Why is Craft Beer More Expensive?
Beer has long been seen as a relatively uniform beverage - something affordable that largely tastes the same. If you wanted a drink with flavour, try wine or spirits. Beer was often relegated to quenching the thirst of the masses and not a lot more.
That is until craft breweries began to push the boundaries and take beer into wonderous new realms. For anyone new to craft beer, it can be difficult to associate these new and exciting brews packed full of flavour, with the rather tasteless drink widely referred to as beer. Even craft lager is packed full of flavour in comparison to ‘normal’ beer.
One of the biggest turn offs for potential craft beer converts is the cost of craft compared to normal, macro beer. Thinking that beer is beer and I might as well choose the cheaper option sadly prevents you from discovering a world of new flavours and taste sensations. However, it is worth explaining what makes craft beer more expensive and why it’s worth the cost.
Craft Beer is Made in Small Quantities
While the beer we’re all used to is typically made by huge, global corporations in fully automated beer factories, craft beer is typically made on a much smaller scale. Indeed, many craft brewers started out in a shed or a garage and many more still operate out of such small spaces. As they produce in small quantities, their product is rarer and as such, more expensive - as long as it is better than the competition.
While huge macro-breweries are able to bring in massive quantities of ingredients in bulk, thus reducing costs, craft brewers typically don’t have this luxury. They can only order as much as they can store, paying far higher shipping rates and ingredient costs than the macro giants. The same applies for distribution of the finished product.
Craft Beer Uses High Quality Ingredients
Talking about ingredients, craft beer is generally made from far superior materials compared to macro beers. Hops, malted barley, water and yeast make up craft beer, all of which are fairly expensive to buy in smaller quantities. Macro beers forgo the more expensive ingredients and instead use a mish mash of cheaper alternatives, such as corn or rice in place of malted barley or hop extract instead of real hops.
For a craft brewer, it’s essential that they use good quality barley in order to get more sugar to convert into alcohol. Larger beer companies don’t worry too much about this and use enzymes to break down less desirable grains such as rice and corn, else they add sugar directly to reach the desired ABV.
Craft Beer Covers Many Different Styles
Macro breweries tend to stick only to one style of beer, which is normally a lager or pilsner of some variety. This is a fairly simple style to produce and requires simple ingredients in small amounts. Craft stouts and IPAs however, are an entirely different matter. Hops are an essential element in many craft beers, while most macro-breweries only use the extracts for bitterness.
Hops aren’t cheap and it costs a lot to make a hoppy IPA. Different yeast strains are also used for different beers and most craft breweries produces a wide portfolio. This means a huge list of ingredients must be used.
All in all, this leads to a far higher quality product, crafted with care and attention by hand and from high quality, natural ingredients. As the quality is higher, so too must the price tag be. The best way to look at craft beer is to consider it in the same way wine is looked at. There’s a world of difference between a cheap, mass produced bottle of plonk and an English sparkling wine for example – and most customers are more than happy to pay the difference. Craft beer is no different.