The craft beer industry is defined by four very distinct markets: brewpubs, microbreweries, regional craft breweries and contract brewing companies.
It can mean different things to different beer lovers and enthusiasts, but everyone can agree that they are local or regional small-batch beers.
The Brewer's Association defines an American craft brewer as small, independent and traditional.
Small referring to an annual production of
6 million barrels of beer or less. A barrel is equivalent to two kegs of beer.
Independent meaning less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.
Traditional meaning a brewer who has either an all-malt flagship 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.
The craft beer community has grown to its largest point yet.
There were more than 2,347 craft breweries in 2012, reaching its highest amount since before Prohibition.
With all of these breweries popping up all over the place, many people ask, "Can we all get along?"
The answer is yes, absolutely!
The incredible and unique stance the craft industry takes on this is simply that rising tide lifts all boats. It's an industry that supports and works together to create awareness for the trade we love.
We are thrilled to be able to unite and brew original collaboration beers with the many talented individuals across the board.
Every brewer has a unique style and personality that shows in their brew.
These brewers take classic and historic styles and put a unique spin to develop new styles that have no precedent.
Each brewer maintains the integrity of every ingredient - it's a labor of love.
A great example of this unique community is this past Craft Brewer's Conference in Washington, D.C., which brought together more than 6,500 craft brewing professionals to celebrate and converse about "America's ever-growing craft beer culture."
A record 233 small and independent American brewery owners and brewers, representing 215 craft breweries and 46 states, climbed the steps of the United States Capitol.
Together, they met with the congressional staff to discuss their stories, successes and failures, and to show their passion to the legislators who can push for more supporting laws in the industry.
So who is the competition? That would be the big guys.
Our goal is to target competitors like Bud, Miller or Coors and to try and convert you to the craft beer side.
Recently, we've seen a move from the Big Beer guys (SABMiller, Anheuser-Bush InBev) to begin to imitate and "blur the lines" between craft beer and what the industry now calls "crafty beer."
If you are sitting at a bar looking for a craft brew, you may see Shock Top, Blue Moon or Third Shift.
You've probably seen tons of ads and commercials for these beers, as well.
They may seem to emulate a craft beer, but truthfully, these brands belong to "Big Beer."
Blue Moon is made by SABMILLER, Shock Top is made by Anheuser-Bush InBev and Third Shift is made by MillerCoors.
This goes to show the impact the craft beer industry has made over the past several years.
People are turning away from the idea of drinking mass-produced light beers and moving toward buying smaller quantities of unique craft beers that show the innovation and passion of the brewer.
Also, craft beers highlight the complex ingredients involved in the brew instead of watering them down.
You should expect more from your beer!
You have so many choices and styles - and different beers for different seasons.
Look at places in Savannah such as World of Beer, Distillery and Green Truck. These are craft beer meccas with tons of varieties and tastes to explore.
Every brewery you have enjoyed a beer from started off small, and drinking local beer encourages new job growth and bolsters the local economy.
You know it's fresh when it's coming from a local brewery.
You will always see a "born on" date showing the 90-day period of freshness given to your craft beer.
This ensures the brew will taste exactly as it was intended by the brewer.
Did you know the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery?
Well, you live around three.
Southbound will be the newest production-only microbrewery in town.
Moon River is about to celebrate 14 years of brewing here in Savannah as the original brewpub and microbrewery of the Historic District.
Coastal Empire is a contract brewery creating back-to-back winning brews at the Savannah Craft Beer festival, and will soon have a location in the Hostess City.
With all of these fantastic local options, you have no excuse.
Take a walk on the craft side - we guarantee you will love it.
Smith Mathews (brewmaster) and Carly Wiggins (marketing director) are the founders of Southbound Brewing Company, Savannah's only production microbrewery. Go to southboundbrewingco.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.