As we continue to sample the samples for the Craft Beer festival at the end of Aug someone asked the sensible question – what actually is a craft beer?
This was quite a shock – not the question itself, but the fact anyone was able to be anything close to sensible by that point. Anyway, now that the head’s cleared a bit – here goes……….
It’s Not Clear – Obviously!
Defining what qualifies as a craft beer can actually be quite difficult. I think the best definition I’ve seen is:
‘craft beer’ as beer made by a brewer that is small, independent, and traditional’
But as Craft beers become more popular there are quite a few hitting the market that might not fit neatly into this description, especially as the term “traditional” is open to interpretation.
Independent breweries appreciate the freedom to be able to use whatever ingredients they like to get those extra special flavours, but this might mean using more modern innovations such as coffee grounds or even chilli’s. So would this mean they are not classed as “traditional”.
Also, one of the big chains might invest in a small brewery but allow it to carry on growing and producing excellent beer without corporate interference, but it’s no longer independent.
And if sales are good, a small brewery will grow – that’s just good business – but it can stay true to its brewing methods and keep producing the beers that made it popular in the first place.
Ideal for Sussex Country Pubs
So I think the real test of whether a beer can truly be called “Craft” has to be in the taste. When beers are mass produced decisions are made about ingredients used and brewing techniques employed that have a lot to do with keeping the output high, and this is reflected in the flavour of the final product. When the time and effort is spent on making a beer that bit special, allowing certain flavours to develop, it really shows. When the big breweries pile in and try and make versions of Craft Beers that really don’t tick the boxes any seasoned beer drinker can tell the difference straight away – quality will always win out.
So come along to our good old Sussex Country Pub on the 26th – 29th Aug, get your taste buds around a selection of the Craft Beers on offer and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. By the end of the evening you might even agree with most of the staff here – who cares about a sensible question!