Thursday, 10 February 2011

craft beer why its right name?

In response to this request
I give you my thoughts.

Simple. I dislike it. In fact i dislike it a lot.

The problem is i dont think it means anything, or maybe i think it means too many things

Cooking lager posted this in the comments

"A distinctively flavored beer that is brewed and distributed regionally. Also called craft brew, microbrew."

as opposed to

"any beer which is allowed to ferment in the cask and which when served is pumped up without using carbon dioxide"

For me the Real ale is a definition, Its clear.
But the Craft beer definition has ambiguity. What is distinctly flavoured beer. Bud Chedla is pretty distinct.
What is a region. Many micro brewers in the UK, distribute nationally all be it they may sell more locally, and if you asked most people to name the main 'Craft brewer' in the UK? most people would probably say 'Brewdog' who sell to the US, Norway, Sweden ...

So moving away from the dictionary. How might i try to define 'Craft beer'
well question
1) can it include Real ale.  For me it should but would it for other, and if not why not. To exclude real ale implies that there is no 'craft' in brewing real ale. So lets assume it has to.
2) is it all Real ale. No probably not. Not all real ale is good or well made. Problem here is who decides on quality.
3) Do we make some distinction on brewery size. Well again. Its true that the biggest brewers tend to not produce a craft product. But that doesnt mean they cant and we should not refuse to accept craft whereever it exists. Are we going to eliminate White shield, Bass #1 or P2

I just cant word a definition that doesnt use words like 'good',  'flavoursome', or 'quality' and all these terms will mean different things to different people.

Even in the US they are struggling with what this means, and on the whole the closest i can gauge it means is not produced by a multi-national company. With discussion cropping up debating if brewers like Sierra Nevada or Boston beer company of Samuel Adams fame are craft brewer.

I think many of us blogging on the subject, will actually have a very similar gut feeling of what is and what isnt a craft beer, but i think that is because we all have the same frame of reference, but im not sure our definition is clear enough to be valid to people outside our reference.


  1. Nice last paragraph, which is important. It'd be good to have a definition of what it really is but I also don't think it necessarily needs one. For me, I like the IDEA of it, the concept of a beer which people can associate with something crafted rather than mass-produced to make mass-profits.

  2. yeah i think i now agree. From reading other blogs, i think i can live with a definition along lines of "beer made by brewers who's main motivation is NOT maximising profit"

    This is still problematic as i suspect some of the brewers we would consider Craft brewers will have made some decisions based on maximising profit