The end of “craft beer”

A few days ago I read this post about the phrase ‘‘craft beer’’ from Luke at Ale of a Time.

On Twitter he had apologised for what he called an unedited rant, but he needn’t have bothered. It still reads quite well and, anyway, a bit of passion in writing is a good thing. If you’re too lazy to click the link and read what he said for yourself, the gist is this – he hates the phrase ‘‘craft beer’’ intensely and pledges to never use the word craft again (unless as a proper noun, while referring to knitting or commenting on a sailing ship). Instead he will just call it beer.

I reckon it’s a cause to get behind. As I feel like a relative newbie – having only been drinking good beer for about two years and been geeky for it for the last year – I’ve been happy to call it craft beer. Because I didn’t want those more beer aware than I to laugh at my ignorance.

Which is part of what Luke is getting at – plenty of people seem to build up a sense of snobbishness about ‘‘craft beer’’, seeing themselves as above the ordinary beer drinker who is too stupid to know what’s good for them.

I agree with Luke. I too have secretly hated the term ‘‘craft beer’’. It’s clumsy, awkward and barely better than the odious ‘‘boutique beer’. I don’t know what ‘‘craft beer’’ means or how to define what is or isn’t craft beer. Hell, the industry itself can’t even decide who gets to call themselves a craft brewer, so how the hell am I supposed to know?

Anyway, if the industry did come up with a definition it wouldn’t mean a damn thing to me. Wouldn’t stop me from buying a beer that fell outside that definition because, when you get right down to it, I don’t like craft beer, I like good beer. And I don’t much care where it comes from.

To be honest, I don’t care all that much about big breweries trying to horn their way into the craft market. (with one exception – they can’t try and deceive the drinker by creating some fake brewery name to put on the label. If Anheuser-Busch is making the beer, they should be putting their name on the label). Nor could I muster much outrage when Little Creatures was bought out. I figured, ‘‘hey, lets actually wait and see what they do before we get all indignant’’.

So, like Luke, I’m not going to use the phrase any more either. As a signifier, ‘‘good’’ works better than ‘‘craft’’ anyway. I’ll tell people I like beer and if they want clarification beyond that, they can ask for it.
I’m sure as hell not going tell them ‘‘I am a craft beer drinker’’. That’s a reference to a video I’d not heard of before reading about it in Luke’s post. For your amusement – or perhaps disgust – here it is in all its self-important, smug glory.

Incidentally, it seems that most of the people in that video work in the industry in some capacity. That’s pretty dishonest if you ask me, because they’re passing themselves off as merely consumers, rather than people with a financial stake. Could you imagine how angry beer geeks would be if Miller or Anheuser-Busch did something like that?

But more importantly I don’t see myself in this video at all. What I do see is a stack of pretentious, superior types who are convinced that their choice of beer somehow makes them a better person.

It’s a video that screams ‘‘I am better than you’’. A video that paints those who love good beer as elitist snobs and those who like mainstream beer as simple-minded fools who don’t know any better. A video that seems to say being a ‘‘craft beer drinker’’ is about style rather than substance. Just listen to the words they use to describe the beer they love – innovative, independent, collaborative, trendsetting, style, integrity, quality, boundary-pushing, non-conformist. All words that describe a beer’s image rather than its taste.

I don’t know about you, but I drink beer for the taste, not the image. And from now on, the beer I drink is ‘‘good’’, not ‘‘craft’’.

5 replies »

  1. With you on not liking the craft or boutique beer lables but by saying that you plan to only drink good beer (a worthy resolution) does that mean that lurking somewhere out there is evil beer?

  2. I’ve never seen this “I’m a craft beer drinker” video before. Makes me want to punch myself in the face. What is up with that soundtrack. Pass the Grey Poupon,

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