The 10 Things That Make Craft Beer Better than Mass Produced Beer

Oh craft beer, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I was thinking about how two things that are very similar, craft beer and macro-brews, occupy very different parts of my brain.  Both are beer, but one I adore and the other repels me.

This also goes for the people who make them. I appreciate the art and dedication of craft brewers, while I tend to see the mega brewers as soulless corporations exploiting their customers who don’t know any better.

Don would say this is because I lean liberal, and think it’s my place to defend all the unenlightened people (anyone who doesn’t agree with my views) from their own stupidity.  I tend to have more respect for people than that, but in this case he’d be right – folks don’t know what they’re missing.  If they did, they’d leave the big-boys brewers behind.

So in the interest of public service (and pushing my own liberal beer agenda) I give you the Top 10 reasons why craft beer is superior to Budweiser, Coors, Miller and the rest of mass-produced yellow fizzy beverages on the market. 

I’ve numbered them, but they’re in no particular order.

10: Philosophy – It all starts with the mindset of the brewer.  Most craft brewers got into the business to make the best beer possible.  They have a business to run just like the big boys, but the goal is usually to deliver the best product.  The big brewers are driven by a mass-merchandising mindset, where profits matter the most.  This is a fundamental difference between craft brewers and macro brewers.

9: Value – Craft beer costs a bit more than mass-produced beer, but you’re getting a product that is far superior for your money.  The difference in cost is dwarfed by the difference in quality, including the ingredients used, the time spent brewing, and, most importantly, how the product tastes.

8: Ingredients –There’s an enormous difference between what goes into craft beers and their more common cousins.  Most craft beers are brewed with only water, barley, wheat, and hops, while macro brews contain corn, rice, coloring and other junk to keep ingredient costs down. Also, in order to make the best tasting product possible, craft brewers use much greater quantities of ingredients than macro brewers. Big brewers skimp on ingredients to pad profits. In the end, craft beer is a much better “food” than macro brews.

7: Taste – All of those good ingredients that go into craft beer make for a better tasting brew. The better the ingredients, the better the meal.  Drink a Victory lager side by side with a Budweiser and you’ll taste a clear difference. And that’s before craft brewers start using their freedom to play with the recipes.  Macro brews are best to drink when they’re ice cold so you can’t taste them very well.

6: Creativity – Let’s face it, mass-produced beers are boring, and one is pretty much interchangeable for the other.  This is why they rely on packaging gimmicks, sex appeal and humor to differentiate their products, because there is no real difference.  Craft beer on the other hand is all about being creative and coming up with something that’s delicious and unique.  There are no corporate limitation on what they can do – most are entrepreneurs who own their own place and are free to play around and create something new.

5: Variety – From this creativity comes an enormous variety of beers. Not just different styles of beers like pilsners, porters, stouts and ales, but unique spins on each style, mash ups between styles and the addition of interesting ingredients, like cherries, or yams or even hemp.  Craft beer crushes macro-brews in this regard.

4: Discovery – With so many brewers applying so much creativity and energy into making great beer, there’s always something new to discover.  A new brewery, a new take on a classic style, a beer that uses ingredients in a new way.  There’s always something around the corner that’ll tickle you pink.  The macro brewers pump out the same old stuff year in and year out, save for trends like ice beers, Bud Lime and packaging that turns blue when your beer is cold.  Good thing, too, because you wouldn’t want to taste it warm!

3: Geekdom – With so much to learn and discover about the world of craft beer, it’s easy for it to become a hobby of sorts.  You want to try the classics, get your hands on limited releases, share you enthusiasm with friends.  Craft beer offers a lifestyle, a culture.  Macro brews do too, but it usually involves a funnel, a Sharpie and waking up with a penis drawn on your face.

2: Collaboration – Brewers are the biggest beer geeks of all, and many of them are big fans of each other’s work.  So they tend to get together and come up with interesting beers and then sell them to the rest of us.  This underscores what craft beer is really all about – enthusiasm for creating something special, the sharing of ideas, and keeping things fresh and moving forward.  In the end, the craft beer drinker is rewarded with new and delicious beers to enjoy.  I could only imagine  what a collaboration between Miller and Bud would be like – Ice Light Lime?

1: Pride – Last but not least, there’s the fact that you can be proud of the craft beer scene in America.  30 years ago, we brewed some of the feeblest beer in the world, pumping out millions of gallon of fizzy yellow junk (you know, macro brews). But after the craft beer revolution that started in the late 70’s, America has grown to become a shining star of creativity and excellence in beer. We’ve done so well, that our beers are starting to change the landscape in the German and England and other places that have been doing beer right for centuries.  I’m proud to say that America brews the best beer in the world, and it’s not because of what Bud, Miller and Coors are making.  They’re the problem and craft beer is the solution.

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir.  If you’re here on the site, then you probably know first hand what makes craft beer so superior to the big guys. Maybe pass this along to a friend who loves beer, but insists on drinking the same old stuff.  It might be enough to convince him or her that there’s a wonderful world of creativity, discovery and mind-blowingly delicious beer out there just waiting for them.

If you’re the friend who has received this, let me be more direct – PUT DOWN THE BUD AND GET SOME GOOD BEER ALREADY!!!  Can’t be any more direct than that. 🙂

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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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6 Comments on “The 10 Things That Make Craft Beer Better than Mass Produced Beer”

  1. Martin Peake
    July 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    America’s craft/micro brewers do seem to be brewing some fine beers ! But we’re doing OK for choice here in jolly ol’ England !!!!!!

    • July 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

      No one would suggest that folks in England are suffering from a lack of good beer. But for 50 years after Prohibition, you couldn’t say the same for the States. Now we’re rebounding nicely, and starting to brew some very weird and wonderful beers. It’s a new wave of experimentation and collaboration, and it’s starting to spread around the globe. I think that’s terrific.

    • Kerri
      July 18, 2010 at 6:26 am #

      I guess I must also have a liberal beer agenda because I totally agree with Jim. I’m from Alaska where the beer and the brewing community are everything a craft beer drinker could possibly want or imagine. Creativity and Collaboration are the name of the game! Even rather remote communities such as Haines, Skagway, Kodiak and Sitka have their own local breweries. If you know anything about beer, you’d never reach for a BudMillCoors in the 49th State!

      @Martin – currently I’m living in Kent and have only barely dipped my toes into local beer offerings. I’ve had some lovely Harvey’s ales and recently had a chance to try out something from Hopdaemon. Any suggestions for this Alaskan beer geek??

  2. Martin Peake
    July 16, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    We tend to stick to a range of 3.5%-6% ales of light & dark ilks !
    But at least our ‘session’ beers have a varied amount of taste/flavour/body unlike Bud, Coors et al ???

    • July 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

      Agreed, our big brewers make awful low ABV beers.

      I did a post yesterday about a new brewery in Boston that is only brewing beers with an ABV of under 4.5%. One of the two fellas who’s involved is from Manchester, so I expect he knows a thing or two about big flavored, low ABV beers. I can’t wait to try their stuff.


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