Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Defining Craft Beer

How do you define craft beer?
It seems everybody these days is a 'craft' something or other. But who or what defines the term? Is it simply a function of scale, or is it a measure of quality? I have to say I'm consistently shocked while visiting the various beer rating sites. Often I'll look up reviews of old world classic beers; you know, the ones that have been brewed for centuries in the same place or by monks who have taken a vow of silence. It's not uncommon to see these beers score fairly poorly relative to the newer and exotic upstarts. Not that new beers are bad, it's just that many of them are significantly unrefined compared to traditional offerings. Just scroll through any social media and you'll quickly come across pictures of these so called craft beers- and they're easy to spot: a pilsner that looks more like a Belgian wit for example. Belgian wits are excellent but I like my pilsners filtered crystal clear; dare I say the style demands it? Heck, given how many extremely cloudy bordering on lurid beers are on the market now, I'd settle for bright (no pun intended but it works). And what of those old German beers brewed according to the strictest brewing laws anywhere? Should they not be the gold standard or at least top of the class? Anybody can make a hoppy ale, but true craft lies in the details. Try brewing a light lager, the simple profile leaves you absolutely nowhere to hide. I think my point is best summed up by borrowing from a Top Gear episode where Hammond is reviewing a Cadillac: (paraphrased) "The Americans think luxury means simply making something bigger".

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