In the USA and Canada, as elsewhere, there are two classes of small brewers, namely amateur home brewers producing beer for private consumption and commercial microbrewers (including brewpub operators). Home brewing has a long history in America; during the period of prohibition in the USA, amateur production boomed (over 28 million barrels of home brew were made in 1928). Since home brewing remained illegal in the USA long after prohibition was abolished in 1933, only being permitted since 1979, little information was available on the subject. Growing interest in brewing, and especially in European beer types not produced by the big US brewers, led both to the legalisation of home brewing and the establishment of brewpubs and commercial microbreweries. The first microbrewery opened in 1977 in Sonoma, California. By 1983 the total for the USA and Canada was 12 small breweries, and by the time this paper was written it was over 220. Early difficulties were considerable; brewing equipment had to be specially made, or adapted from such things as dairy equipment; raw materials were difficult to obtain in quantities less than a railway waggon load; and quality control was often rather uncertain. The sophisticated laboratory testing facilities used by large breweries are often too expensive and complex. Many microbrewers rely on their natural senses and a few simple instruments, or send samples to outside laboratories (e.g. university science departments) for analysis. There is a need for improvement in the resources available to small brewers, in fields such as research and training as well as routine quality control. However, as small brewers have recently made a considerable impact on the public perception of beer in America, they are likely to play an important part in the future of the brewing community.
Keywords : equipment history home brewing legislation microbrewing public house quality control