An official definition of craft beer?

In his New Beer Guide (1988), Brian Glover recounts the story of Mike Reynolds and the Paradise Brewery, just down the road from us in Hayle:

[The brewery] was installed in 1981 in outbuildings which already had planning permission for craft use. Mike Reynolds considered small-scale brewing a craft and went ahead. Penwith District Council considered brewing an industry and objected. Eventually the case (with a little help from CAMRA) went on appeal to the Department of the Environment — which is where Michael Heseltine leapt in as Secretary of State, ruling in favour of the brewery.

In 1988, that was a nice little story but, twenty five years on, has it take on a new importance? (To beer geeks, at least…) Did the Government, with this intervention, establish a precedent for what does and doesn’t count as ‘craft’ brewing in the UK? They did so for ‘draught beer’ and ‘cask ale’, so it is possible.

We can’t find any contemporary newspaper coverage but, when we get the chance, we’ll do some digging in the Cornwall county archives. We’d also love to read contemporary paperwork from the DoE. In the meantime, if anyone else can point us to more information, or remembers this case, please comment below.

Bonus: Mike Reynolds sounds like an amazing bloke: amongst other achievements,  he also invented the Milky Bar kid!

7 thoughts on “An official definition of craft beer?”

  1. All entirely irrelevant now that Coors have taken ownership of the Craft market with their micro-brand Doom Bar from the Sharps ‘craft’ Brewery. High time beer bloggers found a new word to play with…

    1. Hello, Mark.

      What about trying to stake a claim, rather than having to come up with something new every time marketing/big business make a move to co-opt a word we like..?

  2. Do we have to have a word? Can’t we just say X brewery made Y beer and its interesting because…?

    If you want to promote a brewery, why can’t we just say its this big, its based here and they make great beer, unique beer, consistent beer, traditional beer, whatever it is.

  3. Trouble is it now appears that the people who ‘really’ shape the beer market, the ones with all the clout and capital, the ones producing the vast majority of the beers that people actually drink, will soon be rolling out their ‘Craft Beer’ marketing campaign based around their exciting and innovative Doom Bar brand. Why would genuinely innovative brewers want to stake a claim to this? Every week I get someone in the real world telling me about the latest ‘real ale’ they had at the weekend, nicely bottled and bought from the dull pasteurized national range at Morrisons. This is the future for ‘Craft Beer’ outside of the tiny world of beer geeks. The Craft Beer debate is now effectively over, time to find something else to obsess about.

  4. Interesting point B&B and comments Mark and PY0.
    We wrote a kind of position paper last week on our blog arguing exactly the same: that the real ‘Revolution’ is not a Craft one but is built on Quality, Consistency and Innovation: http://butcombe.com/wp/?p=279
    Tom
    Butcombe Brewery.

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