I’m old enough to remember when beer brewed by small local breweries was called microbrew. Pretty much everyone calls it “craft beer” these days, in large part to branding efforts by the Brewers Association that started over ten years ago.
If you check out the Google search trends data comparing the frequency of searches for “microbrew” and “craft beer” searches, you’ll find “microbrew” was slightly more prevalent starting in 2004 when Google first compiled this data. But in early 2010, “craft beer” became more common in Google searches by early 2010. Sharp eyed readers will note spikes in the frequency for “craft beer” searches in May of each year. I suspect this is due to the Brewers Association Celebration of Craft Beer Week which has occurred each May since 2006.
It’s worth noting the Brewers Association changed their definition of “craft brewer” in late 2010 and the Brewers Association notorious craft vs. crafty declaration was issued a couple years later. You would have to think these actions at least reinforced this trend that was already set in motion in the late “aughts”. Whatever you want to say about the Brewers Association strategy to label their member breweries “craft breweries” that produce “craft beer”, you have to say they were very successful at creating this linguistic shift.