Microbrewing and microdistilling have been practiced for decades, but this entrepreneurial, creative approach to alcohol has been gaining traction in recent years. As part of the artisan food and drink movement, sommoliers and bartenders across the country have begun to pair beer and spirits with fine cuisine. The growth is such that major brands are joining in on the microdistillery and microbrewery trend, but it's also within reach of small businesses and even hobbyists. There are pros and cons to making beer and spirits at home, but you can partake as a homebrewer or craft brewery patron.
What Is Microbrewing?
Microbrewing is essentially brewing beer in small batches. While large beer companies employ a factory line process to brew the same recipe over and over, craft brewing uses a more hands-on approach. Though it doesn't produce as much, this model allows for innovation and experiments in the brewing process. Many microbreweries, such as Half Acre Beer Company in Chicago, have opened up taprooms in their breweries. Often brewers will serve their latest experiments, giving patrons a chance to test a new product or get an exclusive taste of a recipe that might never be bottled.
What Is Microdistilling?
Microdistilling is the process of distilling spirits in small batches. It's a more advanced and expensive process than making beer, so it's not as widespread as the microbrewery trend. It is, however, becoming more common as distilling on a smaller scale becomes legal. Many major distilleries, like High West Distillery in Park City, Utah and Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas, create their own smaller labels. Critics of microdistilling claim it's a practice that takes decades to perfect, and some believe that craft spirits may be inferior to the more well-known options on the market.
The "Micro" Movement
Microbrewers and distillers are dedicated to their craft of making beer and liquor. The ability to start a label and small business entices the entrepreneurial spirit of creatives. Rather than competing with major beer and liquor brands, microbreweries and distilleries focus on creating niche products and experiences. The small batch way of working allows brewers and distillers to play with ingredients, sometimes creating entirely new flavors. This means foodies and adventurous eaters flock to these businesses, eager to try something they've never tasted before.
DIY Microbrewing and Distilling
The trend of microbrewing and microdistilling is easy to turn into a do-it-yourself venture — you can buy kits or learn how to do it at home. Microbrewing, the simpler of the two, is best for beginners. Home distilling is more complicated, but makes for an excellent project if you're a dedicated whiskey aficionado who has the time, space and resources. The options for flavors and ingredients are endless, but be sure to check your state's homebrewing laws before you start.
One of the advantages of microbrewing and distilling is the ability to experiment with ingredients and flavors in small batches. Check out the micro-operations in your city to try something new, or look into brewing your own batch at home.
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