Friday, 17 May 2013
Craft Beer World - Mark Dredge
OK, I'm biased. Mark Dredge mentioned me in his book, so I'm hardly going to say it's pants, am I. Even if Mark has called me "bonkers"1
Over and above my very real joy at seeing my beer, my brewery and a personal mention, I do think the book is good. It tackles the ever growing question of "what is Craft Beer" and admits right away that a clear definition isn't possible.
It is timely that today I was at a meeting of a new initiative called The Cumbria Food and Drink Growth Network - which is an interesting thing in itself. There was a speaker there talking about growing artisan food and drink businesses and it occurred to me that craft beer fits that quite nicely.
The speaker talked about all sorts of interesting things, many that I'll not share with you, in case you are a brewery and take away some initiative that is budding in my own mind. After all, I made the effort to go, the reader didn't. The speaker makes artisan chocolates, but much of what she said translates across. Much of what she said gave me new ideas, or perhaps more importantly a feeling of knowing that what we do here at Hardknott is good and right.
Importantly, artisan food and drink doesn't feel an intense need to define itself. OK, there are some pointers, some thoughts to indicate the difference between run-of-the-mill and artisan, but quite clearly for me there are parallels between artisan food and drink and craft beer.
Yes, there are the ingredients, a focus on quality. A real need to be innovative and creating new and fresh ideas. There was a little scepticism about passion and nonsense like that. But the speaker also touched on one thing that I really do think is important beyond the beer, but shows through very often in the beer itself; that of the people and their story. What is behind the beer and it's influences.
To me, Marks book is in the emerging style of beer writing where less focus is on facts and figures of the brewery or the beer, although there is just enough of that too. But also on the ideas, the people and the community behind what we are becoming used to understanding as the craft beer world, which is in turn part of the artisan food and drink world.
I suppose an interesting question is how long will the book be valid? Many of the beers listed, including mine, were not around even 5 years ago. I suspect there are a few beers that ought to be in even now, but missed the publishing deadline. This is an indication of how fast and exciting beer is right now.
Oh, and for the record, I'm actually a little proud to be labeled bonkers, if the truth be known. Meanwhile, I'll consider if we should label ourselves as an Artisan Brewery.
1To be fair, I did show the book to the staff today, proudly showing them the entry. An appropriate level of pride, as you would expect the team to have, was evident. However, there was a tinge of amusement, with Jules stating "So, he's met you then"