You’re Dead to us Now

Some­one who reads the blog and fol­lows us on Twit­ter wrote to us last week. His email began: “Your def­i­n­i­tion of Craft Beer/Breweries I feel is the best I’ve seen in an attempt to clar­i­fy a con­fus­ing sit­u­a­tion.”

Do go on,” we said smug­ly, sit­ting in nox­ious clouds of our own self-sat­is­fac­tion.

At what point is a Craft Brew­er no longer a Craft Brew­er? Can that hap­pen?”

The blood drained from our faces. That is a very awk­ward ques­tion.

It helps if, like us, you don’t think of this as bina­ry, but a ques­tion of degrees. And, as the def­i­n­i­tion of ‘craft beer’ in the UK isn’t (yet) fixed or exter­nal­ly val­i­dat­ed, and if you think it’s a worth­while idea, you need to have your own cri­te­ria.

The more box­es they tick, they more like­ly we are to think they’re a craft brew­ery. By exten­sion, if those ticks are rubbed out, our think­ing goes into reverse.

If Thorn­bridge start using clear bot­tles, or ditch cask ale, or start describ­ing Jaipur only as “a pre­mi­um beer made with the best malt and hops”, we’d begin to have doubts. Brew­dog, for all their attempts to monop­o­lise this ter­ri­to­ry, do lots of things that don’t sound very much like craft brew­ing to us: a few more steps in that direc­tion, and they’re out, at least in our minds.

Final­ly, does it mat­ter if a brew­ery stops being ‘craft’? No. It does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean their beer sud­den­ly tastes bad, or that we hate them, just that our rela­tion­ship changes. ‘Craft’ is not syn­ony­mous with ‘wor­thy’.