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What makes a brewery world class?

This email arrived about the time the European Beer Star award winners were announced and various discussions about innovation broke out.

At what point does a brewery become World Class? If you win a gold medal at the GABF does that make you a World Class Brewery? World Class Brewer (the dude or dudette)? Or brewer of “a” World Class Beer?

My response was, well, flip.

Can a brewpub be world class? Can beer brewed in Eden, NC, be world class? Is Orval (with just one beer) world class? Can you be world class if you brew for the working class? Is it like Michelen stars – lose a star and fall out of world class? Are there a set number of world class breweries? So if Caldera (note: Caldera had just cleaned up in the Beer Star awards) gets promoted somebody else gets demoted?

Andy’s comment about Michael Jackson’s 1982 list of 5-star beers — “Given the evolution in beer and beer styles, as well as the explosion in American Craft Brewing creativity, I wonder how his list would be different if he were around to do it again.” — got me thinking about it again.

So far I’ve managed to think of even more questions, but not to many answers.

I welcome your suggestions.


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