My Argument Against "Craft" Beer

Ok, ok. Just hear me out. It isn’t what it sounds like. If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with craft beer. If you don’t know me, that’s pretty odd that you are reading this… BUT THANK YOU!!! I hope you come back!

I recently got my BJCP tasting exam results back and I’m preparing for the written, as well as planning on taking the Certified Cicerone Exam within the next couple of months. So I’m getting deep into every aspect moreso than ever before.

Brewers Association Craft Beer Production Volume
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A few years ago, I was just one of those happy kids who was first getting into craft beer and I chased down every new release from all of my favorite breweries. I still do that with my number one favorite, but how could I not support them?

In all of my research and studying, I was taken back. I began to think about where we are today and all of the changes I’ve seen in this very short 5 year span in the grand history of beer. Things I didn’t even begin to notice until about my third year in beer. So, just think about everything I still have to learn and experience.

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Where we sit now is the greatest time that has ever existed for Craft Beer. Thinking about that, was it not common to hear Microbrew when referred to “our” beers not that long ago? To my understanding “craft beer” first began it’s usage in the 1980’s. And it wasn’t even a commonality at that time. “Craft Brewing” was how it was referred. It was about the movement that was happening in America. The way our beer was hand crafted vs the industrial methods that were sadly sweeping the country. Recently it has been used to describe the new generation of beer around the world but it’s origins seem to be with the early pioneers that were tired of what they were tasting, and for that, we praise today.

Now I understand that we want to differentiate ourselves. Make the market distinction obvious to those casual consumers, especially the ones that don’t know any better. But as one who is well versed in our community, and flipping back through a little history, why can’t we simply call it beer?

Do you see what I mean, now? I don’t go around telling people I drink craft beer. Or that I’m going out for a few craft beers. I just use “Beer”. I’m going to “X Brewery”, “X Bar”. I feel at a point, the thing speaks for itself.  It becomes quite obvious. I make sure to know who, to the best of my ability, makes a profit off of each pour I purchase. This is something the majority of consumers don’t think about… but then again, maybe it’s the appeal of the word craft, that people love.

Before the time of the microbrew, was it not just a pint of Ale or Lager? In 1516, do you think they had fancy names for the beers being created at that time? In today’s beer world, the distinction between craft and not so is being blurred. Crafty is a thing. Big business tactics are happening in the wake of the little guys. Certain aspects are still about the joy and community, but others quickly pull you back in to realize beer is a business. First & foremost. So where is the point where you quit acting like a little guy and accept that you are in fact in another league?

craft-vs-crafty
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I don’t mean like the big three. That is a whole different ball game. But the way a business operates and sells across the country. The number of barrels that are produce and sold each year. There is a difference between those just scraping by and those who can essentially rely on their consumers for years to come. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just the way things are.

To me, craft isn’t about a definition. It’s about the way you treat your product and care about your community. While a company may try to separate themselves from corporate beer, does the scale of your brewery not introduce you into that world? The number of breweries or specific off shoot locations you own, do they not paint that picture?

Even with the Brewers Association defining craft beer and then adjusting the definition to keep the biggest brewers from losing the distinction, I wonder, why does it matter? Even if my favorite brewery went above that line, their beers, again, speak for themselves. No if, ands, or butts about it. Everything they do for the beer community as well as the charitable events and support they offer, really goes to show their passion. A side of their character you wouldn’t see from those that we do not label with the craft name. And surprisingly enough, at the end of the day, they still need to worry about their profit margin.

These breweries are machines, filled with passionate people. Creating experiences that we all share. Ones we look far into the future for. While I’m not saying they don’t deserve to use the title craft, I just feel we are at a point in time where it is not necessary.

Cheers!

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My Argument Against "Craft" Beer

7 thoughts on “My Argument Against "Craft" Beer

  1. Recently, I've been wondering the same thing “why can't we simply call it beer”?

    The examples that drive me crazy are the companies that are suddenly bought up by one of the big-three. One day, Goose Island was a Craft Brewery. The next day it wasn't the beer itself didn't change from one day to the next.

    And I wonder what's going to happen when Sam Adams or New Belgium surpass the 6 million barrel mark. Is the definition going to change again? If so, what was magical about 6 million? For that matter, what was magical about the 2 million barrels before?

    —-

    Off subject a little, but you mentioned the BJCP. Do you know where to get the 2014 version of the BJCP Guidelines? http://www.bjcp.org/ says they will be published by the end of 2014 and “live” in 2015, but I don't see anywhere on the site to get the “official” guidelines.

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  2. Real quick on the BJCP… I don't know! Lol I'm wondering myself. In the forum I heard they are on a final revision of the final draft but that came from a person that responded to a thread. No idea if/how they are connected or if they just heard/assumed that. I really want to get my hands on them. I only have the draft version, atm.

    And exactly on the craft thing. Sophie & Matilda still taste the same to me… I was under the impression my taste buds were supposed to reject it immediately 😉

    I wonder if we could find what is impressive about the 2 million mark initially and if they thought by raising out to 6 million of they would avoid this issue in the future. Who isn't to say Sam Adams will, just less than, triple in size? Sierra Nevada & New Belgium are a touch behind but with new facilities opening, production increasing, and entering new markets, how long will it take for them to get danger close?

    Thanks for reading!

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  3. Yes, exactly. That 6-Million mark was just an arbitrary number picked out of the air. I am sure you are correct that the BA thought was safe to “avoid this issue in the future”.

    Let me know if you hear anything on the new BJCP standards. The last draft I looked at was quite some time ago, but it looked like things were going to be quite different in the new one. I am fine waiting for the new documentation, but it would be nice to at least know what the plan is.

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    1. Kind of moved then forgotten. Got busy with work and haven’t had a chance to do much of anything. Trying to restore it all but tedious… Trying to figure out where to go from here. Cheers!

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  4. WOW! I learned some stuff today. Thanks for this Allen. I didn’t know you were such the beer beast.

    This Cicerone certification is intriguing. Question: can you do something about getting more braggots into the market?

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