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: A brewery worker prepares the milled barley grains for mashing

As craft beers continue to rise in popularity, so do microbreweries. More people, especially young adults, are opting for local beers brewed in small breweries. 


With craft beer, they have the freedom to experiment with different styles and taste profiles. Or perhaps, it’s because beers crafted in different microbreweries have interesting backstories. 

Whatever the reason is, there seems to be a growing trend in favor of craft beer and therefore, microbreweries instead of commercially produced ones.

So what is a microbrewery exactly? Read on to learn more about them! 

What Makes a Brewery “Micro”?

Microbrewery is the term used to describe the size of a brewery. Compared to macrobreweries, which produce millions of barrels per year, microbreweries produce a relatively small amount of beer—between 1,000 to no more than 15,000 barrels annually.

But aside from their size, what makes microbreweries special is that they’re known for brewing  specialty beers

Specialty beers are beers that don’t cleanly fall into any category. They could be porter, stout, or pale ales brewed with unique hops, fruits, spices, licorice, odd fermentables, and other miscellaneous flavors.

Microbreweries also make craft beers.

Four specialty beers lined up in a flight

Microbrewery vs Craft Brewery: Are They The Same?

Does that mean microbreweries and craft breweries are the same? Many people think microbreweries and craft breweries are synonymous, but they’re not.

Craft breweries have a set limit to their brewing techniques—their beer should contain at least 50% traditional malt instead of adjuncts like wheat and barley. They must also meet certain standards to be considered a craft brewery.

Craft breweries can have small or big beer production because they can make as many as six million barrels a year!

A microbrewery, on the other hand, doesn’t have limited brewing techniques. Their only limitation is the number of barrels they produce. That means a microbrewery can be a craft brewery (provided it has met craft brewing standards), but a craft brewery isn’t always a microbrewery.

A Short History

The term “microbrewery” was coined in the United Kingdom in the 1970s. It was used not to refer to production size, but to describe the lot of inventive entrepreneurs who create bold, experimental flavors unlike the ones produced by major breweries.

They didn’t have small brewing equipment then, so they had to build their own system from old dairy equipment. They brewed their beer in sheds and small buildings. 

Because the number of such brewers and “breweries” started growing, a new term was needed to differentiate them. People started using the word “microbrewery” which began to spread throughout Europe, the U.S., and other parts of the world.

America opened its first modern microbrewery in California in 1977. But home brewing and microbreweries proliferated when the beer market was deregulated in 1979. 

In Canada, the first official microbrewery opened in 1984 in Vancouver.

The Value of Microbreweries

There’s a lot more to microbreweries than just good beer. They also offer many economic, community, and environmental benefits:

Creates Employment Opportunities

A microbrewery creates jobs even before it opens. The construction of a microbrewery is a serious gig that goes beyond the scope of a DIY project. That means electricians, masons, plumbers, and more would be needed.

Once it opens, it would need staff—from servers to logistics people—in order to operate. Put them all together, and it brings more spending power to the community.

Pushes for Beer Innovation

Microbreweries are known for their beer innovation. In fact, most of the beer styles we have today—from Indian Pale Ales to fruit sours—started as a “craft.” This continuous experimentation and progressive brewing are what make microbreweries so interesting.

Less Carbon Footprint

Microbreweries usually partner with local farmers for their grains, which does not just bolster the local economy but also has a lesser impact on the environment. They are easier to power on alternative energy sources because their operations are relatively small.  

Microbrewery owners drink craft beer in their own brewpub

The Trusted Logistics Partner of Microbreweries

Brew Movers offers reliable logistics services across North America—from transporting beer and empty kegs, to microbrewery equipment, hops, grains, and anything else you need for your microbrewery operations. 

Contact us today to learn more about our services or to request a quote!