Like any craft beer related blog, we need to talk about what craft is. Here are some possible criteria: craft means small, craft means good beer, craft means unique, craft means made with love of beer. All of these definitions seem to get at an aspect of what people think of when they think of craft. I asked my friend what she thought of when she heard “craft” beer. “Someone standing over the brew kettle with a big wood stirring stick, stirring beer. Maybe not that small, but that’s the idea.” Others think that it means independently owned, which is basically the criteria used by the Craft Brewers Association. Years ago before I had much experience with beer, I used to think of craft as any really hoppy IPA, basically those made by Stone, Sierra, and Lagunitas because those were the craft breweries big enough to make an impression in the mainstream. Nowadays, maybe craft beer is most associated with hazy IPAs. But defining craft beer isn’t so cut and dry. Is it about uniqueness? Could a well-made lager be just as craft as a mango, lime, grapefruit, vanilla hazy IPA made with marshmallows. Would it change your mind if the hazy IPA was brewed by Budweiser (or one of its acquired subsidiaries)? Like if I pulled one of those marketing ploys where I put Budweiser’s latest hazy IPA in non-descript can next to Brouerij West’s latest and you tasted them and loved the Bud, would it shake your worldview, or is craft more than that? Is it just the size of the brewery? Then what do we consider Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, which has been around for a generation but has never changed in all that time, but is now made by one of the largest breweries in the world? Is it still craft? I think yes; many people would agree, but how is that different than the big breweries that are never considered craft?

1 thought on “What is craft?

  1. I think that “craft beer” means created by a company that is primarily quality-driven over profit-driven. It relies on soft factors, but so does the feeling of being craft. What do you think about that?

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