Jasper of Camden Town Brewery (London) was in Perth at the end of May talking beer and enjoying the sunshine. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview Jasper over a coffee and some breakfast.
We chatted for over an hour about how Camden came to be in Australia, the craft beer scene in the UK compared to here, the need for a definition on craft beer, the formation of a new association for British craft brewers – United Craft Brewers, Camden’s sour program and the new brewery Camden are building. In short, we talked a lot about some really cool stuff.
Big thanks to Sarah from Memorable Drinks and Jasper from Camden Town Brewery for letting me conduct this interview on such short notice and with such a tight schedule, much appreciated.
Here we go with Part Three …
Does the definition of “craft beer” matter?
“Yeah. Absolutely. 100%,” said Jasper when I asked him this question.
It’s a question that is pretty loaded in the beer industry with opinions divided on whether a definition is needed, what it would achieve and what will happen to the industry without it.
“Defining it is the hard thing,” Jasper said. “But there’s a lot of shit stuff out there that ain’t craft but that is trying to call itself craft.”
United Craft Brewers
“We need to define craft because it’s not a fad,” Jasper continued.
“Craft beer is different but it’s not different as in alternative, it’s a different method of thinking and a different process and it has to be defined because without it lots of things that aren’t craft can snap on the back of it so it’s really, really important and especially for the consumer so they can understand what is the difference between me and Budweiser.”
Whilst it may seem obvious what the difference between Camden and Budweiser is, there are instances where the lines are blurred. For instance here in Australia the debate is normally around Matilda Bay and James Squire, both owned by foreign companies, SAB Miller and Kirin respectively. Are they craft or are they not?
“You’ve got a lot of what we would call “crafty beers” in the market, big brewers making beers to look like they’re small brewers but they’re not and ‘small’ doesn’t mean scale, ‘small’ means thought process. Sierra Nevada is massive but the way they think is tiny,” Jasper explains.
To grow and protect the craft beer industry Jasper along with James Watt from BrewDog, Logan Plant from BeaverTown, James Clay from James Clay importers and distributors and Richard Burhouse from Magic Rock Brewing recently announced the formation of the United Craft Brewers, an association for British craft brewers.
But how will the United Craft Brewers go about defining craft brewers? At these early stages, the announcement of the association was only made a couple of weeks before our interview, Jasper said it will include brewers making beer at true gravities and those not being owner by a major brewery. The ownership piece is important in terms of who gets to make the decisions rather than the scale of operations.
The association is an open group, meaning it’s not just for brewers,
“Without everyone it’s nothing,” Jasper added.
Well that’s almost it for my interview with Jasper, just enough content for one more post I reckon so keep an eye out for the fourth and last instalment.