Is this nitro-keg stout from a regional family brewer a so-called “craft beer”? What about this notoriously boring cask bitter from another? What about the keg version of this borderline bland but kind-of-OK cask beer?
There is nothing inherently ‘craft’ about one beer or another, and no device you can use to measure a beer’s ‘craftness’. Because it is more subjective than deciding whether a beer is ‘real ale’ or not, it boils down to whether:
(a) there is something like a consensus that a particular beer has craft status (i.e. it ticks all the boxes and leaves little room for argument) or
(b) someone has made the case for it ticking at least some of the boxes.
That might be drinkers (or ‘fans’ as we increasingly frequently call those who boost one brewery or another) or, more often, the brewers themselves. One way the latter can do so is by being transparent about their methods and materials.
Actually, a better question than “Is X craft beer?” is “If Y is craft beer, why isn’t X?”
Ninety nine per cent of the time, though, if you’re asking about a particular beer, you’re being mischievous, and already know the answer.
P.S. Are Eddie and the Hot Rods punk? What about Elvis Costello? What about the reformed Sex Pistols?