Craft Beer vs Commercial Beer: What Sets Them Apart?
For all the beer lovers out there, you know how it feels to taste a good beer. Not only quenching your thirst but having that cool, smooth, and velvety texture strike your tongue before going further down to “hit the spot,” so to say.
It’s surprising to see individuals make statements like “all beers taste the same,” when beer can be crafted into a wide variety of flavours and also to be brewed locally. More breweries are being built and founded yearly, and fortunately, there are some great breweries to be found in Singapore.
However, let's get back to the main essence of beer and talk about an unending argument among beer enthusiasts; craft beer vs commercial beer. If you've never had this argument, then it's either you've picked a side or haven’t explored the differences. Either way, this article will pique your interest and arrive at the most convincing conclusion. Let's begin with the basic questions.
What is Craft Beer?
Think of craft beer as what an artist would do if they knew how to brew. Craft beer is beer usually brewed by local, independent breweries. This way they aren’t focused on large distribution and global domination, they are more focused on experimenting and creating unique flavours for the customers.
Craft beers are traditionally made using high-quality ingredients to wow your taste buds, with a more distinct, unique flavour. It doesn’t stop there though, the outside is just as important, with many craft breweries working with independent designers or artists to make the cans pop. Just look at these beauties;
What is Commercial Beer?
Commercial beers are beers sold by large-scale breweries. They have a consistent recipe and process in order to achieve mass distribution and satisfaction. They are a typical representation of the baseline for beers. However, that’s not to say they aren’t nice or there isn’t a time and a place for them! You can still get some really enjoyable commercial beers, and they could also have a wide variety of flavours.
6 Things That Differentiate Craft Beer and Commercial Beer
You’ll probably never believe it if the answer to which beer was better was written point blank, and that was never going to be the case in this article. Instead, we are going to take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each beer and see what sets them apart. To do this we have chosen 6 varying factors to go through and compare head to head.
A. Variety vs Availability
At this level, ask yourself what you would prefer; to have different flavours to try out or to be able to find your favourite beer anytime and anywhere in the world.
As mentioned earlier, both craft beer and commercial beer have varieties and different flavours to pick from. However, the difference is in the numbers. Due to the large distribution required of commercial beer, most of them focus on having a certain consistency that won’t be altered, and this can be endangered by experimenting with different ingredients or flavours.
On the flipside, the independent breweries that provide craft beer don’t have that weight on their shoulder. Consequently, they can experiment with beer styles and ingredients much more and as a result, there is a wider variety of craft beer. This also reflects their colour, strength, and aroma differences. There are so many that they can be grouped by style, brewery, flavour, and several other variables. Here’s an example of possible style classifications of craft beer.
What commercial beers may lack in variety they make up for in availability. You could decide to pick up your bags and travel 5 countries away and there is an extremely high chance you will still find your favourite commercial beer there. The whole structure of the large-scale companies involved in making commercial beers is focused on getting them to as many places as possible.
However, craft beers are not always just city-based or country-based. In fact, craft beer breweries are now spreading their wings and trying to be in as many places as possible. There is a sliding scale, some breweries focus on supplying their town or city, and some you can find in different areas of the world. What you can’t deny though, is that you can travel pretty much anywhere in the world and have a beer that you’ve never had before - and that is one of the reasons why we love craft beer.
Here’s a good example of a craft beer company that now has limited distribution to Singapore having started up in the UK.
B. Affordability vs Quality
On a general scale, one of the beers is pricier. However, there’s a good reason as to why. It’s up to you to decide what you prefer from your drink.
Some people pick their side in the argument by looking at which beer is cheaper. Although different factors come in when comparing beer prices, when it comes down to it, commercial beer wins this one. Commercial beers are produced on a large scale and this helps to cut the cost of production which, in turn, helps make it cheaper. This provides a good partnership with its global availability.
Craft beers can be multiple times higher in their price. They are more expensive than their beer counterpart, but for good reason. The scale is smaller, the experimentation is higher and they invest in using high-quality ingredients in production. The innovation put into craft beers is the reason it is more expensive but is also the reason why they have a wide variety and the unique result is what keeps many coming back to their favourite craft beer.
As expected, the time, dedication, and intentionality that goes into making craft beer delivers a high-quality product. In the production of craft beers, the ingredients of the highest quality are used in order to produce a fine finish. This quality is maintained throughout the many combinations and unique flavours available. As you take a cold can of craft beer and taste a new flavour, rest assured that the quality is optimum.
This is not to say that commercial beers are made without the thought of giving the customer quality. The work that goes into brewing craft beers is just very coordinated. This confidence that craft beer gives you is exactly why they are always worth the price tag, and it’s also why they are still displayed and selling strongly in several local craft beer bars in Singapore.
C. Alcohol Content vs Alcohol Consistency
This goes back to the consistency vs experimentation debate! Commercial beers are brewed to a consistent recipe and result, whereas craft beers are experimenting with the thousands of beer styles that exist.
The production of commercial beer focuses on a stable recipe that as many people as possible can drink, and drink a lot of it! There are commercial beers that have an ABV of up to 6% but most that you will find in the bar are usually around 5% and below.
However, it’s not all about quantity. Craft brewers work on perfecting many styles and as a result, there is a wide range of strength. The minimum ABV of craft beers can be as low as 0.5-3% and you can even get some as high as 12%. That’s bound to take the edge off. Some examples of lower ABV beers are pale ales or session IPAs, whereas a typical example of a high-kicking craft beer is the imperial stout, adequately described here by Quality Drops Beer.
Commercial breweries have nailed their process and ingredients so they can achieve the same strength every time. The craft brewing process, although an exact science, can be affected by many factors internal and external to the beer. Sometimes this can lead to unexpected changes in strength or variation in the process. Commercial beer breweries focus on not letting any of these factors have an effect, as they maintain a consistent level in all their beers.
Which Beer is Best?
The big question returns, which is best between craft beer and commercial beer? After all that has been discussed today, the answer is pretty obvious, but let’s spell it out; it depends on your preference!
You can easily decide which you think is best by looking at all the factors discussed. When you take your beer what do you prioritise? Are you loyal to one specific taste or do you want to try something different once in a while? Do you want your beer available no matter where you go or do you want to have something that satisfies all your taste needs? Do you mind different strength levels or do you want a constant level? Once you can answer these questions, you probably will have made your choice in a best 2 out of 3 scenario.
And if you still have a dilemma, maybe you don't need to choose. Maybe you just need to enjoy and appreciate the relaxing taste of any cold beer you come across. The thing we find fun about craft beer is that it’s a never-ending exploration. There’s a whole world of beer out there, thousands of breweries and styles which means you can theoretically never have the same beer twice!
Craft beers are evolving. Research shows that they have a future of newer experimentation and higher quality products, as well as an increase in distribution to other countries. Place your order now to get some of the finest quality craft beers like pale ales and lagers available in Singapore and made from some of the best breweries in the world. Be it for your home pleasure or to stock up your bar, Quality Drops Beer has got you. Browse through our list of craft beers and grab your favourite today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Craft Beer and Commercial Beer
What is the difference between craft beer and commercial beer?
The major differences between craft beer and commercial beer include their production and priority during production. Craft beers are usually produced on a small scale and in doing so, prioritize quality, variety, and creativity. Commercial beers are produced on a larger scale and focus on mass distribution.
Does commercial beer taste bad?
No, commercial beer can have a wide variety of flavours too. However, they strive for consistency and aren’t as diverse as craft beer flavours.
Where can I get craft beer in Singapore?
There are several places where you can get good craft beer in Singapore. They can be found in several beer bars, brewpubs, speciality shops, and in some restaurants. You can also place your single or bulk orders for quality craft beers on our webshop. Simple and easy!
Are craft beers better than commercial beers?
There is no definitive answer to this question. The better beer depends on the drinker or the drinker’s mood. Craft beer enthusiasts prefer it because of its flavour and variety, while commercial beer enthusiasts appreciate the simple and consistent nature of commercial beers.
We drank lots of commercial beers but as soon as we started exploring more and more that the world of craft beer had to offer. And here we are now!