In the early 1980’s, the beer world started to change because of the very slow, but very real emergence of craft breweries. For the first time in decades, instead of only having mass-produced, national-in-scale breweries making beer, the 80’s and most of the 90’s, saw the emergence of smaller, quality and recipe focused breweries. These dramatically smaller breweries were known as microbreweries.
As microbrewed beer became more and more popular, the large national breweries started to release new beers with the hopes of defusing the growth of microbreweries. These mass-produced beers marketed as “microbrewed” did two things: they gave the national breweries a new customer who actually liked the new beers and they chased away others because the beer was generally thin and watery. Throughout the 1990’s, a lot of small, or micro, breweries opened because if was “the thing to do” but they were not being run by true craftsmen. The result was that by the end of the decade, many of these profit-before-quality breweries went out of business or sold their operation. The impact of beer that was marketed as microbrewed but was bad or watery… or both… ended up hurting the microbrewery industry.
But the truly great microbrewed beers survived during those turbulent years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. And at the same time, the word “craft” became the operative word for describing high quality, carefully brewed, creatively inspired, and delicious beer. While many of these breweries were micro in size, the beer industry’s focus was more on the care that went into making these beers—they were crafted, not just microbrewed.
Even with all the growth we are seeing today in craft beer, small batch, microbreweries are still very much part of the craft beer industry. These breweries are generally regarded as operations that make less than 15,000 barrels of beer each year. And within this smaller craft brewery category, is the smallest brewery: the nanobrewery. Nanobreweries brew less than 2000 barrels/year and are producing no more than 3 barrels in each batch. But even nanobreweries are making a lot of beer! One barrel of beer equals 31 gallons, so a nano brewery is making 62,000 gallons of beer/year!
The nano brewery is also a natural size for encouraging experimentation. Most nano breweries thrive on releasing nothing but new recipes. Aslin Beer Company, with three locations in Virginia, is a nanobrewery making spectacular craft beer! Their beer is available in cans and on draft here in the greater Baltimore area. I’ve had eight different beers from Aslin and each one has been amazing.
Have a great weekend! And make it even greater my finding any beer from Aslin Beer Company, a nanobrewery who is making unbelievable beer!
The Craft Beer Guy