Sunday 17 November 2013

Another observation

So after getting back from my holiday it appears that I have missed another good attempt to define craft beer. Ed's Beer Site lays down the straight forward approach for those less familiar with beer on how to pick out what's craft and what's not.

According to Ed, if grapefruit is the flavour the beer is obviously 'craft'. This may cover a lot of territory but there's a lot more to craft beer than this. To fall into the craft beer category the craft brewer must be seen as a craft brewer via some or all of the following means;

  • Has opened for business in the last 5 years or so.
  • Uses terms such as 'Rebel', 'Craft' or 'Dog' in the brewery name.
  • Kegging, and edgy cool looking pump clips
  • Has a product range consisting of at least one IPA, one Pale Ale, a Saison with an optional 'craft' lager, Amber or Black IPA.
  • Barrel aged and sour beers make you cool, but remember any Belgians outside of Saison's, Sours or IPA hybrids is a no go. Most authentic Belgian ales are malt forward, bold but subtle and nuanced. Malt forward subtle and nuanced = boring old world = Not craft.    
  • Try not to employ any old people. Remember young and cool is the image your after.    
OK so once you've followed most if not all of these steps you can state as M.D of 'Rebel Dog Craft brew' that you're the soul point of difference in the UK brewing industry. Second to this your products offer an oasis of hop-driven nectars amongst the ocean of boring brown bitters and insipid mass market lagers. Remember to act relatively oblivious that the marketing and business model has been copied many, many times in the endless cycles of beer fans picking up the mash shovels in a 'we wanna be cool like those guys' kind of champagne.

But don't get me wrong, I have nothing against big hoppy IPAs, Black IPAs, Imperial black rye Saisons or any of the brewers who produce much of the most progressive, interesting and excellent quality beers in the country. Furthermore brewers copying ideas from other brewers is hardly a new thing. Cast your mind back ten to twenty years or so you'll remember the ubiquitous droves of small independent brewers churning out session bitters and blonde ales galore. Back then calling yourself traditional was cool and being adventurous involved brewing something darker and/or stronger than 5%.

I am merely pointing out that many brewers have a tendency to follow each other. Think of it a little like the social groups of the school playground. The geeky kids hang together the same way the sporty kids occupy their own space on the playground. The 'craft' types warm to each other the same way the regional or the 80s/90s micro upstarts warm to each other. Different opinions and different views on what makes great beer. Does forcibly cramming as many ingredients into a batch of beer make it any better? Does it matter if your entire product range is dosed up with crystal malt and English hops? This is entirely subjective.   

1 comment:

Ed said...

Definitely a more comprehensive definition Rob.