Friday, April 3

Craft Beer Revolution

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Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world. Simply put, beer is a beverage made with malted cereal grains (barley, wheat, rye, rice etc.), hops and water that is fermented by yeast to produce alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide. The alcohol levels range from 2% – 15% alcohol by volume. There is more than one type and more than one style.
Beer may be classified as Macro or Craft. Whereas Macro beers are mass produced in large breweries, Craft beer production lays emphasis on traditional and innovative ingredients that are used to produce beers with varying distinct tastes. Craft beer is freshly brewed in small batches to eliminate staling and skunking occurring due to long storage periods and exposure to sunlight as is the case with macro beers. Craft beer is handcrafted for the ever healthy conscious consumer through for instance low calorie beers, gluten free beers, organic beers, alcohol free beers, unfiltered beers, unpasteurized beers as well as a general lack of added sugar, chemical additives and preservatives.
Most craft breweries have a taproom onsite to enhance the consumer experience by showcasing the brewery/dispensing equipment as well as allowing the consumers to interact with the brewing process visually, through guided tours, beer tastings, beer food pairings, beer classes, beer tapping games and participation in brew day activities.
Although mostly served fresh as draft (tapped from a keg or cask), it’s also canned and bottled. To a craft brewer, beer is not just about availability and alcohol content, but individuality, heritage, tradition, sustainability, exploration, artisanship, taste and smell captured in a glass.
Craft beer revolution started in kitchens and garages, intensely local and driven by individual experiments. It was a natural reaction to the uniformity of beer as a result of efficiency led beer company mergers resulting to a rise of mass produced continental lagers that overshadowed classic traditional beer styles. These mergers arose due to automated production methods, accelerated packaging and better distribution networks.
In some countries, it’s easier to trace the start of craft beer revolution i.e. US (1965), Netherlands (1981), Italy (1988) and Australia (1980). In South Africa the craft beer scene has grown tremendously while in the rest of Africa the revolution is underway with the first craft brewery in Kenya opening its doors in 2006 with three more outfits joining the fray over the past few years.
The growth of craft beer can be attributed to demand for variety, increase in income, consumer associations e.g. CAMRA in UK, availability of technical equipment and capital that have allowed brewing on a small scale. Due to this growth, macro brewers have taken to craft brewing by producing craft-style beer, taking over craft breweries and infrastructure investment especially in the distribution chain denying craft brewers consumer access. Despite this, the revolution continues…


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