What’s the definition of small?

According to one dictionary, it means “little in size”, “not very important.”

Does small always mean the same thing? Of course not. If one more person talks about ‘small business’ for instance, I shall scream loud enough for you to hear me no matter where you are. If someone talks about a small bug, what exactly does that mean?

Small fruit or big tomatoes? Or something else all together?

Small fruit or big tomatoes? Or something else all together?

Like many if not most words in language, small is open to interpretation. It’s fraught with context, meaning, emotion, opportunity, vantage point and myriad other influencing factors.

Small in the beer enthusiast world is particularly vexing to me. It seems that ‘small’ seems like a top or better choice to many when it comes to peoples’ beers. Hmmmm….Small breweries can be the best and the worst. Best because the microcosm that is the business (if they see it that way) can give time and attention to parts of the business that may be overlooked by other ‘bigger’ businesses. Worst because being the chief brewer, bottle washer, server, and bill payer will stretch people too thin thereby rendering all tasks nominally completed, if completed at all. Never mind time frames or attention to quality.

See the slippery and ridiculous slope here?

Female beer consumers and buyers look at small in various ways. Some choose to think that ‘small’ means the actual size of the footprint of the business or the capacity of barrels of beer made or the number of staff on hand or square footage of the taproom. Some choose to think that once a brewery exceeds a certain capacity, say graduating to a regional brewery (14K barrels+ per annum), they decide the beer’s no longer worthy.


Small is a frame of mind. It’s only relative if you want to it be and you’ve chosen to define some sort of boundaries. The limits – or limitlessness – are yours to decide.

Here’s to unlimited. Everything is possible, small not withstanding.

Categories: Assumptions & Myth Busting, Something To Think About
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