What Makes A Craft Beer?

Andy Calimano, one of the producers of the Philadelphia Craft Beer Festival, talks about about craft beers and the idea that they are not considered craft once the brewer exceeds 2 million barrels annually.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

Sam Adams, a regional brew made by the Boston Beer Company and named for a founding father, is probably the most successful craft beer in the country. So successful, you have to wonder: Can a beer that sells about 2 million barrels a year still be considered a craft brew?

Andy Calimano is the producer of the annual Philly Craft Beer Festival. He joins us from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. ANDY CALIMANO (Philly Craft Beer Festival): Thank you very much.

SIMON: The Brewers Association says by definition, a craft beer must have an output of less than 2 million barrels a year. Is it as simple as that?

Mr. CALIMANO: I dont think it's simple as that at all. I think when they put the number 2 million, they didnt realize that someday, a craft brewer would make it up to 2 million.

SIMON: So I mean, what is a craft beer, as far you're concerned?

Mr. CALIMANO: I think craft beer is beer thats brewed in batches with the finest quality ingredients, and is done on a limited basis. For example, with Sam Adams, theyve got over 30 different varieties of beer that are either seasonal or have limited editions.

SIMON: We should note, Senator Kerry of Massachusetts and Mike Crapo of Idaho have submitted a bill that would increase the production limit for craft breweries(ph) while cutting their taxes. You think this is a good idea?

Mr. CALIMANO: I think it's a really good idea. I think especially for the brewers that produce less than 60,000 barrels, the bill is to cut it in half -from $7 to $3.50. For a lot of small craft brewers, when they're first getting started, that would be an economic boom for them in terms of giving them the capabilities to brew more.

If you see the trend now, a lot of people are drinking local. Local breweries are hiring more people. They're farming out their ingredients locally. So I think it's a wise move, especially for small brewers that are just starting out.

SIMON: So if Sam Adams or any other craft beer were to not be labeled a craft beer, would people think they were just like - well, we can say this in Public Broadcasting - just like Schlitz or Budweiser? If they're generous underwriters, forgive me.

Mr. CALIMANO: I think Budweiser is a good beer. I think all beers are good. It's just depending on what you decide you want to drink. I dont just because it hits a number, you're going to change your opinion. Theyve produced two million and one barrels of beer - that craft label isnt going to go away.

SIMON: Mr. Calimano, have you swigged all these beers you're mentioning to us?

Mr. CALIMANO: Not all of them. I've tried.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CALIMANO: But they keep coming out with more and more of them. So it's it's a nice challenge, though.

SIMON: Thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. CALIMANO: Oh, you're welcome. Thank you very much.

SIMON: Andy Calimano, producer of the annul Philly Craft Beer Festival. And this is NPR News.

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