampling tasting completed with fries and gravy, spicy roasted chickpeas, salty edamame, and 14 different beers. As 14 beers in one night, albeit in sampler sizes, is a tall drink order we ended up only sampling 10. Domestic, foreign, and arguably craft beers were included in the line up – from Halifax’s Moosehead to the Belgian export, Delirium, to the Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams. I am not a beer connoisseur but I tend to favour those with fuller bodies or a crisper sense , that night 3 beers stood out: Shock Top, Rolling Rock, and Creemore’s Hops and Bolts.

Of the three, none are actually considered craft beers by the official bodies. In today’s consumer market, the term craft beer is associated and aligned with a sense of intimacy between the brewer and consumer and superiority in taste and brewing. But the Brewer’s Association (America) has a more defined take, they state that production of craft beer must be carried out by brewers that are within the scope of being small, independent, and traditional.  With Ab Inbev owning the breweries that churn out Shock Top and Rolling Rock and Molson owning Creemore Springs a question of what exactly is craft beer and what definition should be employed arises.

An interesting timbit to take note of is that the brewery that ignited the craft beer movement and education in the United States, the Boston Beer Company, sold 2.3 million barrels in 2010 – over the 2 million limit [ a brewery must produce less than 2 million a year for it to be considered craft] set by the Brewers Association. That year, the allowance was changed to 6 million barrels. Tastes are arbitrary and apparently numbers are too.

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The truth is I am not a beer expert and I can’t really tell you if a beer is craft or not but I can tell you this:

Shock Top – Tastes light and golden with hints of citrus. Personally, I think it tastes like sunshine.

Rolling Rock -Refreshing light taste with a slight hint of lemon

Hops and Bolts – A bit harsh with a fuller malty flavour with strong citrus and light caramel notes

Sorry, I lied, I don’t have you covered – I am not qualified to give out beer recs.

That’s all she wrote folks!

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