As someone who makes a living out of languages and loves to have fun with them, I facepalmed when I read the press release of Česká a Moravská Pivní Koruna. Not because of who was awarded (disclaimer: in January, the organisers asked me to nominate 10 minipivovaru, which I did, and then invited me to be part of the jury that would choose the winners, which I wasn't, so I don't know what criteria was applied; in any case it's irrelevant), but because of what they were awarded for: being the best Craft Pivovary in the country.
Craft Pivovar? What the lagering fuck is that?
I'd heard it mentioned in certain beer circles and I always dismissed it as “bollocks people say”. This is the first time, however, that I've seen it printed in an “official fashion”, but it doesn't make it any less stupid; quite the contrary, in fact. It is also further proof of how silly and redundant the ”řemeselné pivovar” denomination is, and has always been.
Last week, when I commented that last bit on FB, Zemské Pivo took issue on Twitter, which prompted a lengthy but civil debate on the matter. I won't link to it, nor embed it here (following an old Twitter conversation is disheartening, especially when more than two parties are involved and hashtag-prefixed are liberally thrown around) I will tell you why I believe řemeselné pivo(var) is a waste of time and intelligence. Bear with me.
It's redundant because we already have a denomination in widespread use that does a perfect job: minipivovar. Zemksé Pivo argues that it's not enough because it refers only to the size of a brewery and not its philosophy, approach or heart, or whatever. Notwithstanding the vagueness of those words, they're still wrong. Hospody nowadays tout ”piva z minipivovarů” just like “Craft beer” is touted by bars in other countries, which I see as clear indication that for the average Honza, minipivovar means a lot more than just a annual production volume bracket. And there's an alternative in case it was not seen as encompassing enough. The other day, the father of one of my daughter's classmates told me that when he goes on trips he likes visiting the local soukromné pivovary (which can be translated as “independent breweries”). I've heard it enough times to make me believe that it carries the same meaning as minipivovar, at least for people who might not know what IPA stands for, but still prefer to drink something other than Europivo. In contrast, I don't remember ever seeing řemeselné pivo in the wild.
There is, by the way, one detail that the řemeselnists seem to ignore (or conveniently forget): what we, and the entire world, understands as Traditional Czech Beer is not the product of idealistic iconoclasts fulfilling their dream of making the world a better place one půllitr a time, but a child of the industrial revolution; the birth of Pilsner Urquell, the most iconic of Czech beers, is a great example of that. But that is not why I think řemeselné pivo(var) is silly.
What Zemské Pivo et al are trying to do is shoehorn into the Czech beer vernacular a concept (for lack of a better word) that's been co-opted and debased by various business interests and marketing illusionists, to the point that a growing number of people are wondering whether it ever had any meaning to begin with, only because they feel that the words Czechs use to describe the very same thing are too objective and not romantic enough. Even if I shared that view (which I don't), I wouldn't see any need to import and translate an empty label when the Czech language already has a word for it: Poctivé. I know that I sort of dismissed it a few years back, but regardless, it is still a beautiful word, and one that, unlike řemeselné, needs no explanation; everyone will understand what Poctivé Pivo is. And maybe that's the problem? After all, “Craft” in any language mutation is known to have been used as an excuse for poor consistency and less than stellar brewing skills and attention to detail (as well as inflated prices).
But what would I know, I'm just an opinionated pisshead.