What is craft beer?
From 2016 there is an Italian law that defines craft beer, although incomplete and unable to communicate the very essence of the product. Going beyond this inadequate definition, we can say craft beer is the exact opposite of "commercial beer", a mass produced drink made by multinational companies and widely available on the market. In short, craft beer is different and tastier than the average commercial beer one usually knows and drinks.
Going into details, craft beer is unpasteurised, brewed with premium ingredients and without conservatives added. Even if the final result strictly depends on the brewer's skills, craft beer often means quality beer. Production methods are in fact very different from big commercial breweries, which don't put ultimate quality as their first objective. The reasons for this are various:
- Commercial breweries make bland products to level out the taste of consumers and reach an audience as wide as possible. Beers brewed on a commercial scale will never be particularly interesting and will likely be very similar one to another.
- Commercial beers are always microfiltered and pasteurised to guarantee a long shelf life and a standardised product that won't evolve over the course of its life. The result is a lifeless beer without any depth.
- Commercial beers are often brewed with chemical additives, conservatives and adjuncts like rice and sweetcorn instead of malted barley to try and contain production costs to the detriment of taste.
On the contrary, craft beer is never ordinary, it’s characterful and made with creativity. It's real beer that makes the drinking experience unique, and no commercial brewery can guarantee this.
The widespread interest in craft beer is born out of the desire for an alternative to mass produced products. Italy is experiencing a real beer renaissance thanks to over 1,000 craft breweries, most of which have only gone into business recently. This overwhelming enthusiasm for craft beer is not just a domestic phenomenon, it affects most European countries that walked in the footsteps of the USA beer revolution of the 80s (in 2003 there where 1426 craft breweries in the United States). Today these countries play a major role in the world of craft beer, next to old guardians of brewing heritage like Germany, Belgium and UK.