Until about 40 years ago, beer was simply beer, denominated by type. Most markets were dominated by large industrial-scale breweries, which often produced beers of uniform taste, which went from the light to the flavorless. Around 1980, in the United States, where this unfortunate tendency was particularly pronounced, beer lovers began to establish new breweries that sought to produce beers of character, of recaptured old styles or of new creation.
In this way was born the craft brewery, and an association of the sector set a definition to distinguish craft beer from industrial beer. In Italy where the “craft beer movement” arose about 15 years later, its association of the sector had its own definition. The principal points (which were drawn from a law of 1962) specified: breweries that were small and independent and did not use pasteurization or microfiltration during production. By convention the maximum annual volume could not exceed 8500 barrels. Recently a new law (concerning agriculture, of 6 July 2016, comma 4 bis of article 2) set forth the definition more completely and raised the maximum volume to 170,000 barrels. But this definition has also an ideological cast. The definition of the pioneers of craft beer, the American association, permits pasteurization and an annual volume of 6 million barrels. Moreover, many American breweries that began as small craft breweries were successful and grew to large industrial scale but continued to produce craft beers of great taste.
In all of this it is to be noted that there is no definition of industrial beer beyond that it is not craft beer. It is also ironical that almost all the productive techniques used today by craft breweries were developed by industrial breweries.