Many people view craft beer as the younger, hip cousin of real ale. While both reject the blandness of mass-produced beers, real ale focuses solely on traditional brewing methods, with most served from a cask via a hand pump in the pub. In contrast, craft beer embraces experimentation and innovation in search of new tastes and styles. The result is modern craft brews with distinct personalities that upend the status quo - this is not your father's beer! So what does make a craft beer?
Craft breweries in the UK generally produce fewer than 5m litres of beer – equivalent to 30,000 barrels – and don't have access to the same scale of production and distribution of large brewers.
Craft brewers are fiercely independent. Often started by a few mates with a passion for brewing, small craft breweries are usually at least 75% independently owned.
Craft brewing uses traditional, time-honoured brewing methods. It avoids some of the murky practices of modern, mass-produced beer, including using additives such as corn or rice. There are no shortcuts here.
With an emphasis on taste and new spins on old recipes, flavour notes are extensive. Cranberry Sour anyone?
Craft breweries tend to spring up in all sorts of places but have their roots firmly planted in the local community, and everyone is usually welcome to pop in for an impromptu tour and natter.
Craft beer is about transparency. A refreshing change from mass-produced beer assembly lines in automated factories, craft brewers are open about techniques and take delight in detailing the hops added to imbue flavour and the taste notes you can expect.
The craft doesn't stop with what's inside the can or bottle. Artistic, edgy, arresting designs transform tins of beer into cylindrical art forms, adding genuine character and energy to each brew.
Extraordinary taste is also a signature of craft beer. Free-thinking experimentation results in a vast range of notes to suit different tastes, while limited runs and collaborations can result in fleeting but memorable flavours.
Explore our range of craft beers from local outfits such as Top Rope, Neptune, Glen Affric Weetwood, Brimstage, and Chapter Brewing. If you feel nervous as a first time crafter, let us recommend you a few new brews.
Happy New (Craft) Beer from all of us at Whitmore & White Frodsham!
Main Photo: Saira at Neptune Brewery