Brewpub, brewery, craft beer, microbrew — we hear these terms bandied about in conversations about Michigan’s beer scene, but what do they mean? The answer, it seems, depends on who you ask.
For licensing purposes, the state of Michigan divides breweries into three categories: brewpub, micro brewer and brewer.
Brewpub: A brewery that produces less than 18,000 barrels (558,000 gallons) per year.
Micro brewer: A brewery that produces between 18,000 barrels and 60,000 barrels (1.86 million gallons) per year.
Brewer: A brewery that produces more than 60,000 barrels of beer.
The Brewers Association, a trade association that represents small and independent breweries, uses a different scale.
Microbrewery: A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year with 75 percent or more of its beer sold off-site.
(Examples: BAD Brewing Co., Arcadia Brewing Co.)
Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar.
(Examples: EagleMonk Pub and Brewery, Harpers Restaurant and Brewpub, Keewenaw Brewing Co.)
Regional Brewery: A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6 million barrels.
(Examples: Bell’s Brewery, Founders Brewing Co., Short’s Brewing Co. Boston Beer Co. aka Samuel Adams Brewery)
A brewery with an annual beer production over 6,000,000 barrels.
(Examples: MillerCoors, LLC; Anheuser-Busch InBev)
Then there’s that term, “craft beer.” As ubiquitous as it is unspecific, the term generally describes beers made by small, independently owned breweries. The Brewers Association tries to at least partially quantify craft beer breweries using three criteria: size (annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less), independence (less than 25 percent of the brewery owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer) and the subjective idea of tradition — “a majority of total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation,” according to its website.