Over the past twenty years there has been rapid change within the Beverage Industry. In addition to take over and mergers within the large manufacturers such as the Molson â€“ Coors merger of 2005. There has been a birth and rapid growth of a new market within the Beverage Industry known as the Craft Brewer or Craft Distiller. In 1979 there was 89 breweries in the US. By 2013 this number increased to 2,416 breweries in the US, of which 1,139 were considered Craft Breweries. According to the American Distilling Institute, there was roughly 50 micro distilleries operating within the US in 2005. Over the last 10 years that number has grown to over 300.
A recent trend has been for large distillers, such as the owners of the famous Bourbon Makers Mark. To create their own craft distillery within their current facility using purposely purchased small stills to compete for this market. What makes a Craft Distiller? In order to qualify as a Craft Distiller, a distillery should not produce more than 100,000 litres of alcohol per year in Canada. Or 100,000 gallons of alcohol per year in the US.
From time to time we receive questions from members of the community regarding the kashrus status of particular types of Alcoholic Beverages. Having visited over a dozen craft distilleries over the past couple of years from Kelowna to Vancouver Island. We can tell you that there are many kashrus issues that affect the kosher status of unflavoured brands of Vodka, Gin or Rye. These issues would not have arisen 20 years ago. It is common for small craft distilleries to produce many different kinds of products including various kinds of Non-Kosher Brandy. Brandy is produced by distilling grape based wine. There are also distilleries that distill wine for commercial wineries. Most distilleries do not want their stillâ€™s sitting idle, therefore they are happy to distill product for a customer that may be not Kosher. It is also common that the stills used for the distillation process are purchased used. It is also possible that during the production process of Rye or Blended Whisky that wine is blended in to add flavour to the Whisky.
It is common for Craft Breweries and Breweries in general to experiment. Most Recently Molson produced a limited release beer named 1908, a beer derived from a recipe found in the companies archives. Craft Breweries will also produce seasonal beers such as a Chocolate flavoured beer or Milk Stout during the winter months. These will both pose a kashrus concern since the use of dairy will change the status of all the other pareve beers. It is also common that flavours are added to beers to increase the taste. These can be produced from both Kosher and Non Kosher sources such as Carmine. Some Craft Breweries have started to age beer in used wine casks posing another issue. The main concern with beer is generally the processing equipment. Many companies use the same equipment to produce numerous products. If a company produces unflavoured beer on the same equipment as non-kosher beer, the equipment may cause all beer produced to be non-kosher.
Kosher Check recommends purchasing Craft Alcoholic Beverages from only Kosher Certified Craft Distilleries and Craft Breweries. Kosher Check is Proud to certify the following Craft Beverage companies Kosher within British Columbia.
Howe Sound Brewing
Shelter Point Distillery
Odd Society Distillery