When the specialty or “microbrew” craze hit in the 80’s and 90’s, just about any beer could call itself anything it wanted. Microbrew was the favoured as “micro”… small… small is good was the theory.
Well at some point the government got involved and said to the brewers that if you brew more than “x” number of barrels a year of a type of beer, you are no longer “micro” (or small). This is how “craft” brewing was born.
In as nutshell, craft brewed beer is “microbrewed” in large batches. Talk about an oxymoron.
Most microbrewies (and some craft brewers) still subscribe to a purity agreement instituted in Germany way back in 1516. It was a law called the “Reinheitsgebot.” This law decreed that beer will be made from only water, malt, hops, and yeast. In the years since, many breweries decided to use adjuncts in their beers in order to reduce cost and lighten the flavor.
The emergence of microbreweries in the U.S. is a result of small brewers recognizing the demand for full flavored, adjunct-free beers like those traditionally made in Europe.
Unfortunately, in the United states, brewers and not required to list their ingredients on the product