While we’ve lost the will to debate the meaning of ‘craft’ in relation to beer we remain on the look out for evidence of how the term took hold.
In 1946, Batsford (as in the pub guides) published a book called English Country Crafts by Norman Wymer. Most of it concerns, e.g., woodworking but there is a brief mention of cider-making:
Maybe it can hardly be called a craft in the strict sense, but cider-making is an interesting old country work… and is, I think, worth a mention… Modern methods of processing and bottling have caused cider, as sold in most parts, to deprecate in taste, while the large firms now buy up the farmers’ apples in such huge quantities that the old-style cider-making has almost died out… There is as much difference between the machine- and the home-made cider as between mass-produced and hand-made articles. If you doubt it, try a glass of each and judge for yourself. Then you will see why cider-making is regarded as a country craft.
Craft, modern methods, old-style, machine-made, home-made,hand-made, mass-produced… How do you like them apples? (Ahem… sorry…)
On the other side of the coin, Paul Jennings’s The Local (2007) quotes Charles Barclay of Barclay Perkins describing himself and his peers, in 1830, rather wonderfully, as ‘power-loom brewers’.