So the boys at BrewDog are making a serious attempt at a corporate takeover of “Craft Beer”, a public domain brand. According to this press release (sorry, companies don't write blogs) they want to put an official, industry definition:
... firstly to protect craft brewers and what we are building; secondly to guide consumers in this new and emerging category in the UK; thirdly to ensure that true craft brewers can charge a fair and sustainable price for their masterpieces; and fourthly to enable craft beers to grow as strongly in the UK as they have in America.And the definition they propose is the following:
A European Craft Brewery:I'm not going to comment on these points*. Those who follow this blog will know my opinion already, suffice to say that I agree with some, disagree with others. As I see it, BrewDog want to start their own private club and they will get to decide who will be eligible for membership. Fair enough.
1) Is Small. Brews less than 500,000 HL annually. *see point 3 below2) Is Authentic. a) brews all their beers at original gravity b) does not use rice, corn or any other adjuncts to lessen flavour and reduce costs3) Is Honest. a) All ingredients are clearly listed on the label of all of their beers. b) The place where the beer is brewed is clearly listed on all of their beers. c) All their beer is brewed at craft breweries.4) Is Independent Is not more than 20% owned by a brewing company which operates any brewery which is not a craft brewery.
The problem I have, however, is that this definition fails to address the most important concern for us, consumers, quality. None of those four points can guarantee me good beer, or at the very least, well made beer, which is in fact what we all want. Some of the worst beers I've had in my life were made by breweries that fit perfectly into this definition of craft and yet, the beers were rubbish, objective rubbish. They were beers that should have never been poured into a glass, beers that should have never left the brewery and even beers that should have never been made to begin with, but, according to BrewDog's proposed definition they would be able to proudly and officially call themselves “Craft”.
If these people really want to make “Craft Beer” something akin to a certification, then it will have to contemplate quality standards, otherwise, official or not, it will still be just a brand. But I'd like to believe their aim is higher than that, so I suggest the following points, or something along those lines, should be added to the definition:
- The person in charge of production at a craft brewery must be at all times someone with at least, say, 3 years of professional experience. Start up breweries that don't meet this requirement will have to wait three years, without changing their head brewer, before they can apply for the certification. (I believe that if we can discriminate based on size and ownership, we can also discriminate based on professional expertise.)
- A craft brewery will apply certified quality control processes, which can be audited at any time by an eventual organisation.
- Unless sold directly to the public, craft beer can only be sold and distributed by certified vendors, who must also comply with standards regarding conditions of transport, storage, dispensing and training of their staff.
You know? I've never drunk Blue Moon, but I would really, really love to. It's been so maligned by some business interests and their brainwashed fanboys, that I'm beginning to get the impression that it's one hell of a good beer, otherwise, why are those business interests so afraid of it? Because, that's what it is, fear. They are afraid that the industrial breweries have decided to make beer that can compete in terms of flavour and image, and they hate that because in one sip it brings down much of the discourse they've been building all these years: big beer = bad – small beer = good.
They tell us we must hate Blue Moon, and other similar beers. Not because of their taste or value. No! We must hate it because it's made by an evil megamultinational corporation that, contrary to the “Spirit of Craft Beer” (I wish I was making this shit up), hide their true identity from the public. Apparently, there are people who actually believe this fairy tale and are convinced that if Molson-Coors would openly admit that they are the ones behind Blue Moon everybody will stop drinking it and would run to the embrace of Craft Beer. Well, let me tell it to you this way:
NOBODY FUCKING CARES!
Really, whether we like it or not, most people do not give a scuba diving fuck about who makes their beers, any more than they do about who makes their I-crap, their jeans or their merchandise t-shirts. People buy a beer because they feel it is good enough to pay for it, and not because they want to make a point (well, some actually might buy a beer for reasons that have nothing to do with the beer itself, but they are a tiny minority).
Is that good? Well, I don't think it is. We should all be more responsible and informed. We should be more sceptical with the things people who want our money tell us. We should question them more, all of them, big and small, because small companies can be every bit as cunts as big ones, corporate size is not in inverse proportion to virtue.
So, stop whining and grow up already! If you make good beer and know how to sell it, you've got little to fear.
*Of course I will comment! If the use adjuncts and and HGB in order to save costs is something to contrary to “craft”, shouldn't the same apply to gimmicky ingredients and processes that only increase prices in a bigger proportion than the additional costs? Just saying.