Craft beer has taken convenience store beer caves by storm in recent years.
The Brewers Association has reported that retail dollar sales of craft beer grew 6%, up to $29.3 billion in 2019, and now account for more than 25% share of the $116.0 billion U.S. beer market.
But what exactly is craft beer and how is it different from regular beer?
Traditional or regular beer is mass produced in big batches often using cost-effective ingredients. Craft beer, by contrast, is produced in smaller batches. The Brewers Association pointed out that craft brewers are small — meaning that annual production must measure six million barrels of beer or less to qualify as craft. Craft brewers are also independent, meaning less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned by/connected via investment to non-craft brewer, per The Brewers Association.
Quality, often hand-selected ingredients are a key component of craft beer.
“The hallmark of craft beer and craft brewers is innovation. Craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists and develop new styles that have no precedent,” The Brewers Association explained, adding that craft beer is usually made with traditional ingredients such as malted barley. As innovation is a huge part of craft beer, many times non-traditional ingredients are added to give the craft brew a distinctive taste.
Flavor is king when it comes to craft beer, and similar varieties of craft beer can vary wildly from brand to brand. Craft beer goes far beyond lagers into a wide range of beer types from American Pale Ale to Hefeweizen to Amber Ale to Porters and Stouts — the list goes on.
Convenience stores often see success showcasing craft beer made by local craft breweries. Craft beer brands often come out with seasonal limited-time-only varieties, such as a Summer Ale, Winter Porter and Pumpkin Ale.