The more people try to define ‘Craft Beer’ the more I am getting annoyed. Should it be down to size, how many hops they use or, are they only craft if they produce a keg product? The problem is not within the question, it’s the answer that is wrong.
‘Craft’, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary online;
- an activity involving skill in making things by hand: the craft of cobbling [mass noun]: art and craft
- (crafts) work or objects made by hand: the shop sells local crafts (as modifier craft) a craft fair
- [in singular] the skills in carrying out one’s work: the artist learned his craft in Holland
- the members of a skilled profession.
- (the Craft) the brotherhood of Freemasons.
- 2 [mass noun] skill used in deceiving others: her cousin was not her equal in guile and evasive craft
- 3(plural )a boat or ship: sailing craft
- an aircraft or spaceship.
Obviously, when referring to the production of beer it is the first point that is relevent, a ‘skill in making something by hand’. It is easy to see how this will apply in brewing, but to me it ends up muddying the water more, and which is why I believe this is the wrong term to use. A ‘craft brewery/brewer’ would produce their beer by hand, which skill and knowledge. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t do what it is supposed to. As an example, who would consider Greenfields Brewery a craft brewer? Well, not even themselves, they make ‘real ale’. But check out the ‘Brewing Process’ tab on their website. They brew on a basic Porter brewing kit, which I know from experience is a very ‘hands on’ brewkit.
On the other side of the coin, take Thornbridge Brewery. I think most would happily consider Thornbridge a ‘craft brewer’, and they do have their smaller Hall brewery, but the bigger Riverside brewery uses the newest technology. With the computer systems they have greater control over the brewing process, in theory producing better beer. But is that ‘craft’? I wouldn’t say it is not, but it is obviously less so by definition than Greenfields Brewery.
By using size as a way of definition is completely inappropriate, as with the two examples above Greenfields are obviously much smaller than Thornbridge. It would be possible to put an upper cap on size, but that mean every brewery that falls within the limits are a ‘craft brewer’? If so, then we are back to sqaure one.
So what do I think is a craft brewer? Well again looking at the Oxford Dictionary I think they have it spot on.
craft beer (craft beer)