Craft Beer And The Beer Industry

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From 2012 to 2014, the number of craft breweries in America has grown from 2,401 to 3,418, representing a 42% increase. (“Number of Breweries and Brewpubs in the U.S.”) Additionally, while US overall beer production fell 1.4% in 2013, craft beer production grew by 9.6% and now represents 7% of the total beer market. (Snider). The brewers association describes a craft brewer as small, meaning annual production of less than 6 million barrels of beer, independent, meaning less than 25% of the brewery is owned by non-craft brewers in the alcoholic beverage industry, and traditional, meaning the majority of beers derive flavor from traditional brewing ingredients and fermentation and further states that these beers tend to be more expensive than mainstream brews. (“Craft Brewer”)

The craft beer industry is rapidly increasing in size and the beers within it tend to be more expensive, but little academic research exists on the perceived quality of craft versus mainstream beers. Craft beer is widely seen as generally better than mainstream American beers such as Budweiser, Coors, and Miller, but no academic research exists to determine how expectations of differences between craft and mainstream beer based only on being labeled as “craft” can effect perceived quality and flavor.

People’s expectations have widely been shown to influence both flavor experiences and neural responding. Plassman and others (2008) demonstrated this using wine, by presenting wine to participants that
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