In an interesting development (or is it bandwagon jumping?) it seems that the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) are considering changing their logo which current says "Local Beer," to read "Craft Beer".
Keith Bott, of Titanic Brewery, the chairman of SIBA, said the proposal to drop “local” from the organisation’s logo and replace it with “craft” had been raised at a SIBA council meeting and was now going out to regional members for discussion. He said: “We don’t believe it’s our role to define craft beer, though any member of SIBA is by definition a craft brewer." He goes on to remark about how "local beer" is by definition, what they do and is concerned that a change may be "less relevant".
He is probably right to be concerned in tagging themselves with a title that means all things to all men (and women) and shares a consensus with almost nobody. But of course it would - or is that could - at a fell swoop, make the term "craft" synonymous with cask, rather than its current widely held (though of course not agreed) definition of superior keg. That's one in the nuts for BrewDog's half baked plan to define craft beer in their own image, as you would then have a respected organisation with several hundred breweries as members, most of whom only brew cask beer, thus taking de facto ownership of the title. I rather doubt if James Watt envisages or approves of that scenario, but it is at least more plausible than his.
Somewhat presciently in my view, another thing Mr Bott says (and this is again at odds with the BrewDog view of the world) is that "ultimately the consumer is the right person to decide what is and isn’t craft." This is hardly co-terminus with a self serving definition by a sector of the industry who would like to define the craft world in their image and for their convenience and then nod approvingly as the drinking public falls in line.
I've an idea though, reading between the lines, that this change is unlikely to happen, though mabe I'm wrong. To the ordinary drinker in the pub who values choice and a decent pint above all, the term "local" has far more resonance than "craft" and that resonance, that approval of small and local, is far more likely to sell beer to both publican and public. That'll probably swing it. Keith Bott may though have given the definition that most suits craft. That is something that the consumer perceives as craft. "It can't really be defined, but you know it when you see it" works pretty well now - for that is where we are - for most people. Impractical and skewed ideas imported (copied) from the US (whose definition of craft is a bit suspect anyway) to a completely different market, will remain pie in the sky unless there is a legal definition. That just won't happen.
In the meantime we must wait and see for SIBA, but don't go holding your breath.
The SIBA website has it here.