CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lauren Sandberg isn't a brewmaster at Morgantown Brewing Co., but she has helped carry bags of grain, stirred the mashed grains in barrels and still physically felt her hard work three days later.
The marketing director at the Morgantown-based brewpub said handcrafted beers found at craft breweries are exactly that -- crafted by hand.
"Big breweries like Budweiser, all they have to do is flip a switch and everything happens," Sandberg said. "Our brewmasters add the grain themselves and stir it by hand. It's actually physical labor done by hand and it's difficult."
The craft brewing industry is becoming "more and more popular" because of this attention to detail, Sandberg said.
There were more than 2,300 American craft breweries that operated for some or all of last year, nearly 400 breweries more than in 2011, according to the Brewers Association, a national organization that represents small and independent craft breweries.
There are five breweries in West Virginia.
More than 108,000 craft brewers work in an industry that grew its volume by 15 percent and sales by 17 percent last year from 2011.
Two brewers, a master and an assistant, make the batches at Morgantown Brewing Co., the state's oldest operating brewery.
One Onion, the state's first brewpub -- a restaurant and brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on site -- opened in 1992, one year after a law passed in West Virginia that allowed beer to be brewed and sold in the same place.
The brewery has gone through a few owners and name changes, but its current brewers still use the same mash tuns, fermenters and tanks as the original owners.
Morgantown Brewing president and co-owner Art Gallagher has expanded the brewery since he purchased the business in 2009.
While the former owners had only four beers on tap, Morgantown Brewing has 10 beers to taste at a time, Sandberg said.
The beers can be found in bars across the state, but they are most known for their presence in West Virginia University's football stadium.
When InBev bought Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion in 2008 to become the world's largest brewer, Sandberg said the majority of craft brewers probably weren't concerned. While the leading global brewer sells brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and LandShark, drinkers want more diversity, Sandberg said.
People are tired of the "same old, same old" big-market beers because "they are all light in color and taste the same," she said.
"You don't want to go to a brewery and drink a Bud Light," Sandberg said. "Our Alpha Blonde is the gateway to craft beers. It's cool opening doors for people and having a little blonde college student who typically wants a cranberry and vodka drinking the Alpha Blonde because she thinks it's awesome."
Bridge Brew Works co-owner Nathan Herrold said he and business partner Ken Linch don't brew anything that they wouldn't drink themselves.