What’s the Difference Between Craft Beer and Domestic Beer?

 In Beer-ducation

craft beer

Let’s be real, many of us have had the experience when we’re selecting our first beer at a bar or when we are tasked with bringing  beers to the party and we accidentally bring a domestic beer. With scrunched up faces and raised eyebrows we get the response, “oh, you brought that beer?” How was I supposed to know it was made by a Big Beer company?! Often we are faced with the choice: craft beer or domestic beer. And sometimes it can be super confusing! Soo….  what is the difference between a craft beer and domestic beer anyway?

Typically, when it comes to beers, you are presented with these two options. While both are classified as part of the same family, they are completely different.

Let’s break down the difference between the two.

Craft Beer vs. Domestic Beer

Craft Beer

The craft beer scene is on fire! There are tons of awesome craft beers coming from local breweries around the country. So, what is craft beer? First off, it can seem intimidating, and you’re not alone. Trying to figure out the difference between lagers and ales or even pronouncing some of the beer names can be confusing. To put it simply, to earn the “craft beer” title, breweries must maintain three qualities:

  1. Small
  2. Independent
  3. Traditional

– “Small” means the brewery distributes no more than six million barrels of beer peryear.

-“Independent” means that less than 25 percent of the brewery is owned by a non-craft beer brewery

-“Traditional” means that the majority of the brewery’s output consists of “beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.”


Check out these two interesting facts about the craft beer industry:

  • America now has a record-high of 5,000 craft beer breweries and counting
  • The retail dollar sales of craft beer in the United States is $23.5 billion

Here are some craft beers you may be familiar with:

  • Samuel Adams
  • New Belgium Brewing
  • Dogfish Head
  • Sierra Nevada


  • Light pale colors to deep, rich ambers and darks
  • When pouring a craft beer into a glass, they can produce a nice head of beer and keep the carbonation to provide a crisp look and taste.


  • Craft beer can contain many more ingredients than traditional domestic beers
  • Craft beer can take on various notes. Some examples may include chocolate, floral hops, grapefruit, lemon, spice, coffee, caramel, oak, coriander, hazelnut, orange and much more.
  • The tastes and aromas in craft beers are brought out by using specific personalized glasses and temperatures.
  • Craft beer is served at specific temperatures usually ranging from 50-55 degrees. This allows any of its notes and flavors to be brought out in the beer.

How It’s Made

  • Craft beer is brewed using specific hand selected ingredients. Every single ingredient is chosen with certain flavor characteristics in mind and brewed with the end goal of a delicious, flavorful, quality beer.

Domestic Beer

Domestic beers are beers that are brewed in the United States and could be considered the “big dog” or “big beer” of breweries. Here is a short list of some of the most popular domestic beer brands that you probably will recognize:

  • Budweiser
  • Miller
  • PBR
  • Michelob
  • Coors


  • Lighter to medium color yellow
  • When you pour domestic beers into a glass, the carbonation quickly dissipates and the head of the beer doesn’t last long.


  • Domestic beer tends to have a monotone flavor palate
  • Domestic beers are served as cold as possible

How It’s Made

  • Domestic beer tend to be made with cheap ingredients such as rice to make the beer inexpensive

Craft Beer Bonus Tip:

Real craft beer can be hard to find, but guess what? There’s an app for that. Check out Craft Check—an app that tells you if your bottle is a craft beer or not by scanning the barcode.


Greenwood Brewing has passion for great craft beer along with the meaningful conversations and stories that it creates. Try one of our signature brews; we’d be honored to be part of your story.

















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