When Is a Brewery Not a Brewery? (And Does it Matter?)

image01-mainBy Joe Stange

Who really makes that gorgeous liquid pouring out of that bottle? And if the contents are tasty, who cares?

There are 160 working breweries in Belgium, give or take — but if you believe what you read on beer labels, there are hundreds more. That’s because many of the companies that are conceiving, marketing and selling their beer brands are not, in fact, breweries. They are commissioners, or “beer firms”, hiring other breweries to make the stuff for them.

These beer firms run the gamut of sizes, shapes and intentions. Some are simple enthusiasts — tasting clubs or homebrewers who have their recipes professionally made. Many more are marketeers or salespeople with ideas for names and labels — and maybe even recipes — but no real brewing experience.

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