Thursday, 13 March 2014

Craft Definition by BrewDog

Remember that debate about what craft beer is?  Course you do, it was rather popular until we all more or less gave up on it as every time we thought about it, our heads ached intolerably.  I sort of think we all decided on our own definitions and went off muttering words to the effect of  "I can't define it, but I know what it is when I see it."  Then we sort of put it aside and went off to lie in a darkened room. You might also remember that BrewDog same up with their own definition which bore an uncanny resemblance to what happens over the pond in the US.  It was rather derided on this basis and that too seemed to die a similar death.

Now I learn that this very afternoon, that BrewDog, far from giving up on it like most of us, will put a new definition to the Society of Independent Brewers' (SIBA) AGM  The BD website does give some details and urges those with thoughts on the matter to get in touch with them.  The actual proposal to be put to SIBA members for discussion is rather elusive though. The links to previous definitions and discussions both give a 404 error (not found) and BrewDog Jonathan hasn't responded to my request for details (and seems today to have been removed as contact on the BD Blog), so I can't tell you what it is.  What the blog does say seems to relate, not to craft beer, but to craft breweries.  Here's what it says:

"We believe that to earn its title a European Craft Brewery must be:

1) Authentic
a) brews all their beers at original gravity
b) does not use any adjuncts to lessen flavour and reduce costs.

2) Honest
a) All ingredients are clearly listed on the label of all of their beers.
b) The place where the beer is brewed is clearly listed on all of their beers.
c) All their beer is brewed at craft breweries.

3) Independent
Is not more than 20% owned by a brewing company which operates any brewery which is not a craft brewery.

4) Committed
If the brewer has an estate, at least 90% of the beer they sell must be craft beer."

Notice what's missing? Yep. Definition of craft beer.

So?  Any the wiser about what BrewDog are going to say today?  Me neither, but hopefully we will find out after the event, as clearly we aren't going to beforehand. 

It'll be interesting to see what the assorted SIBA types will make of all this.  Are they craft?  Dunno, but probably.  Er. I think.


Phil said...

Craft beer = any beer made by a craft brewery.

As Max Pivny Filosof pointed out a while back, point 4 is the killer - unless Holt's, Lees' et al stop selling Guinness overnight, they're not getting in. Sam's would be fine, though.

It's hopeless, though. Look at 1b, and find me the page on Molson Coors' Website where they explain how they use adjuncts "to lessen flavour and reduce costs". Nobody's going to admit to that - and the "lessen[ing] flavour" part is totally subjective anyway. And are you still brewing "at original gravity" if you don't put the beer on sale until it's been blended with a weaker beer, or with a stronger beer - or freeze-distilled, come to that?

StringersBeer said...

1. The AGM was yesterday (the 12th) Sadly I was unable to attend due to a work emergency.

2. There was a motion on the list, that SIBA should define 'craft beer' proposed by BD's good buddies Gerald Michaluk (Arran) and Tuggy Delap (Fyne Ales).

I'm so sorry I was unable to take part in the no doubt entertaining debate.

Not really a pooch initiative.

Tandleman said...

All I can say is that's not what BD say on their blog.

"Over the course of two previous blog posts (here and here) we have discussed our proposal for a definition of craft beer with online communities around the world. On 13th March, we will take this debate to the next level as we will be formally discussing the proposal at the SIBA AGM. "

Bit of spin then?

Anonymous said...

You can plug the URLs into the Wayback machine to see older versions.

StringersBeer said...

Do you think? It's not exactly spin, though is it? More completely made up. Or what we used to call a lie.

py said...

I thought we agreed it was any beer that tasted of grapefruit?

Might as well try and come up with an official definition of tasty beer, its all just pointless self-serving bollocks.

StringersBeer said...

@py, it's not really against the spirit of a trade organisation to serve the members. So while an individual business seeking to define "craft" might be fairly called self-serving, it's not clear to me that an effort by SIBA to do so would be. My issue would have been that SIBA, perhaps, isn't qualified to do the job.

You may be interested in Looks like fun.

Cooking Lager said...

The brewdog definition is basically economic protectionism. They wish the law the step in and protect a term defined to suit themselves and exclude others.

Most established regional and family brewers have tied estates which will in the main sell a lot of mainstream product. I suspect Carling is the most popular beer they sell through the tied estate.

So despite making unusual seasonal brews in low volume they cannot be craft under brewdogs definition.

They would have to have an estate of craft bars, which is what Brewdog are building, funnily enough.

You can't blame brewdog for trying, though I doubt the rest of the industry has an interest in accepting their terms.

Coxy said...

Craft beer should always

1. Brewed in an AB postcode

2. Have embarrassing Juvenile wording on the Bottles

3. Sell their product in all UK major Supermarkets

4.Should have bars and not pubs

5.Should look down their nose on cask beer as it is not as profitable
6. Be brewed by arrogant Bastards

I cannot believe I still buy their product!!

Steve said...

Cookie is exactly - it's economic protection, same as the US definition protects the industry.

However, I think we need protection for the industry from the big breweries who have bored us to death with their terrible beers, jumping on the band wagon calling everything they do as "craft" - sick of seeing it on pump clips.

If it stops Carling being called "Craft Lager", than it's a price worth paying.

Cooking Lager said...

The question to ask, Steve, is a definition possible if all advocates insist on a definition that suits themselves at the expense of others? Maybe this is just the start point, if so Brewdog have shown their cards as one of naked self-interest. Nothing to engage others with, other than to dismiss Brewdogs suggestion out of hand.

I would guess that a prerequisite of a legal definition is that of a group of participants agreeing one, and then lobbying our elected representatives for a response.

To achieve that you need to build the group of brewers. That could be a new group or the utilisation of a pre-existing one. That would require Brewdog to begin from a perspective of enlightened self-interest, accepting that winning cannot be achieved at the expense of other participants, as forcing them to lose is inviting them to walk away. The definition must ultimately suit all participants, or at least a wide enough group.

With that definition they can lobby the government of the day and make a reasonable case that what they are doing is in the interest of their industry, with wider economic benefit rather than a naked grab solely in the interest of their own shareholders.

Anonymous said...

... in related news, early tests of the BD mind control implants, installed in a select group of journos & bloggers recently, have been successful. "It's been great!", said a white-coated penguin, "I push this button here and they can't help talking about us. And even better, the effect seems to spread to nearby cynics!"

moleha4 said...

Presumably a national brewer such as Greene King would therefore brew "craft-style beer" if they were not allowed to use the c -word.

py said...

If you realyl must insist of defining it, surely you need to define craft as a quality of the beer itself, from which the definitions of craft brewery and craft beer bar automatically flow.

To try and define craft beer as beer brewed by a craft brewery is ass-backwards. No-one really gives a fuck how their beer was made, all they care about is what it tastes like.

Pivní Filosof said...

Until they are able to come up with a device that can get into the minds of the owners of a brewery to objectively determine if they are using this or that ingredient with the purpose of "lessen flavour and reduce costs", this definition will be a big pile of steaming bovine fecal matter.

And what is that "flavour" thing they're talking about? Can they measure it. Is there a "flavour" threshold below which your beer can't call itself craft anymore?

Zak Avery said...

I think it's great that anyone with a vested interest should try and define "craft beer" in a way that basically describes them. It's fully in accordance with the way that the Brewers Association, a body funded by small independent American breweries, has defined craft beer to mean "any brewery that falls within the parameters prescribed by our funding body".

DaveS said...

Yeah, economic protectionism for sure - and you can sort of see why they want to try it: they've spent years manically promoting the notion of "craft beer" and have finally got to a point where it's on the verge of being a box that pubs and off licenses want to have ticked - not necessarily in a "12 craft keg lines and over 200 international bottled beers" way, but certainly in a "couple of fairly obvious options in bottles in the fridge" way. But now there's a sniff of profit to be made, bigger breweries are moving in with "craft" sub-brands and will most likely use their existing distribution networks, tied estates etc to make sure that more often than not they're the ones ticking that box.

So yeah, it's obviously a bollix, but I can also see why they're annoyed.

Possibly they'd do better if they just focused on the honesty thing and a stronger feeling against the "same brewery, different name, different branding" wheeze.

Lord Egbert Nobacon said...

Craft Beer = Good beer that earns its reputation from taste rather than inane marketing and publicity stunts.

DavidS said...

And actually, I think I do care a bit about who brews my beer - I don't religiously avoid anything tainted by the devil of corporatism, but all else being equal I'd rather chuck my money at a brewery that's going to reinvest a lot of it in coming out with more really good beers that I'm interested in drinking than in one that mostly produces tepid shite that I wouldn't touch with a barge pole and who are going to reinvest a lot of it in making their shareholders richer.

Again, I don't think this latest Brewdog gambit is going to help much because I don't think it's going to go anywhere, but a bit more honesty in selling beer would certainly seem like a good thing.

Velky Al said...

I wonder how they feel about the Brewers Association in the US essentially disavowing the definition that BrewDog plagiarised?

Corn, rice, and other adjuncts are now perfectly acceptable for craft breweries, because brewing with them for about a century and a half has suddenly become traditional.

The only real reason Anheuser-Busch is not craft is that they are too big.

Anonymous said...

If there really has to be a definition it must pass the 'Fullers test'.

Are Fullers a craft brewery? Definitely.

The definition fails on point 4 at the very least.

Come to think of it most small brewery run or owned pubs would fail on 4.

Cooking Lager said...

@Avery Is the American definition legally protected? I think that is Brewdogs aim here.

@Stringer + any other brewers, As a smallish brewer does this definition suit you and your business?

@Any/All boozers Does this definition offer you any qualitative assurances regarding the products you buy? Are you bothered about other smallish established brewers like Hydes, Thwaites etc whose output may no longer be "craft" because of what their ties estate sells?

Erlangernick said...


Of course not. The various traditional English breweries will always be what "craft" is supposed to be.

py said...

Its not so much about "quality", but the word "Craft" along with a certain type of label design and font currently functions as a shorthand for consumers to expect certain flavour profiles from the beer.

If the new so-called "craft" products stick to those flavour profiles then the word will continue to have meaning; if they don't, then it won't, and people will resort to looking specifically for a trusted brewery name or hop type or some other descriptive characteristic.

StringersBeer said...

@py, No indeed, 'craft' doesn't make sense as a "quality of the beer". There's no way I can inject a beer sample into a craft-o-meter and get a definitive reading. Although, I suppose, you could consider the drinker(s) as such an oracle. Ask self-identifying craft-beer drinkers what they drink and there you go. Problem with that kind of thing is that it's unlikely to be stable. People go off things.

For me, 'craft' is (if it's anything) necessarily a quality of the producer (or the process).

@cookie - I don't care what the pooches say. They're in no way qualified to define anything for anyone else. Plus, they just make things up to suit themselves. Like they made this whole story up in the first place. As I pointed out above.

ABrewHaHa said...

craft beer is brewed by a craft brewery, a craft brewery is defined as one that brews craft beer.
I think that's it.

py said...

Two beers, identical in every way, served side by side. One is a craft beer, one isn't, because the day between the batches were made, Molson Coors bought shares in the brewery, or some other tenuous reason.

I don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

Point 4 would rule out Brodies (last time I was in their brewery tap there was more fosters and stella going over the bar than any thing craft). They brewed a collaboration at Brewdog, so we can assume that this beer at least ( ) is not a 'craft beer'. I like Brewdog for the way they have shaken up the brewing scene in the UK but this is a flawed definition.
Cheers, Tom
Mill Green Brewery

StringersBeer said...

@py, 2 anythings apparently identical, one handmade, one made by machine. Buy that?

StringersBeer said...

... or perhaps: 2 cups of coffee, one fairtrade, one not? These are analogies of course. So not terribly good.

py said...

Call me a cynic but I wouldn't pay more for something handmade just for the sake of it, and neither would I pay more for a beer because it comes from a brewery that happens to fit into a set of entirely arbitrary and self-serving criteria.

Fairtrade is something specific, as are words like British, local, microbrewed etc etc. I don't see the need for a "craft" designation if its just going to be a synonym for microbrewery.

StringersBeer said...

@py, and that's the problem with analogies. But what if the criteria weren't "entirely arbitrary and self-serving". For that matter, I don't believe anyone has restricted their craftdef to size alone.

Cooking Lager said...

This is another question it would be interesting to get a brewer perspective on. Is handmade any better?

If we are talking about craftsmanship in furniture then I might expect a craftsman to hand make it, though I'd expect some modern electric tools to be involved. Is it any better? Well maybe not but it might be unique and that may be what I want. A table different from anyoneelses rather than the same one that's also in hundreds of other houses. It's not necessarily better, just unique to me.

In beer, a process that requires precision and hygiene I suspect maybe machine made is better in the sense that less is likely to go wrong. Fewer technical faults. If you can machine make at low volumes, then you can create different beers but maintain quality.

Though I've never had a decent machine made cup of tea. Any decent cup of tea is made by hand, not vending machine. My Mum is a true crafts person of tea. Her tea is craft, even if she uses Yorkshire Gold tea bags.

Duuno, is hand made beer better?

I suspect volume isn't part of Brewdogs definition, what with them wanting world domination and high volumes.

py said...

I guess the question is: what is there that a "craft" brewery offers that a punter might actually want and be willing to pay for, that isn't either a) a quality of the beer, not the brewery, or b) something we already have a perfectly good word for anyway.

Dan Bloxham, BrewDog said...

To be totally forthright I am employed by BrewDog within production. As an employee I haven't always agreed with our stance on certain issues or the way things have been conducted, but they are what have got us to where we are now (Punk 5.6%, Hardcore and Dead Pony Club have never been better). I understand peoples misgivings, mistrust and general suspicion about everything that BrewDog as a company does and didn't expect any other reaction to this statement. However I think this reaction has clouded peoples judgement on what it is actually about. While the definition proposed by BrewDog is to a certain degree self serving it is only a suggestion to what the definition could be. The main point in proposing this is to generate a discussion by as many people in the industry so as to create a definition that suits the majority. By defining "Craft Beer" you create a safety barrier in between the large multi-nationals and the smaller brewers. Here is an example why I think this definition is important. 'You have a pub whose manager has little to no knowledge of beer but their regulars are expressing interest in the pub stocking some "craft beer". Without a definition they take a look at their usual suppliers catalogue and see two beers produced by Carling labelled as a craft beer. They order theses two beers, the locals try them once don't like them and the manager never bothers ordering craft beer again. Now look at the same situation with a definition of craft beer that prevents Carling from calling their beer craft. The pubs usual supplier doesn't sell any craft so the manager has a google and finds a local craft brewery two miles down the road.' I hope going forward people will start to realise that BrewDog and the majority of people who work here aren't the pantomime villains any more and that as a company there is a more mature and positive mentality beginning to emerge.

py said...

"the locals try them once, don't like them "

So what you're saying is, "craft" is a quality of the beer, NOT the brewery.

py said...

"you create a safety barrier in between the large multi-nationals and the smaller brewers."

Surely the fundamental difference between large and small brewers is the size. In which case, just say that. Promote microbrewed beer if thats what you are trying to protect.

DavidS said...

"I guess the question is: what is there that a "craft" brewery offers that a punter might actually want and be willing to pay for, that isn't either a) a quality of the beer, not the brewery, or b) something we already have a perfectly good word for anyway."

Basically, all the beers they produce apart from the one that you're buying, and all the beers they might produce if they can carry on expanding and experimenting.

If Thornbridge, say, get one of their beers into Wetherspoons as a token "craft" option, then it's a good thing for people who like Thornbridge beers in general because in the long run the money will help them to expand production, bring out new beers and so on.

If instead Spoons go with something from the Emerald Ruler Independent Craft Microbrewery of Bury St Edmunds then in the long run it'll help Greene King who turn out to be producing the Emerald Ruler stuff (who knew!) to buy some more breweries and shut them down or something.

Maybe a formal definition of "craft" isn't the answer here, but you need to be fairly blinkered to just say that if the beer's alright then it makes no difference who brews it.

py said...

That is a circular argument.

You are distinguishing Thornbridge from Greene King in your example because we both know that they make better beer. But if Greene King made better beer, your argument would work just as well the other way round. So ultimately it is the beer that matters.

StringersBeer said...

Did we forget the story's made up yet?

DaveS said...

"You are distinguishing Thornbridge from Greene King in your example because we both know that they make better beer. But if Greene King made better beer, your argument would work just as well the other way round. So ultimately it is the beer that matters."

Sure. And in that case I'd be annoyed if Thornbridge were trying to pass their beer off as being from a brewery other than themselves.

To reiterate, I'm not saying that Brewdog's approach is the right one, or that "craft beer" needs a definition or some sort of protected status. Just that bigger and less good brewers muscling in on the craft market is a bad thing for beer in general, and making it a bit harder for them to do so - or at least, letting the consumer know whether a beer is really from a small, independent brewery or is actually just a cunning branding exercise from someone else and letting them decide for themselves whether they care or not - would be a good thing for beer in general.

The same applies - Greene King moan again - to the faux guest ale thing that they do, too.

Cooking Lager said...

@Stringer Nope, but that should not stop an afternoon of talking bollocks. Don't know about you but it's sunny outside, I'm stuck on client site and need to at least appear to be working. At least typing at a computer. I could go out and play but then I couldn't invoice them a days rate. It makes for an expensive pint down the Spoons beer garden. I've no work tomorrow, so I shall booze then. Until then I'm glad of some online bollocks talking. So lets craft!

@Brewdog Dan there is an easy way to not be seen as a pantomime villain. Don't dress up as one. Don't act like one. Job done. But as a question, what happens when you are making more punk IPA than Coors are making Carling? When you are the global powerhouse of craft, exporting across the globe? Do the tables turn?

StringersBeer said...

@Cookie, of course, you're right. Bollocks it is.

py said...

"letting the consumer know whether a beer is really from a small, independent brewery or is actually just a cunning branding exercise from someone else and letting them decide for themselves whether they care or not - would be a good thing for beer in general."

I have no quibble with this, but once again, we're back to talking about brewery size as the fundamental distinction. There is no need for the word craft at all, we can just talk about microbreweries and macrobreweries.

StringersBeer said...

One thing @py, "small, independent" != "small"

On that alone, your "craft" == "micro" argument fails.

py said...

Depends what you mean by "independent". I don't think the means that a small brewery uses to raise capital has any bearing on the quality of its beer or people's willingness to think of it as a microbrewery.

StringersBeer said...

@py, no it doesn't. Else we could say that "fish & chips" is the same as "chips" (depending on what you mean by "fish"). Which is patently nonsense.

And yr 2nd point's goosed as well.

py said...

I don't follow you. what do you mean by "independent"? Entirely privately owned? Brewdog aren't.

Cooking Lager said...

Is independence a question of ownership? I own a business, or at least a ltd company. (not impressive, they cost buttons, google the formations company)

I usually have 1 client at any one time. It is really a form of legal tax efficient disguised employment. I own 100% of the shares in the company. It isn't independent in any way shape or form. It is 100% dependent at any given time on the client. I am more of a corporate whore or shill than the permies. The man who pays the piper calls the tune. I like to think I play a decent tune and will play any you like for the rate.

A small brewery with a big Tesco contract taking most of its output is less independent than one with multiple customers and partly owned by Coors.

Brewdogs lack of independence is in the % of output the big supermarkets take.

StringersBeer said...

No py, sorry, you'll have to explain why what I mean by "independent" makes the word meaningless. (making "small, independent" == "small") Just as I'd want you to explain why you only gave me chips when I asked for fish as well.

DavidS said...

"Not completely owned and controlled by another company" is the basic point. The issue being that some large tedious national or multinational brewer might well be aware that some people would rather support a smaller brewery, and set up a separate "microbrewery" under a different name while still controlling the output and (for instance) keeping the range as small and unadventurous as possible to maximize profit margins.

In any case, size isn't really the point so much as just knowing who you're dealing with so you can make a decision based on that. There are some fairly mediocre small breweries who I wouldn't go out of my way to support, and some excellent largeish ones who I would.

And as I keep saying, I don't think that having some sort of protected status for the word "craft" is the right answer, but the fact that Brewdog haven't got the right answer doesn't mean that they aren't asking a reasonable question.

StringersBeer said...

@cookie, the pooches could if they wished stop doing business w/ supermarkets without being fired or kicked off the board. An independent has to make money for sure, but is free(er) to decide how much money to make and who to deal with. If they so choose.

py said...

A microbrewery isn't a microbrewery if it is just part of a macrobrewery.

Half a cow is not a small cow.

A small non-independent brewery is not a small brewery, it is a subset of a large brewery.

"small, independent" is tautological.

Cooking Lager said...

@Stringer the freedom you describe is theoretical, not practical. A business really does not have the freedom to make less money.

If I had employees I would feel a sense of responsibility towards them. Sure I am free to refuse business lose money and sack them but in fact I am not really free.

My actions are dictated by my values. I would take the tesco contract to keep the lads on the line in work.

I guess we all like to think we are free, but having choices is not the same as being free and independent.

Most people would not actually want to be free. They actually like the burden and prison of the wife, kids, in laws.

StringersBeer said...

Cookie, I could pull the shutters down tomorrow and make no money. That's how free I am.

StringersBeer said...

@py, No. Otherwise there could be no large independent brewery. For if independent -> small, that would be a "small, large" brewery. Which is a contradiction.

DavidS said...

I think py's argument is that all breweries, large or small, are independent, because the point at which they stop being independent is the point at which they stop being distinct breweries.

I'm not sure whether this is actually the case or not, but it's essentially irrelevant hairsplitting over semantics, so I'm not sure why it's turned into such an issue.

StringersBeer said...

DavidS, it's relevant because py iss asserting the craft/micro identity so that we wouldn't need a new word. And as to whether a small non-independent brewery is a brewery, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, is marketed like a duck, it's a bleeding duck.

Cooking Lager said...

not if it's an american coot or waterfowl it's not. Jeez the ornithological awareness of beer geeks ain't what it was.

Time was, you could talk to a beer geek in the a beer garden and they could tell a mallard from a muscovy by it's quack, and then tell you the train engine specs from the sound of a distant choo choo all whilst telling you what was drinking well today.

Tandleman said...

Goodness. I leave you all alone for a few hours and find you squabbling about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Problem is, you are all a bit right, but no-one is completely right. Even py which is unheard of. Even if I amalgamated all the right bits, it wouldn't do for some. Or any probably. The thing is though that whatever craft is or isn't, the genie is out of the bottle and he ain't going back in any time soon.

Everyone will continue to know craft when they see it, but all will, or already have defined it in their own terms. So my craft isn't your craft and almost certainly not BrewDog's.

So on that note as soon as E has brought in some more bacon for me - that is - finished her work for today, I'm off for a pint of Lees. Craft? Dunno. It isn't keg, so maybe not. Or maybe on some other grounds. Who knows? Or is Lees Golden Original Lager keg?

It's all too hard.

Tandleman said...

Oops. Craft. See what I mean!

StringersBeer said...

Fulica americana, or any coot, does not quack like a duck.

py said...

DavidS - yes that is what I meant. I still think that we're basically reinventing the wheel here when the term "microbrewery" already covers the bases. What is the difference between a craft brewery and a microbrewery?

StringersBeer said...

Well, py, since you seem to hold that being (entirely or somewhat) owned by another entity somehow magically stops a brewery being a brewery it's difficult to think of an answer that would satisfy you. Perhaps someone else would have a stab.

py said...

I'm saying a brewery is either a seperate, independent brewery or it is not, in which case it is simply part of a larger brewery.

You seem to be inventing this concept of a brewery that is simultaneously separate but not independent. Thats a contradiction in terms, surely?

StringersBeer said...

It's not me that's inventing anything. Originally, microbrewery usually referred to the size of the operation. In recent years we've seen the term used to describe small plants, or small brands, regardless of their ownership. Personally, I'm happy with micro-brewery meaning micro-capacity. That seems meaningful to me. A brewery is a place, a machine, that brews beer. I don't have a problem with a large brewing concern having a small plant (or small brands) in their portfolio. I'm certain it enables the production of beers that they wouldn't otherwise be able to make.

I'm not, however, a micro-brewer. I'm not tall, mind, but I'm just a brewer. We own a microbrewery, but then so do Thwaites, Brains & Coors, and many more.

However, I get to do things with my microbrewery that other brewers, working with larger concerns, may find it hard to make a business case for.

Thing is, words change their meaning, things drift and extend. New ways of looking at things evolve. You can fight it if you like, but it's uphill.

cox said...

just had a moment of clarity, who the hell gives a fuck, there are much more important things than what is craft beer, I am embarrassed that I have contributed to this. Please please never mention this again, it is more boring than shitty sparkler conversations

StringersBeer said...

Yay! and that's the set! see here

Phil said...

The comment from Dan of BD is interesting. The argument seems to be that 'craft' is either meaningless marketing fluff (so we have Camden craft beer, Thwaites' craft beer, Wychwood craft beer, Carling craft beer) or it's tightly defined in a way that will protect the 'brand'.

What this misses out is a third possibility, which is that 'craft' actually means something: there is a real divide between brewers turning out the same old stuff and brewers trying new and different ideas, just as there's a real divide between megacorp breweries (like the one Stuart Howe works for) and independents (like Samuel Smith's), or between breweries producing mainly cask (like Hyde's) and those producing mainly keg (like BrewDog). And all of those divisions will still be a reality - and beer drinkers, many of whom aren't mugs, will still be able to spot them - irrespective of what anyone is calling 'craft', or why.

Put it this way: if the phenomenon called 'craft beer' is a reality, it doesn't matter whether anyone calls it 'craft beer' or not. And if it's not a reality, who cares what anyone calls it?

Anonymous said...

The Brewdog point one 'everything must be brewed at original gravity' is ostensibly to rule out the common practice among major breweries of brewing at high gravity and then diluting to sales gravity just before packaging. But what if this practice became widespread in micros? It's easy to imagine a small 5 barrel plant thinking "hey, after the fermentation has died down I could top up the headspace in the tank and get more beer from my small plant" At the sort of gravities for your ordinary bitter, this wouldn't even necessarily require the original gravity of the wort to be very high (certainly much lower than the gravities BD brews at for it's high ABV beers). Plenty of micros already 'liquor up' at the end of the boil, how is liquoring up at the end of fermentation any worse? Is it bad for the product? no. Is it damaging for the yeast? not at the gravities that micros would do it at. So the question is, what is it supposed to be about brewing at higher than sales gravity makes
this practice a craft beer no no? I can't see anything bad with it except that it is what the major breweries all uniformly do. But it is such a simple thing there's nothing stopping micros doing it, and who is to say it wasn't even done in the olden days?

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