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Remember When Craft Beer Used to Just Be About the Beer, Man?

Craft brewers weathered the recession better than expected.

Craft brewers weathered the recession better than expected.Photo: Collin Keefe

The latest buzz bubbling up from the craft-beer world comes as a mixed blessing. The good news: The industry not only survived the catastrophic global recession, it actually grew, Motley Fool reports. Seems when purse strings get pinched, the economically downtrodden in America choose quality over quantity when self-medicating. While the BudMillerCoors Goliaths saw sales shrink by as much as 3 percent in recent years, craft brewers experienced a 12 percent increase two years in a row. Such growth has even forced the trade group Brewers Association to amend its bylaws this year, because Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams, has gotten too big to officially be considered a craft brewery. The bad news: With growth comes inevitable talk of money, money, money.

Of course, that leads to further scrutiny from dyed-in-the-wool craft-beer devotees. Like Boston Beer Company, Brooklyn Brewery has outgrown not only the definition of a craft brewery, but the actual four walls of its home base. When it opened an annex earlier this week, some questioned whether it lost its bearings. Several bars in the shadow of the new facility have even stopped pouring Brooklyn beers, replacing them with brews from other smaller breweries.

If anything all this shows that success has its costs. As profitability, growth, and investment opportunities replace talk of hop varieties, malt character, and ABV in the craft-beer conversation, the movement shifts further from being all about passionate artisans brewing up some kick-ass beers.

So, if once-small craft brewers are growing into titans, who are the new torch-bearers of the craft movement's DIY origins?

Good Beer Leads to Good Profits [Motley Fool]

Earlier: Tom Potter on Why Brooklyn Brewery Is Still Relevant in Its Home Borough

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