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What's the difference between a brewpub, gastropub, microbrewery and craft brewery?

Oct. 28, 2021

Throughout the rich history of pubs, taverns and bars, changes and updates have created a new environment for enjoying beer. We'll help you understand the differences between the many types of breweries and bars that have emerged over the past few decades. 

Brewing Equipment


What is a brewpub?

In states where brewers can sell their products directly to consumers without a middleman, they can establish what is called a beer bar. brewpub is defined as a combination of a brewery and a bar, serving beer that comes directly from the brewery. A business can only be designated as a brewpub if 25% or more of the beer is sold on site. 

Brewpubs have the unique advantage of dispensing beer directly from the brewery's storage tanks. These large tanks are often used as the aesthetic cornerstone of a business because of their undeniable industrial visual appeal. The presence of tanks also provides an authentic atmosphere that many consumers appreciate when embracing the spirit of craft beer. brewpub setups often showcase how beer is brewed and the technical skills needed to produce a quality beverage. 

Where legal, many brewpubs operate a takeaway service with growers and do some distribution in off-site locations to build their brand.


What is a gastropub?

A gastropub is the latest version of the tried and true bistro and tavern. the difference between a gastropub and a brewpub is the focus on food. The nickname comes from the practice or art of adding "gourmet", the practice of cooking and eating quality food, to the familiar bar scene. This trend began in the 1980s and 90s as the "gourmet" culture began to take root. Bars began to realize that if people were flocking to breweries for a unique beer experience, they might also enjoy combining it with a unique food experience. 

The first true, self-proclaimed gastropub was The Eagle, which debuted in London in 1991, and instead of the usual fried food menu and less-than-exceptional British pub service, The Eagle offered a novel and exciting experience that combined food with innovative premium beers. 


What is a microbrewery?

Microbreweries produce less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year, 75% or more of which must be served off-site. Unfortunately, many people are unsure of the term, and people often use "microbrewery" to refer to any business that brews craft beer. The only difference between a craft brewery and a microbrewery is size. A craft brewery does not necessarily indicate a small brewery, although many small breweries do brew craft beer. Again, a small brewery must still meet craft beer standards to be a craft brewery. 

There is also a term "nano-brewery" that is similar to the definition of a microbrewery in terms of its focus on craft beer. However, there are no specific production volumes or limits for nano-breweries. Typically, the term is used to refer to a brewery that is operated by only one or two brewers. Like microbreweries, nano-breweries can sell their beer in a three-tier, two-tier or direct sales structure. 

As long as you do know the output of the brewers, you can't incorrectly refer to the brewing portion of a brewpub as a microbrewery.


What is a craft brewery?

By definition, a craft brewery is an independent brewery. A brewery of this size produces a much smaller quantity of beer than its larger corporate counterparts. The term "craft" relates to the fact that these breweries emphasize quality beer and tend to view beer production as an art form driven by passion and fine technique. The following are some of the key characteristics of craft breweries.


▷ Craft brewers are small and independent, without any substantial guidance from non-craft brewers.

▷ The hallmark of a craft brewery is innovation.

▷ Craft brewers offer new interpretations of historical styles as well as new beer styles never seen before.

Craft beer is based on traditional ingredients and often includes the provision of distinctive, non-traditional ingredients. 

▷ Craft brewers are often closely associated with the local community, offering philanthropy, donations, volunteer and event sponsorship.

▷ Craft brewers often like to connect with their customers in a personal and unique way. 


Many people believe that they can always distinguish craft beer from beer produced by larger breweries, which has a lighter, blander taste. There's no real way to identify craft beer other than looking at the brewery that created it, but there are a few differences that can make craft beer stand out in a positive way


▷ Appearance: You may have noticed that mass-produced beers usually have the same buff color and the head dissolves off quickly when you pour it into a glass. Craft beers come in a surprising array of colors, and depending on how they are brewed, their heads look better, last longer, and taste better.

▷ Taste: Because mass-produced beer must remain homogeneous, they often taste very bland and tasteless - that's why they are as cold as possible. Craft beers have a more nuanced flavor profile, which usually occurs at higher temperatures.

▷ Production: Macrobrewers produce for money, which indicates that they use cheaper ingredients to reduce production costs and finished products. Many macrobrewers used to use traditional hops and now they substitute rice or corn as a way to reduce costs. 


Craft breweries are defined by their commitment to quality ingredients, including novelty and tradition, and brewing techniques aimed at maximizing flavor and aroma rather than profit. 

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