I’m an American and so my cultural reference points are based in N. America. So it’s a tad funny when the BBC puts up this newsmagazine piece:
Quite the snark from the Brits. Fair enough, I suppose.
One thing this really does point to, however, is how effective the Brewers Association is at grabbing attention and doing advocacy. Or if not effective, then at least loud enough to grab attention. What’s important, though, is that in the debate over craft vs. crafty vs. gyspsy vs. nano vs. whatever, one of these definitions is going to achieve a kind of hegemonic status, or you’ll end up with a ghettoization of defnitions into theoretical schools of thought, and getting the BBC to trumpet your definition of “craft” is a win:
Visit a chrome-surfaced bar in London, Stockholm or Amsterdam and you’re likely to find Brooklyn Lager, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Odell’s porter on tap.
All are craft beers – a catch-all term defined by the American Brewers Association as the product of “small, independent and traditional” producers.
All I wish is that a) there was more beer on tap here, and b) that it was something from the Brooklyn or Sierra Nevada breweries. I had dinner this week at the one English pub I know of in town and they surprisingly had a pitcher of beer listed on the menu (only place I’ve seen that in Santa Cruz), so we ordered it. But, it was basically just a bomber or two of flat Autentica poured into a pitcher. Bummer, that.
In the craft vs. crafty debate, I’m fairly ambivalent. I like Blue Moon, and I like that it’s widely available. I’m glad that a friend back in Wisconsin can bring home cases of it because SABMiller provides him a job. Granted, not all of the Blue Moon brands are particularly good, so avoid them. If you get even snippier, down to the craft vs. gyspsy debate, I go back to the word “craft,” or even “artisan” and “farmhouse,” which evoke somebody brewing in their kitchen, shed, or barn at a very small and infrequent scale. It’s no disrespect intended to those who’ve put in decades of sweat and tears to make their business work…although in writing that I realize that it reeks of subtle disrespect.
So let me rephrase that: while ambivalent on say, a principled level, I’ll still express a preference for the smaller business that could use my support and business as well. It’s not pure capitalist economics, but I’m not purely a rational consumer, and I’m allowed to make decisions on such irrational aesthetics as how a brewery makes or markets their product.