Macro Brewery vs. Micro Brewery vs. Craft Brewery — What is the Difference?

You’ve probably heard of the terms microbrewery, macrobrewery, and craft brewery, but do you fully understand the differences between them? Continue reading to learn how craft beers differ from macro beers and all the characteristics that are considered when classifying a brewery.

Macro Brewery vs. Micro Brewery vs. Craft Brewery — What is the Difference?

The titles micro-brewery, macro-brewery, and craft brewery are all terms used to describe a type of brewery. These brewery classifications are all used to differentiate a brewery’s beer production amount and the rules they must follow when brewing. Let’s get a little more in depth…


What is a Microbrewery?

The term micro-brewery describes the beer production amount. In order to be considered a micro-brewery, a brewery must follow a list of requirements.

  • A micro-brewery can produce no more than 15,000 barrels (or 460,000 US gallons) of beer per year.
  • According to The Brewers Association, a micro-brewery must sell 25% or more of their beer on site. This can be easy for micro-breweries as a lot of the double as a brewpub, restaurant, or bar.
  • Micro-breweries are mostly known for brewing “specialty beers”. They are primarily small-bath “boutique” beers, which are sometimes brewed only for a season or event, and usually crafted to showcase a special ingredient.

So, in short, a microbrewery is a brewery that produces less that 15,000 barrels of per year.



So What’s a Nano-Brewery?

A nano-brewery is a brewery that makes even less beer per year than a microbrewery, although there has not been a number of gallons/barrels defined yet in order to classify breweries as nano-breweries.


What is a Craft Brewery?

The term “craft brewery” was created to define micro-breweries that have grown into larger-scale breweries.

  • In order to be considered “craft”, a craft brewery must produce less than 6 million gallons per year.
  • A craft brewery must be owned independently. This means that 25% or more of the company is not owned by an outside party.
  • When a craft brewery brews their flagship beers, they must use traditional ingredients, such as malts, barley, water, yeast, and hops. If a craft brewery wishes to use adjuncts in their brewing, it must be for flavour profile purposes and not cost-cutting purposes like big macro-breweries do.



Craft Brewery vs. Microbrewery: Let’s Summarize…

A craft brewery and a micro-brewery are not the same thing. However, a craft brewery can be categorized as a micro-brewery if they brew less than 460,000 gallons a year. A micro-brewery can only be categorized as a craft brewery if it follows the craft brewing standards.

To read more about craft beer, and the craft brewing standards, click here.


What is a Macrobrewery?

A macro brewery is a large, national or international brewery that produces and distributes more than 6 million barrels of beer per year. Macrobrew is mass-produced beer that is brewed in very large quantities, which is why it generally sells for a cheaper price than craft beer.



Can you really taste the difference between macro beers and micro/craft beers?

Check out this video below where the guys from BAOS Podcast do a blind taste test of craft and macro lager beers. The beers they try are Coors Banquet, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Amsterdam Brewing‘s 3 Speed Lager, Common Good Beer Company‘s The Sociable Pilsner, and the Trailer Park Boys Freedom 35 Lager. Can they taste the difference? Watch to find out!


Microbrewery, Micro-Brewery or Micro Brewery?

To be honest, we’re not 100% sure. However, Google told us that it is one word, spelled microbrewery, but we’ve noticed a variety of spellings throughout brewery websites. Here at JustBeer, we are not the grammar/spelling police, so much as we are socially-savvy, search-engine friends and beer geeks who like to use all versions of microbrewery spellings. Cheers!


If you’re wanting to learn more about craft, micro, and macro beers and the beer industry, here are some links to get you started:

The Difference Between Pilsners & Lagers (Spoiler Alert! A Pilsner is a Lager!)
All About IPAs
List Of All The 2018 World Beer Cup Winners
Can You Salvage A Frozen Beer?

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