You hear a lot about craft beer on beer blogs, especially when it comes down to actually defining the term. The problem I have with it is when it comes to explaining the term to people who know very little about beer. This is where I normally end up struggling to put forward the jist of what the whole evolving, thriving craft beer scene of the UK is all about.
For most beer enthusiasts, craft beer doesn't need a solid definition, they just get it. Wooly Dave did a video a while back that covers things well. We've also seen the debate on Indy Man Beer Con, which didn't really end in any conclusive definitions. The problem often seems that outside the world of beer geekism not that many people 'get it' and the term means very little if nothing at all.
To me there seems to be various perceptions of craft beer. Like the concept of it being only served on keg, or that it has to crammed with excessive quantities of pungent new world hops, or it's about putting more ingredients into a beer. Perhaps it has to be marketed a certain way with plenty of sneering at CAMRA being commonplace among the hardcore fans of craft beer elitism.
Take it or leave it, craft beer in the UK has evolved to be something quite different to the original 1980/90s blossoming craft beer scene in the US. Then again, take your average UK start up brewery that idolises and takes inspiration from the American craft beer market. They look around and feel like a fish out of water surrounded by masses of traditional 'real ale' brewers. So you can see where some of the attitudes and segregations in the UK industry have occurred. You have your 'real ale', your 'lowest common denominator' beer, fancy imported European beers then you have craft beer. Some people think the four things are completely different. Others (like me) realise there is a lot of overlap, especially between cask and craft beer.
So here at Rob's Beer Quest we have a definition. Feel free to argue with it. But to define it we have to put it in comparison to what is not craft beer. Here goes:
Craft beer originates from a brewer/collective of individuals who brews beers to certain specifications to the flavours and aromas that desire. What constitutes as great beer to them is individual to them and is what they strive to produce and wish to represent their company.
Not craft beer:
Non craft beer originates from a brewer who brews to certain specifications usually set by a managing body that dictates over operations. What constitutes as great beer to them depends entirely on what they can sell in the greatest volumes, to the widest customer base, at the cheapest production costs for the biggest profit margins. They aren't always large companies, some exist to cash in on existing markets.
Problem is, in reality the majority of products on the market take ideals from both camps. So at the end of the day craft beer really comes down to what the drinker makes of it. The definition of craft beer is of something that has no definition.