I think the penny might have dropped in the USA that the term ‘craft beer’ actually, when it all boils down to it, means absolutely fuck all!
This article ‘Mother Earth wades into craft beer label debate’ highlights the problem that appears to be manifesting itself in the States with bigger breweries trying to muscle in on the craft beer market. And why shouldn’t they? Isn’t America the land of the free market anyway? Surely anything goes?
Of course I’m being a bit mischievous here but it does highlight the problem that a nebulous category like ‘craft beer’ faces. I’m seeing the term ‘craft beer’ used more and more in the UK and whilst I’ve enjoyed a number of beers that might carry that label I have to say that the term ‘craft’ is essentially pretentious bollocks!
Exactly what is a craft beer anyway?
Beer is either real (live) or it is dead. There are good and bad in both kinds. Quite frankly I don’t greatly mind what size the brewery is as long as the beer is of a quality and taste that I enjoy. My preference will always be for real ale when it’s available and of a reasonable quality. I accept that just because a beer is real ale and is from a small brewery it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will be any good. Likewise a beer from a multi-national might not always be bad. Quality is more important than trendy labels. Real ale is relatively easy to define, craft beer means nothing. Craft beer is for the type of people that have an iPhone, shop at Asda or would happily eat out at Nandos; Those that go for image over substance. Craft beer could be a threat to real ale if society continues to head towards a marketing man’s paradise. So expect the return of Watney’s Red Barrel sometime soon!