Thursday, 10 September 2015

Signposting Craft

It's tricky for a beer drinker to know what is, and what is not craft beer. Everyone has their view on that, and there are some very definite non-craft people aiming to muddy the water, vis-a-vis Revisionist beers, which for sure fail to rise to the craft beer bar. It doesn't help my view of them when a representative tries to convince me they are a "gateway" to craft. I've heard that sort of rubbish before from big brand managers. If Marstons want to convince me that they are serious about craft then they need to stop trying to tell me that "small batch" is the sort of volume that I can only have dreams about selling. Whilst their estates don't buy from me, and are unlikely to any time soon, their soft soap rubbish is sure to only irritate, rather than pacify. Oh, and they could do with starting to use a few hops too.

Still, most brewers that I consider true craft don't supply supermarkets. We do, and we are absolutely tiny compared to most that do supply these big useful routes to market. This makes our beer a big deal in the aisles of Morrisons. What is really nice is that the people who plan the layout of the stores have decided that craft beer needs to be signposted. This is being rolled out across the stores nationwide, apparently.

Whether you think craft beer is a thing or not, it's certainly considered a thing by these supermarket people, and I'm not going to argue with that. Best of all, there is non of that Revisionist rubbish on show, although not at all sure how Crabbies is either craft or beer.


The Beer Nut said...

Cans go on the bottom, of course. For the proles.

Dave Bailey said...

I can see that changing before long.

Arthur Scargill said...

You're in my local Booths too Dave, though I'm sure you knew that. Usually nestled up quite close to Stringers' range.

Good selection of beer in there *and* they put their cans on the top two shelves. Just like they were jazz mags.

Dave Bailey said...

Arther, yes, Booths are great, top notch. And they sell brilliant cheese. The top shelf that I saw, in Ulverston, is far too low for jazz mags, however.

Ron Pattinson said...

Yes, I really want to know if a beer is craft, otherwise it obviously isn't worth drinking. I carefully poured away my bottles of Lagunitas yesterday. Magical how it stopped being craft the second the ink was dry on Heineken's contract.

But exactly how is Leffe craft?

Dave Bailey said...

Ron, there are people that do want to know if a beer is craft. There is a thing with the favour profile. To the general drinker I think craft in the UK is anything that isn't either trad Brit ale or low taste lager. Of course the demarcation is fuzzy. Is Lagunitas not craft? From the mass consumer perspective it hasn't changed. Is Leffe craft? Well, you and I would almost certainly agree on that, but from a mass consumer perspective, again, it almost certainly is.

For me, we are almost certainly the tiniest brewery on that display. By a huge amount. I bet they are all well above the duty threshold. We are well below it. I'm very pleased to be in that lot. Very pleased indeed. My job now is to keep us there, and that is going to be tough. Very tough.

But, to steal another brewery's determination, I'll do nearly anything to achieve that. Well, almost.

Ron Pattinson said...


so Harvey's isn't craft because they make traditional beers? So does that mean the US breweries I've been to that concentrate on cask British styles aren't craft either? This is so complicated.

Dave Bailey said...

I'm happy to call Harvey's craft because they do some stuff that is different and interesting. If I remember their big stout is something rather special.

It might be confusing if you want to make it out to be, if it suits the argument. I really don't think a hard set of rules will help though, as there will always be breweries that will fall outside any definition that shouldn't, and vice-versa.

Dvorak said...

That's Newkie Broon next to the Pistonhead. isn't it? And McEwan's Export next to that. Hmm. It seems rather an amorphous definition.