The term microbrewery originally originated in the United Kingdom during the late 1970s. Though it was originally used to reflect on the size of the breweries, it gradually came to reflect a different attitude and approach to adaptability, flexibility, experimentation, and customer service. The term eventually spread to the United States, where it was eventually used to indicate a brewery that produces no less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year. The term microbrewery is now falling out of touch in the United States, as the term craft brewer is preferred.
Cold Beer, Anyone?
During the early twentieth century, prohibition drove a majority of the breweries into bankruptcy because they couldn’t rely on selling bogus wine as wineries of that era previously did. After going through several decades of consolidation of breweries, most commercial American beer produced by a few large companies, resulting in a mild tasting lager of which Budweiser is a great example. Some beer drinks will consequently crave a variety and turn to home-brewing and eventually start doing it on a much larger scale. When they need inspiration they’ll turn to Britain, Germany, and Belgium where centuries old tradition of artisan beer and cask ale production have never died out.
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The popularity behind these products was the fact that they trend was spread quickly, and hundreds of smaller breweries popped up, attached to a bar where the product could be enjoyed by all. As micro-brews gained in popularity, some became more than just simple microbrews, as they catered to a broader range of beer.
Normally, American microbreweries will distribute through wholesalers in traditional three tier systems, then act as their own distributor and sell to retailers. Selling includes tap rooms, restaurants, or even off premise sales.