Friday, 11 February 2011

Defining Craft Beer


Mark Dredge from Pencil and Spoon has thrown the question "Is there such a thing as UK Craft Beer?" out into the internet ether.

This has been discussed with some people arguing that the craft beer moniker for some British beer is a misnomer and should only be used when in reference to beer produced by our American ale cousins on the other side of the Atlantic. This is a rather knee jerk, rigid and dogmatic response that maintains that under no circumstances should the term "craft beer" or "craft beer revolution" be used to describe the product or the upturn in interest and sales of some of our most exciting and progressive brewers and breweries.

Others, Mr Dredge included, consider it an apt name to describe and quantify the new brewers on the British beer scene who embody, exhibit and bring new levels of passion, creativity, experimentation and eclecticism into their beer craft. When I hear these words referring to British beer, I think of the following breweries - Dark Star, Thornbridge, Brewdog, Hardknott, Fyne Ales, Kernel, Marble, Moor, Redemption among others. These breweries are pushing the beer boundaries and are radically different from what has gone before. Many have been inspired by the U.S. and are using a range of hops and flavours that would have been unimaginable a few years ago. They are clearly doing something radical, something different and distinct from many other UK breweries.

Should we therefore create a new category of definition to differentiate these beers and breweries from the rest?

Yes. I think so. But I don't think that it should be the term 'Craft Beer'


Well, I've always been wary of the U.S. linguistic imperialism that seems to be creeping into the lexicon of our language. Words and phrases such as '24/7', 'Step up to the Plate', 'OMG', 'Awesome' and 'Craft Beer' are Americanisms that deserve to stay on the other side of the Atlantic.

Personally, I prefer the phrase 'Artisan Ale' or 'Artisan Beer' rather than 'Craft Beer'.

It conjures up an image in my mind of people making beer for the sheer love, pleasure and passion of it. Making it to be enjoyed and experienced and the beer produced being an end in itself and not simply a means to an end.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't really matter what it is labelled or pigeon holed as.

Good beer is good beer. Just get it opened, poured and enjoyed.

Have a nice weekend.



  1. How about the term "Dredge Beer" meaning any given beer Dredgie likes.

  2. @cooking lager

    How about pigeon holing them all as DABs?

    Dredgie's "Awesome" Beers

  3. DABs work for me :)

    I think artisan risks becoming elitist whereas craft still sticks it down the middle. I do think a name to cover these beers would be good (I like names, I like categories, it makes things easier to understand!)

  4. @mark

    surely any interpretation of a 'craft beer' definition is purely subjective? And also would it not be too vague that it would render any meaningful definition redundant?

    Artisan may lean slightly on the elitist side but surely so does 'craft beer'?

    never mind. It's friday.

    roll on DABs o'clock

  5. well with no offence to mark, but i think if were going down that route we need to use DABs, as Dredge beers just sound like theve been brewed with water from the bottom of a murky canal

  6. I quite like the term "craft beer". To me it brings to mind the image of smaller breweries run by people who have a passion for beer. It also brings to mind quality and innovation.

    Although I didn't know that the term came from America.

    Artisan Ale is OK, but it does seem a bit too elite. Have a good weekend !!!

  7. Isn't DAB a brewery in Dortmund? ;)

    In all seriousness though how about this, we just call beer, beer. I know it is a radical notion, but if beer is just beer, then perhaps we beer bloggers (if you write your own HTML are you a craft or artisan blogger?) could just write about beer in general and give our thoughts on flavours and aromas we experience, without obsessing endlessly on the business making said beer?

  8. @Velky Al

    as I said in my post -

    'good beer is good beer'

    I'm not fussed what it's called as long as it adheres to the above maxim.