Well it is if you believe beer geeks that read this blog. My poll about whether cask beer can be considered craft is over and the
results aren't that surprising. Of course, like all polls, some didn't
like the questions and suggested that different questions should have been asked. If I'd thought about it at the time, would have
included one suggestion - "that there is no such thing as craft, it's just a marketing term."
So what did the voters say? A respectable 130 voted. Only two brave souls (1%) agreed with the proposition that craft beer comes in bottles and kegs/keykegs. That is a little surprising, as actually, I think a very good case can be made for postulating that when people think of craft beer, that's usually what is conjured up in their mind's eye. Of course, my readers being a sophisticated lot, saw through that and most (83%) thought that cask could be, or indeed is, craft beer. The majority within that group thought it depended on "who, where and how" which is interesting.
What conclusions can one draw from this? Firstly that real ale, to most minds at least, is or can be craft beer. Secondly, that what for example BrewDog calls craft (keg) may well be, but then again, so would the cask beers they made before, which they subsequently abandoned as part of their "craft revolution". Thirdly and most importantly I venture, is that since people largely thought that cask is craft "depending on who brewed it, where and how, there is a fair degree of "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it". For my part, I'm tempted to come to the conclusion that craft beer is actually just "beer I approve of" and including cask is done more as a sitting on the fence, politically correct sort of thing, while actually associating "craft" in their mind more with keg and fancy bottles.
Like many though, I think that I'm tiring of the subject a bit, though I have to admit that airing it is usually fun. Inconclusive fun, but fun nonetheless. No doubt the debate will rage on, not least at IndymanBeerCon in Manchester on Friday, where I'm on a panel to discuss it with, among others, BrewDog James. Now he clearly thinks that craft is keg and that cask isn't and you know, in differentiation terms, I might well agree with him. In quality terms, I certainly don't.
So there's a bit of my take for Friday. Craft is at least partly a marketing term to differentiate new keg from traditional cask beer and from other discredited "old" keg beers. Bit like New Labour was termed to set aside Old Labour.
Of course none of this covers the important fact that increasingly the term "craft" is being hi-jacked by bigger breweries, thus muddying the already muddy waters even more.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
If you wish to email me you can do so by using this address: tandleman[at]yahoo.co.uk
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