One of the hottest topics of debate in the ‘craft beer’ world always seems to be the question over whether beers are really ‘craft’. That question is harder to answer as the definition of ‘craft beer’ is becoming increasingly grey and some have questioned whether craft beer is a useful term at all.
Some prefer to say they simply drink ‘good beer’, but that is also an imperfect term, which reduce the descriptor to a matter of subjective taste. ‘Artisanal beers’ sounds a bit wanky and ‘microbrews’ is more objective perhaps but also too narrow in its focus on the scale of the production.
This is why, for me, though it isn’t perfect, craft beer continues to be the most useful term for distinguishing between the carefully produced beers of say a Mountain Goat and the mass-produced lagers like VB (and hence it’s used in every second sentence on this blog).
What is craft beer?
To use the term craft beer however one needs to have a workable definition. Norwegian brewers Nogne O recently shared their definition of craft beer, where they referred to some specific parts of the brewing such as the way the beer is fermented, which they felt distinguished craft from the ‘industry’. They summed up craft beer as “hand crafted ingredients used in hand crafted ales, where nothing is rushed.”
They focused primarily on the process of production in describing craft beer but I think they made a good point when they wrote “where nothing is rushed”.
This is the big difference with craft beer for me, I fee like brewers of craft beer aren’t going to take short cuts. The brewers are focused on the craft (duh) of making beer and choose product and process quality over cheaper faster nastier alternatives.
Craft beer also doesn’t hide the brewing process but highlights it. It isn’t just about satisfying drinkers but also challenging their tastes, creating something that contributes to the ‘beer canon’ and the beer community at large.
Craft beer is defined by its location, its ingredients and the people behind it and its drinkers, not by marketing and brandwank.
Craft beer is the beer that I want to drink, write about and support.
Craft beer is beer, done right.