News, Nuggets & Longreads 5 January 2019: Gratitude and Onions

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the past few weeks (given that we took Christmas off) from St Albans to air raid shelters.

At The Pur­suit of Abbey­ness Mar­tin Stew­ard asks an excel­lent ques­tion: why do peo­ple vis­it brew­ery tap­rooms?

On the face of it, this is an odd thing to do. Brew­eries with­out tap­rooms may give you a taste of their beer, but they are hard­ly places to kick back and put the world to rights over a good ses­sion. They can be inter­est­ing for beer lovers, but, if we’re hon­est, set­ting aside the few with spe­cial archi­tec­tur­al, his­tor­i­cal or brew­ing points of inter­est, one is much the same as anoth­er.

But per­haps there is some­thing deep­er going on:

When we knock on the door of a pokey lit­tle brew­ery at the ragged end of a rain­swept indus­tri­al estate, are we real­ly respond­ing to a soul-deep thirst to express our grat­i­tude, in per­son, to the brew­ers of our much-loved beer?

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 5 Jan­u­ary 2019: Grat­i­tude and Onions”

Davey Jones, the Man Behind the Real Ale Twats

The ‘Real Ale Twats’ strip first appeared in the adult comic Viz in 2001 and has a cult following among beer enthusiasts, because they recognise in it either themselves, or The Enemy.

We’re long-time Viz sub­scribers and spent a bit of time research­ing the RATs, as they are abbre­vi­at­ed, when we were writ­ing Brew Bri­tan­nia. A cou­ple of peo­ple had sug­gest­ed to us that the RATs might be the source of the pop­u­lar stereo­type of the beard­ed CAMRA mem­ber, assum­ing incor­rect­ly (as did we) that it had first appeared as far back as the 1980s. That proved to be a dead end for the book but gave us a fresh appre­ci­a­tion for the strip, espe­cial­ly on those occa­sions when it felt as if the author was eaves­drop­ping on beer social media.

Then, when we hap­pened to con­nect via Twit­ter with its cre­ator, Viz vet­er­an Dav­ey Jones, ear­li­er this year, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to ask him some ques­tions about how the strip came to be, and the source of its often painful­ly accu­rate obser­va­tions.

The fol­low­ing Q&A was con­duct­ed by back-and-forth of emails with some light edit­ing for clar­i­ty and flow.

* * *

What prompt­ed the idea of the Real Ale Twats? Was there some spe­cif­ic inci­dent or per­son you had in mind?

I’ve always been a fan of the band Half Man Half Bis­cuit and they had done a song called ‘CAMRA Man’ which made me want to draw a strip along those lines. It’s got lyrics like “Week­end vin­tage car show, Dr Who afi­ciona­do” and so on.

Also I’ve spent quite a lot of time in pubs and the char­ac­ters are sort of com­pos­ites of types that I encoun­tered. There was a bloke who used to come into my local in New­cas­tle who had a big beard and a beret and always seemed to be car­ry­ing sev­er­al shoul­der bags. He may not even have been a real ale enthu­si­ast – I don’t think I ever heard him speak – but he had the right look, so I drew him. Prob­a­bly very unfair­ly.

How did the edi­to­r­i­al team react to the idea when you pitched it?

Back then I was part of the edi­to­r­i­al team – there were five of us at the time, I think. I’ve since gone back to being a free­lancer, work­ing on my own. But in 2001 we were sat around in someone’s back gar­den, try­ing to come up with ideas, and I men­tioned want­i­ng to do this strip about real ale drinkers. As we were chat­ting about it, Simon Don­ald, who did the Sid the Sex­ist strip, start­ed talk­ing in this stu­pid ‘stout yeo­man of the bar’ voice – “Hith­er bar­lord, a foam­ing tankard of your finest” and all that, and that seemed to fit.

The first strip involved the three char­ac­ters going to a pub called The Murderer’s Arms by mis­take, and ends with the main char­ac­ter get­ting a pint glass shoved in his face. Which is some­thing that hap­pens quite often in Viz car­toons.

A panel from the strip about Christmas pubgoers.

How does a strip typ­i­cal­ly come togeth­er? How do you go about find­ing the seed for a sto­ry?

I just try to think of a pub-relat­ed theme that I haven’t done yet – vap­ing, or pub grub, or what­ev­er. I enjoy doing ones that are vague­ly auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal, or at least are exag­ger­a­tions of thoughts that I’ve had myself. For instance, I’ve caught myself inward­ly grum­bling about all the peo­ple who only go to the pub over Christ­mas, crowd­ing the place out and not know­ing the cor­rect rules of behav­iour at the bar. So I got a cou­ple of strips out of that, with the Twats pon­tif­i­cat­ing about “ama­teur drinkers” and so on. It can be quite sat­is­fy­ing to make fun of your­self, espe­cial­ly if you’re the only one who knows that you’re mak­ing fun of your­self.

That’s inter­est­ing. It makes it seem a bit less ‘mean’, for want of a bet­ter word.

Yes, I do regard myself as being a bit of a Twat. It takes one to know one, to some extent.

But what about real ale – have you ever been a CAMRA mem­ber your­self?

I nev­er got round to join­ing CAMRA. I don’t know why. I love pubs. When I was younger I spent a lot of time sit­ting in pubs on my own, and there’s noth­ing quite like it. You just sit there drift­ing from thought to thought, and tun­ing in and out of con­ver­sa­tions going on around you, as the drink set­tles in. As I’ve got old­er I do less soli­tary drink­ing, but some­times think I should go back to it a bit more, because you get to observe all these weird social dynam­ics and pow­er games going on around the bar. All the boast­ing and one-upman­ship. When you’re hav­ing a socia­ble drink with friends, you tend to miss all that, prob­a­bly because you’re doing all those things your­self.

I drink real ale and like it, but I’m not knowl­edge­able about it. If it’s about 4 to 4.5 per­cent, and got ‘sum­mer’ or ‘blonde’ or ‘gold­en’ in the name, I’ll prob­a­bly give it a go. But by the time I get home, I’ll have for­got­ten what I was drink­ing. Hav­ing said that, my favourite beer is Wye Val­ley Brewery’s But­ty Bach. I’m from Here­ford, where Wye Val­ley Brew­ery is based, and when­ev­er I go back to vis­it fam­i­ly I’ll have a few pints of that. Part of the rea­son they’re my favourite is that they sent me a free box of their HPA when I men­tioned them in a RATs strip. I also like Wylam Brew­ery who are based in the North East, and who once sent a cou­ple of crates of their assort­ed beers to the Viz office.

One of our local pubs in Bris­tol, a fair­ly down-to-earth place that doesn’t tend to have real ale on offer, has one of your RAT strips pinned on the wall, and that’s some­thing we’ve seen a few times up and down the coun­try. It feels a bit like a warn­ing to us, or per­haps just an expres­sion of frus­tra­tion on the part of pub­li­cans. How do you feel about that kind of thing?

Yeah, I’ve occa­sion­al­ly seen them pinned up in pubs. I don’t think it’s nec­es­sar­i­ly a sign that they hate real ale enthu­si­asts. I’ve nev­er worked behind a bar, but I imag­ine it’s a job that often involves putting up with bores. Not all pub bores are real ale bores of course, by any means. But the main RAT char­ac­ter with the beard is def­i­nite­ly a bore, and I quite often have him hold­ing forth to the bar staff, because they’re a cap­tive audi­ence. And as you say it must get quite frus­trat­ing to be sub­ject­ed to someone’s pompous opin­ions for hours. But in gen­er­al the strips are intend­ed as a fair­ly affec­tion­ate piss-take, so I hope they’re pinned up in the same spir­it.

What has been the feed­back from read­ers over the years?

Read­ers will some­times send in pic­tures of looka­likes who they’ve spot­ted in the pub. Some of them are, er, quite remark­able.

And CAMRA mem­bers? Have you ever received any com­plaints?

I don’t think CAMRA has ever com­plained, as far as I know. The Real Ale Twats are doubt­less CAMRA mem­bers but they’re not real­ly sup­posed to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive. They’re stereo­types of a cer­tain kind of pub-goer, real­ly.

On a relat­ed note, what do you make of the num­ber of real life real ale drinkers who iden­ti­fy them­selves as Real Ale Twats?

It’s quite odd. I recent­ly became aware of a Real Ale Twats group on Face­book, which has thou­sands of mem­bers. Which felt strange. I don’t sup­pose they’re all famil­iar with the Viz car­toon, but if they’re hap­py to laugh at them­selves that’s prob­a­bly a good thing. I think.

"One does yearn for the days when womenfolk were not permitted in pubs."

In recent years it’s felt as if the strip has fall­en into sync with ideas around ‘mansplain­ing’ and the latent sex­ism of a cer­tain type of know-all bloke. How con­scious­ly have you set out to make that kind of point?

It was nev­er a con­scious attempt to make a point, I don’t think. The char­ac­ters just lend them­selves to those atti­tudes. The types of peo­ple the RATs are based on are ones I’d see in the pub, a bit social­ly inept, com­ing out every night and mak­ing ham-fist­ed attempts at flirt­ing with the bar­maid. I’d imag­ine that a lot of women who do bar work can feel their hearts sink when they see a par­tic­u­lar reg­u­lar com­ing in through the door – some­one who is going to spend the whole night on a barstool regal­ing them with wit­ty ban­ter, and spray­ing crisp crumbs in their face. And blokes going on and on about their divorces – “Best thing that ever hap­pened to me!” repeat­ed over and over through­out the evening. I think the RATs are scared of women but try to cov­er that up with brava­do, which is fuelled by booze. A bit like Sid the Sex­ist in that respect, come to think of it.

Do you still think, in 2018, that real ale drinkers are a tar­get worth satiris­ing? Is there any chance of the RATs mor­ph­ing into the Craft Beer Twats at any point, for exam­ple?

That’s a good ques­tion. I don’t know if the beardy, pot-bel­lied stereo­type is a bit out­dat­ed. Maybe it is. Viz has always dealt with quite broad­ly-drawn stereo­types, but the char­ac­ters some­how devel­op lives and per­son­al­i­ties of their own. To some extent it becomes more about the char­ac­ters than about satire. So as long as you keep think­ing of sit­u­a­tions to put them in, you keep draw­ing the strips. Actu­al­ly there was a strip a few years ago which had the RATs look­ing down their noses at craft beer-drink­ing hip­sters. I think it end­ed with the RATs start­ing up a ‘Cam­paign for Real Real Ale Cam­paign­ers’ or some­thing.

Hipsters in the pub.

Of all the RAT strips you’ve pro­duced over the years are there any you think stand up par­tic­u­lar­ly well?

I think my per­son­al favourite was one where the RATs set off to their local, talk­ing about the wide range of fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ters you meet in the pub, and then there’s a big pic­ture of the pub inte­ri­or and all the cus­tomers look, and talk, just like the Twats. The rea­son I like that one is that I spent quite a long time on the draw­ing and was quite pleased with how it turned out. Which doesn’t always hap­pen.

Have you ever thought about a Real Ale Twats book? We sus­pect all of us beer bores would buy it.

Yeah, I’d like the idea of doing a col­lect­ed book, but all the copy­right belongs to Viz and the pub­lish­ers, so it would be up to them, real­ly. (I retired from the edi­to­r­i­al six years ago, and went back to being free­lance). I’m not sure there’d be enough mate­r­i­al to jus­ti­fy a book just yet. But cheers for the vote of con­fi­dence.

* * *

You can read ‘The Real Ale Twats’ in Viz on an irreg­u­lar basis, in the Christ­mas annu­als, and there is a sam­ple on the offi­cial web­site. Images in this post were sup­plied by Dav­ey Jones.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 12 May 2018: Bass, Bavaria, Bambini

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from the masculinity of beer to the fascination of Bass.

Dea Latis, an indus­try group ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing beer to women, and chal­leng­ing the idea that beer is a male pre­serve. It com­mis­sioned a study from YouGov into women’s atti­tudes to beer which is sum­marised here, with a link to the full report:

Beer Som­me­li­er and Dea Latis direc­tor Annabel Smith said: “We know that the beer cat­e­go­ry has seen mas­sive progress in the last decade – you only need to look at the wide vari­ety of styles and flavours which weren’t avail­able wide­ly in the UK ten years ago. Yet it appears the female con­sumer either hasn’t come on the same jour­ney, or the beer indus­try just isn’t address­ing their female audi­ence ade­quate­ly. Overt­ly mas­cu­line adver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion of beer has been large­ly absent from media chan­nels for a num­ber of years but there is a lot of his­to­ry to unrav­el. Women still per­ceive beer brand­ing is tar­get­ed at men.”

We’ve already linked to this once this week but why not a sec­ond time? It’s a sub­stan­tial bit of work, after all.

There’s some inter­est­ing com­men­tary on this, too, from Kirst Walk­er, who says: “If we want more women in the beer club, we have to sweep up the crap from the floors and admit that flow­ers are nice and it pays not to smell of horse piss. How’s that for a man­i­festo?”

Bass Pale Ale mirror, Plymouth.

Ian Thur­man, AKA @thewickingman, was born and brought up in Bur­ton-upon-Trent and has a lin­ger­ing affec­tion for Bass. He has writ­ten a long reflec­tion on this famous beer’s rise and fall accom­pa­nied by a crowd-sourced direc­to­ry of pubs where it is always avail­able:

It’s dif­fi­cult for me to be unemo­tion­al about Draught Bass. It was part of grow­ing up in Bur­ton. But what are the facts.

The EU AB InBev careers’ web­site accu­rate­ly describes the rel­a­tive impor­tance of their brands to the com­pa­ny.

The UK has a strong port­fo­lio of AB InBev brands. This includes, glob­al brands, Stel­la Artois and Bud­weis­er, inter­na­tion­al brands, Beck’s, Leffe and Hoe­gaar­den, as well as local brands, includ­ing Bod­ding­tons and Bass.”

We’re fas­ci­nat­ed by the re-emer­gence of the Cult of Bass as a sym­bol of a cer­tain con­ser­v­a­tive atti­tude to pubs and beer. You might regard this arti­cle as its man­i­festo.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 12 May 2018: Bass, Bavaria, Bam­bi­ni”

Everything We Wrote in April 2018: Real Ale, Beer Gardens, Amsterdam

April was a relatively quiet month because we went on holiday for ten days in the middle of it, but we managed a few decent posts nonetheless.

If you got some­thing out of this lot, and the periph­er­al activ­i­ty on social media, then do con­sid­er sign­ing up for our Patre­on. We’d love to get to to 100 sign-ups by the end of this year. Or, fail­ing that, buy us a one-off pint – we’ve had a few of these already and it’s a love­ly boost when they land in the inbox.

Orbit beers in a row.

Any­way… The month start­ed with anoth­er entry in our series of tast­ing notes on beers sug­gest­ed by our Patre­on sub­scribers, focus­ing on beers from Siren as request­ed by Tim Thomas. Then, lat­er in the month, we tast­ed a bunch of beers from Orbit as cho­sen by Paul B. Final­ly, we worked our way through a whole bunch of beers from Ire­land at the prompt­ing of the Beer Nut:

Kin­negar Rust­buck­et, at 5.1%.… smelled won­der­ful, tak­ing us back to those days of a decade ago when Goose Island IPA was con­sid­ered Way Out There, all orange and pine. Red-brown in colour, it tast­ed like a well exe­cut­ed, tongue-coat­ing, jam­my IPA of the old school, and gave the impres­sion of being a much big­ger beer. It was per­fect­ly clean, nice­ly bit­ter, and just a touch pep­pery by way of a twist. What a breath of fresh air, and good val­ue, too. We’d drink more of this.

(Side note: we had a cou­ple of pri­vate mes­sages from brew­ers of the back of this run of posts, offer­ing fol­low-up infor­ma­tion on what might have been wrong with beers we hadn’t enjoyed, and updat­ing us on back­ground goings-on that should mean bet­ter beer in months to come.)


Long­form sub­tweet­ing at Mark John­son and Peter McK­er­ry in an effort to raise their spir­its (they spot­ted this was aimed at them imme­di­ate­ly) we came up with a list of rea­sons to be cheer­ful about beer. This was Stan Hieronymus’s favourite:

10. Beer in gen­er­al con­tin­ues to be real­ly tasty, and get­ting tip­sy with friends and fam­i­ly is still great fun.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Every­thing We Wrote in April 2018: Real Ale, Beer Gar­dens, Ams­ter­dam”

A Glossary of Terms

Amongst all the chat about the Campaign for Real Ale’s AGM at the weekend we noticed a few old questions resurfacing: why, exactly, does CAMRA campaign for Real Ale and not Cask Ale? And, of course, “Why is everyone using that bloody awful, meaningless word ‘craft’?”

With that in mind, this isn’t an attempt to jus­ti­fy or pro­mote any one term over anoth­er but rather a chrono­log­i­cal list of terms and that we’ve noticed in cir­cu­la­tion, how they have been and con­tin­ue to be used, and (to the best of our reck­on­ing) where they came from.

If there is a point we’re try­ing to make it’s prob­a­bly that most of these terms are new­er than they seem, and that their mean­ings are less fixed in law or tra­di­tion than you might assume.

If there are terms you think ought to be added, let us know in the com­ments below.

And if you want more detailed accounts of some of this click the links through­out which will take you to old posts of ours, and get hold of a copy of our 2014 book Brew Bri­tan­nia which cov­ers the birth of CAMRA and rise of craft beer in some detail.

* * *

Beer from the Wood, 1880s. A near-syn­onym for cask ale, prob­a­bly derived from ‘Wines from the Wood’ (1850s) which dis­tin­guished wine dis­pensed on tap from bulk wood­en casks from the bot­tled prod­uct. The Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of Beer From the Wood (SPBW) was found­ed in 1963 and were prob­a­bly drawn to the phrase because of it’s stout yeo­man of the bar archa­ic qual­i­ty. It was used freely in the 1960s, e.g. in Bats­ford guides, often but not always refer­ring to what we now call cask ale, even though by this time most casks were not actu­al­ly made of wood. These days, it refers specif­i­cal­ly to cask-con­di­tioned beer served from wood­en casks – a grow­ing trend.

Keg Beer, 1955. Keg beer as we know it – stored and served from pres­surised con­tain­ers – was pio­neered by Watney’s in the 1930s but this par­tic­u­lar phrase was first used by Flow­ers in the mid-1950s. The ter­mi­nol­o­gy was mud­dled for most of the decade that fol­lowed with kegs some­times called casks and so on. Which leads us to…

1956 Flower's Keg beermat.
Flower’s Keg – not the first keg beer, but the first to use the word in this way, in 1955. It then became (to their annoy­ance) a gener­ic term.

Cask Beer, 1968. The British Government’s inquiry into monop­o­lies in the beer indus­try at the end of the 1960s required the firm­ing up of some pre­vi­ous­ly vague ter­mi­nol­o­gy. “We use the descrip­tion ‘draught’ beer to include any beer which is sup­plied to the retail­er in bulk con­tain­ers and drawn to order in the pub for each cus­tomer”, the final report said. “Although the word ‘draught’ is some­times used to dis­tin­guish tra­di­tion­al draught from keg beer, for the pur­pos­es of this report we call the for­mer ‘cask’ beer.”

Bière Arti­sanale, French, c.1970. We’re a bit shaky on this one because it’s hard­er to access sources, and we under­stand them less well even when we can dig them up, but there are def­i­nite­ly instances of this exact phrase in print from around 1970 onward. (And see Craft-brew­ing, below.) Arti­sanale and direct trans­la­tions in oth­er lan­guages are used wide­ly on the Con­ti­nent in a way that rough­ly cor­re­sponds to the late 20th cen­tu­ry sense of craft beer in Eng­lish, i.e. dis­tinc­tive, spe­cial, inter­est­ing, and prob­a­bly from small­er inde­pen­dent pro­duc­ers. The union of Bel­gian Lam­bic pro­duc­ers, HORAL, for exam­ple, found­ed in 1997, is De Hoge Raad voor Ambachtelijke Lam­biek­bieren, and trans­lates its name in Eng­lish as the High Coun­cil for Arti­sanal Lam­bic Beers.

Sign: "Traditional Real Ales".

Real Ale, 1973. In 1971, the founders of the Cam­paign for the Revi­tal­i­sa­tion of Ale (CAMRA) chose the word ‘ale’ rather than beer because it seemed more down-to-earth than ‘beer’. Then at the 1973 CAMRA annu­al gen­er­al a deci­sion was made to change the organisation’s name so it would be eas­i­er to say (espe­cial­ly after a few drinks) and activist Peter Lyn­lie sug­gest­ed the Cam­paign for Real Ale, to per­mit the reten­tion of the exist­ing acronym. And so Real Ale, almost by acci­dent, became a syn­onym for Cask Beer.

Craft-brew­ing, 1977. Used by British writer Michael Jack­son in his World Guide to Beer to refer to rare exam­ples of non-indus­tri­al “spe­cial­i­ty brews” in France, along with craft-brew­ers in the sec­tion on the Amer­i­can brew­ing indus­try dur­ing pro­hi­bi­tion. It was prob­a­bly a direct trans­la­tion of bière arti­sanale.

Micro-brew­ery, 1982. A phrase that first began to appear in print with ref­er­ence to Amer­i­can brew­eries at around the time of the first Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val, and which saw off ‘mini-brew­ery’ and ‘bou­tique brew­ery’ (see Bou­tique Beer, below) as com­peti­tors. In Britain these were gen­er­al­ly called ‘small’ or ‘free trade’ brew­eries until the 1990s. An ambigu­ous term, Micro-brew­ery was also often applied to what we might now dis­tin­guish as Brew­pubs.

Zero Degrees, Bristol.

Brew­pub, 1982. At the 1982 con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can Home­brew­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion David Bruce, of Firkin fame, gave a talk enti­tled ‘The Eng­lish Brew­pub and the Resur­gence of the Small, Local Brew­ery in Eng­land and Amer­i­ca’. In Britain pubs that made their own beer on the premis­es were known as ‘home-brew hous­es’, or ‘home-brew pubs’, which mor­phed into Brew­pub, we would guess, to avoid con­fu­sion with home-brew­ing of the ama­teur vari­ety.

Bot­tle-con­di­tioned Beer, 1984. In 1980, CAMRA was describ­ing bot­tled Guin­ness as nat­u­ral­ly con­di­tioned. By 1983 it was con­di­tioned in the bot­tle. Then in the 1984 Good Beer Guide it was final­ly described using the phrase we know today.

Craft Beer, 1986. There are almost cer­tain­ly ear­li­er uses of this exact phrase but 1986 is when it start­ed to appear in print in US pub­li­ca­tions such as this news­pa­per arti­cle and Vince Cottone’s Good Beer Guide: Brew­ers and Pubs of the Pacif­ic North­west. The ear­li­est instance in a British pub­li­ca­tion we’ve been able to find is from CAMRA’s What’s Brew­ing for August 1993, in an arti­cle by an Amer­i­can writer, but Roger Protz and oth­er soon took it up. Ini­tial­ly used as a delib­er­ate­ly vague catch-all to dis­tin­guish sup­pos­ed­ly interesting/distinctive/independent beers (includ­ing, but not exclu­sive­ly refer­ring to, Real Ale) from loathed bland/industrial/macro prod­ucts.

Bou­tique Beer, 1988. Used by Michael Jack­son in the 1988 edi­tion of his World Guide to Beer and occa­sion­al­ly up until the present day. In Jackson’s usage exact­ly syn­ony­mous with Craft Beer, above. Ear­li­er in the decade a vari­ant, ‘Bou­tique Brew­ery’, had occa­sion­al­ly been used as an alter­na­tive to Micro-brew­ery.

Design­er Beer, 1991. Over­lap­ping with Craft Beer but with more focus on style and brand­ing than the beer itself. Sap­poro, in its weird pint-glass-shaped can, was con­sid­ered design­er, but doesn’t seem to have qual­i­fied as craft.

Microp­ub, 2005. The first Microp­ub was launched in Herne, Kent, by Mar­tyn Hilli­er and as far as we have been able to ascer­tain was described that way from the very start. The term was Hillier’s own inven­tion inspired by the idea that it was the pub equiv­a­lent of the Micro-brew­ery. By his own admis­sion he has spent a lot of time since explain­ing that, no, it isn’t a Brew­pub or Micro-brew­ery.

Nano-brew­ery, c.2005. As some of the first wave of Micro-brew­eries got big a word was need­ed to describe tiny com­mer­cial setups oper­at­ing on a home-brew scale. We can’t trace the exact roots of the phrase but here’s a 2006 post on Beer Advo­cate which seems to sug­gest it was in gen­er­al cir­cu­la­tion among the cognoscen­ti by this point.

KeyKeg, 2006. This is a trade­mark for a spe­cif­ic line of prod­ucts pro­duced by Light­weight Con­tain­ers, a Dutch com­pa­ny, and launched at a brew­ing trade fair in Novem­ber 2006. Where­as tra­di­tion­al Keg Beer is exposed to pro­pel­lant gas KeyKeg beer sits in a bag inside a pres­surised ball and does not come into con­tact with the pro­pel­lant. Depend­ing on how the beer derives its car­bon­a­tion, it may or may not qual­i­fy as Real Ale under the stan­dards of CAMRA’s Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee. (Key­Cask is also a trade­mark of Light­weight Con­tain­ers, applied to essen­tial­ly the same prod­ucts.)

Craft Keg, 2010. This is a hard one to pin down but this 2012 arti­cle by Adri­an Tier­ney-Jones for All About Beer places a mark­er point for the term hav­ing tru­ly arrived. Before this, from around 2010, most peo­ple were care­ful­ly refer­ring to “craft keg beer” – that is, Keg Beer, that was also Craft Beer, but look­ing at old Tweets you’ll see peo­ple like Dave ‘Hard­knott’ Bai­ley using it quite freely. There wasn’t real­ly an urgent need for a way to dis­tin­guish good keg from bad (yes, we know – just a short­cut) until the 1990s because until then all keg was bad; and that need didn’t become urgent until after Brew­Dog began to make waves.

UPDATED 26/04/2018: Added entries for Micro-brew­ery, Brew­pub, Nano-brew­ery, Microp­ub and KeyKeg, and amend­ed oth­er entries to fit as required.