Letter to the Editor: What is Craft Beer?

Mike Fitzgerald, owner of the incoming Nanuet business Growler & Gill, writes about craft breweries


Editor's note: The following is from , who is opening a craft beer store called in Nanuet. 


There is a movement afoot in bars all over America.  Where, a few years ago, you would see three or four taps of the familiar Bud or Miller Lite, now they have multiplied.  Now, you might see a dozen or so handles in all kinds of shapes and sizes: sharks, spoked wheels, and skeletons.  These taps (or faucets as they are called in the industry) pour craft beer from Dogfish Head, Magic Hat and Rouge Brewery respectively.  Though not household names yet, these craft or microbreweries are slowly making inroads into a beer market dominated by just a few players.

A craft brewery is small, traditional and independent.  Of the 2000 breweries in the U.S.,  over 90 percent of them would be classified as craft brewers.  According to the American Brewers Association an American craft brewer is:

  • Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less. For comparison, Anheuser-Busch produced 160 million barrels in 2006. In 2008, they were acquired by the Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev, so recent production statistics for the A-B subsidiary may be hard to find.
  • Traditional: A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50 percent of its volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor. Major U.S. brands use corn and rice as adjuncts which are cheaper than malt and lighten the taste for American consumers.
  • Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.  Many familiar U.S. and imported beers you might see in the supermarket beer aisle are owned by A-B or Miller/Coors.  For example, A-B owns Shocktop, Michelob, Becks, Corona and many more.  Miller/Coors controls Bluemoon, Leinenkugel, Fosters, Molson and about two dozen others.

In fact, most of the brands sold in supermarkets and beverage centers are in some way tied to these two companies . True craft beer (the other 1800+ brewers) is slowly finding its way into some of the bars  and restaurants in Rockland.  Rockland even has its own microbrewery, .  Located in Pearl River,  Defiant has been serving fresh craft beer in their brewery and in the surrounding bars for six years. 

So if you find yourself in a bar this summer and see a tap handle that doesn’t look familiar, order a craft beer and see what all the buzz is about.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

—Mike Fitzgerald

You can “Like” Growler & Gill on Facebook to follow their progress or go to their web site


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