“It’s got a groove, it’s got a meaning”
For those playing along at home, yes I am attempting to channel a little John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in ‘Grease’ because hell yeah when it comes to the subject of beer, craft does has a groove, craft certainly has a meaning.
In recent years that meaning has been debated, a lot. It seems like every other week I am reading an article about the definition of craft beer, whether is it about an overwhelming need for a definition or a questioning whether its really such a big deal.
“It’s been a depressing spectacle this last couple of years watching people who share a love of great beer tear each other apart over trying to define what craft beer is.”
Pete Brown, 2013
The argument for a solid definition of a “craft beer” and “craft brewer” can sometimes feel like a call to action, for all small and independent brewers to unite and take a stand to ensure that the big brewers, the giant corporations, don’t get their grubby mitts in the craft beer pie.
Article – Brewdog: Defining Craft Beer
Article – Brewdog: Defining Craft Beer – Take 2
“Legal definitions are everywhere and are designed to protect a product’s reputation from poor imitations.”
Those big brewers, giant corporations, like Carlton United and Lion Nathan have their craft beer range of beers, Matilda Bay and James Squire respectively and I often see debate in the social media world as to their credentials. The big brewers are too big, owned by an overseas company and produce too much for these beers to be labelled craft.
Or are they?
How relevant is the size of production or the ownership of the brewery? In relation to the current Brewer’s Association (US) definition its very relevant. It defines craft beer by how much beer the brewer produces, the ownership of the brewery and the method by which they brew. Read the full definition at the Brewers Association website here.
CBIA: A national body which represents the Australian craft brewing industry
A little closer to home we have our CBIA, the Craft Beer Industry Association, which defines craft beer in a much more simple but still meaningful way –
“Craft beer is borne of a mindset, an idea between art and science that inherently requires the skill of a brewer”
Though I am sure many people would disagree with the above, calling for specific outlines and guidelines, it resonates with me because my personal definition of craft currently lies more with intention than it does ownership.
For me the word “craft” is still relevant and it still has meaning but its not what defines the industry, its not what it was built on nor what will continue its growth. Craft brewing means to me that the brewers are creating something they love and that they want others to enjoy, it’s about creating beer with the best ingredients they can get for the beer they want to create and whether they are trying to replicate a long respected style or create their own, the final product is something made with passion and integrity. Call it craft, call it small batch, call it artisanal, as someone who loves beer these words get my attention but my decision to drink these beers rests on so much more.
Article – Draft: The meaning behind craft beer
I read articles calling for a definition of craft beer and I don’t disagree with the argument, I think I just feel there is more happening in the industry, more pressing issues than a single word that require attention. Of course I say this knowing I am on the outskirts of this amazing industry. I don’t own a brewery, nor do I brew beer and nor does my income depend solely on the continued growth of craft beer. I am a blogger, a cheerleader at best and there is so much about beer worthy of pom poms and summersaults – brewing innovation, the diversity of flavour, the celebration of tradition and availability of international beers alongside beers that were brewed a few kilometres from home. Let’s celebrate all this and not get caught up in the little things like a single word. Get caught up in beer, it’s much more fun.