In talking about beer and the brewing of the same, a lot of different names and designations pop up that are too often simply blended into one. A brewery is a brewery \u2014 or so one might think. Not so. Not so at all. While every microbrewery might, indeed, be a brewery, the opposite is not true. Not every brewery is a microbrewery, a craft brewery, or a brewpub. The differences are simple, but they are also many. And they are important \u2014 especially since most of the brews discussed in this column will be coming from microbreweries and craft breweries, and very rarely from what I call corporate breweries. Yes. I admit it. I\u2019m a brew snob. So ... here we go. A microbrewery is a brewery that turns out a pretty limited amount of beer. There are also other criteria for being a recognized microbrewery \u2014 some official and some unofficial. There are specific guidelines for the categorizing of brewing operations laid down by the American Brewers Association, but although widely appreciated and respected, this organization doesn\u2019t carry any regulatory muscle. Nevertheless, the ABA has defined \u201ccraft breweries\u201d as those producing less that 6,000,000 barrels of beer per year. That may seem like a lot of beer, but consider if you will that Budweiser churns out more than 125 million barrels per year. That\u2019s a lot of suds. To be classified as an independent brewery, an American \u201ccraft brewery\u201d must be more than 75 percent privately owned (that is to say, less than 25 percent owned by a big alcohol production company). Now we get into microbreweries. Frankly, this is the type of brewery near and dear to my heart since they, (and brewpubs), are the folks turning out not only wonderful tasting beer but also innovative and imaginative offerings in the true spirit of the local brewers \u201cback in the day.\u201d Microbreweries produce less than 15,000 beer barrels per year. Dealing with these amounts allows brew masters to get artistic when it comes to recipes, and further allows them\u00a0 to change the recipe from batch to batch to improve or change the grain list or hops mixture. The result can be some astonishingly good brews. One of the most inspiring of the microbreweries is the brewpub. In a well organized brewpub, the brew master brews and sells only his or her beer (and generally ONLY his or her own beer) on site. This can make for a fine, fine, fine afternoon of sampling. (In some states, a brewpub can only sell three pints of their brew to any one customer \u2026 total. That\u2019s OK too. I heartily and enthusiastically endorse moderation in all things.) A brewpub and a microbrewery can be one and the same, if the brewpub also has distribution to the larger community. There are a few other brewery designations (such as regional craft brewery) but the three biggies in anyone\u2019s book are the three mentioned above. There used to be a lot of local breweries in the U.S. (read: microbreweries). As I mentioned in an earlier column, Prohibition in the 1920s virtually wiped out the local brewery business and following the rescinding of Prohibition the large breweries that survived and then thrived were virtually identical in taste and recipe. Bland. Yes. I said it. Bland. It was simply patronizing. The beer turned out for generations in the U.S. was uniform, neutral, and so lacking in integrity that two or three generations of beer drinkers in this country never knew they could do better for themselves. The Association of Brewers worked up a survey of brewing establishments and determined there were a total 1,482 craft breweries, 962 brewpub, and 456 microbreweries in the United States. I would guess that number literally grows daily. Today, even a mildly adventurous beer drinker can spend a year trying a new beer every day ... every day. Some find their favorite beer close to home, or on the shelves of the neighborhood market. Others may find their dream brew in some small town in Nevada. It\u2019s all good. The popularity of microbreweries, craft breweries, and brewpubs is growing as people discover that creating a new beer or ale can be achieved by doing more than shoving a piece of lemon into the neck of a already tired bottle of beer. I recently was asked if I\u2019d be reviewing the lime flavored version of a corporate brewery\u2019s standard fare. Nope. Creating fine tasting lagers or ales involves more than adding Kool-Aid flavoring to an already existing malt product. C\u2019mon friends!!! Get out and try the brews being turned out within driving distance of home, or the stuff that is being created in limited editions further afield, but is still available somewhere around the neighborhood. There is good brew out there. Something to talk about. Enjoy yourself. Here are a couple of new ones I\u2019ve tasted this past week. Sawtooth Ale Left Hand Brewing Company Longmont, Colo. A beautiful amber color. Rich and clean. Sawtooth is dark, but bright and clear. Pouring, one is rewarded with a nice head that holds well for a short period. Not too bold, the head slowly melts away to a creamy froth. An expressive glass of ale, with fine chains of bubbling, but nothing too dramatic. There is a slightly malty scent at first nose. Sawtooth is, however, a bit more expressive in the hops column. Not at all yeasty. There are hints of light fruits bordering on citrus with just a tinge of caramel smell but not burnt or overpowering. On first sip there is a hefty smack of hops. The hoppiness lingers. Malts are evident but well in the background. Sawtooth has a very intense flavor. Complex. This makes you pause and wonder a little about the blends. There are lots of question marks, and lots of hints \u2014 in a mysterious and good way. Surprisingly, there is little back taste of licorice (not strong) and suggestions of just a hint of citrus (just a bit tart). Despite lots going on in this brew, it is surprisingly refreshing and not at all aggressive. Sawtooth raises questions, but no doubts. This is a nice brew well worth the experiment. Not as assertive as some ales might be, this could complement a well grilled chicken dish nicely. Frankenmuth Pilsener Frankenmuth Brewery Frankenmuth Pouring this energetic pilsener, one finds a warm, light golden yellow brew. You simply can\u2019t get closer to an artist\u2019s \u201cyellow\u201d than this one. The drink holds a medium, fluffy head, clean and white. It is mildly effervescent, with steady but light bubbling. This Frankenmuth is exceptionally sharp, bright, and clear. Basic notes offer nothing overwhelming in elemental scents. If anything, there is an offering of sweetish apple, possibly a hint of pineapple. A wee bit cidery. Pay attention, gentle reader, this is a Treat or Treat for the nose. This pilsener offers a sweet burst in the mouth. I\u2019d suggest the sweetness will be less pronounced the more chilled this is served. The pronounced fruity scent also declares itself to the taste buds. There is an evolving taste of mild sweet hops as you move forward through the drink. The hops leave a distinct finish and linger longest. A pleasant, mildly zesty tern around the palate. Frankenmuth is a very nice pilsener. Very nice. As noted, the more chilled this is served, the better off it will be \u2014 a good tip for most pilseners and lagers. BUT ... a word to most American drinkers ... Chilled does not mean almost frozen, in a frozen glass. This pilsener is a fine complement to almost any beef dish, and would be great with or in a hearty beef stew. More on cooking with beer, especially ales, at a later date.