What does "craft" mean in craft beer poll?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by cavedave, Aug 7, 2013.


What does "craft" mean

  1. It relates to the size of the brewery and how much beer it sells.

    68 vote(s)
  2. It relates to the quality of the beer.

    144 vote(s)
  3. It relates to the styles of the beer made.

    28 vote(s)
  4. It relates to being recognized by the standards of the Brewers Association.

    39 vote(s)
  5. It relates to using traditional brewing techniques and ingredients.

    43 vote(s)
  6. It relates to using adjuncts, or not using adjuncts, in the beer.

    16 vote(s)
  7. Other (please explain)

    26 vote(s)
  8. It doesn't have any meaning.

    42 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,097) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Is it a term that has a meaning? Is Fat Tire craft beer? Is Blue Moon not craft beer? Hoegaarden? Bourbon County? Duvel?

    What is craft beer? Do we each of us mean something different when we use the term? How do you explain craft when you are asked?

    What do you think? Inquiring minds want to know. Multiple answers allowed. Lets figure out what people hear when we say "craft beer."
    tabascosigned and utopiajane like this.
  2. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,002) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    I don't really care for the term "craft"—or any term that differentiates what most of us are drinking (and brewing) from what's commonly referred to simply as beer. In my mind it marginalizes the "craft" segment into something that is considered "different" or "other," and in doing so somehow puts "craft" on the defensive. I'm fortunate to reside in a region where, when talking about beer, we are by default talking about "craft" beer. I'd rather see good beer referred to as "beer" and macro swill referred to as, well... something else. Or just call it all beer and let the product speak for itself.

    Anyway, to respond to the OP's question I said it refers to the quality of the beer. That's a pretty subjective definition, but it's how I interpret the meaning of "craft."
    rab53 and bifrost17 like this.
  3. Flibber

    Flibber Initiate (0) Jul 27, 2013 England

    It doesn't mean just one thing. Independent breweries use it to contrast themselves with the multinationals, multinationals use it themselves to target certain brands at certain customers. I've seen pubs use it to indicate "exotic" bottled beers, many of them produced by multinationals (Leffe, Blue Moon). A homebrew and winemaking shop near me uses it to indicate homebrewing. The Brewers' Association has a definition, but that only applies in the USA (if even there) - after all, the "all malt flagship" rule would never work in Britain or Belgium.

    Personally, the only time I ever use it is to talk about "American craft beer". The reason being that with most people over here American beer still has a bad reputation - a lot of people think it's all Budweiser and Coors. It's useful to have a term to refer to the good American beer. I never use "craft beer" to talk about British beer. Many people do, but I don't think it's useful as our beer history is different. It's not synonymous with "good beer" in general.
    Kahless and TongoRad like this.
  4. SerialTicker

    SerialTicker Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2012 Michigan

    I don't care what is and what isn't craft beer.

    I just want good beer.
  5. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (9,417) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    Like many appellations, it depends on who's using it...
    rather and frazbri like this.

    THANAT0PSIS Champion (802) Aug 3, 2010 Wisconsin

    I answered that it relates to the quality of the beer (a distinction that is problematic at best), but it also relates to the business behind the beer, at least for me. It has nothing to do with size or production volume, but the business ethics of the company running the operation. "Craft" is a culmination of both.

    For example, if Budweiser all of a sudden started making "good" beer but kept their shitty business practices, I would not call them "craft" (but I'd drink the beer...looking at you, Goose Island). If the opposite happened (made the same tasteless beer-water but changed their business practices, stopped trying to force craft off the shelves, and became an independent company again), I wouldn't call them "craft" either, nor would I drink their product. I would, however, respect them, which is something I definitely don't do as things stand today. If they did both, I'd call them "craft", though it's likely that if AB did that, the term would soon lose all meaning.
    cavedave likes this.
  7. frazbri

    frazbri Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    I never use the term in conversation. It's a loaded term for better or worse.
    keithmurray and MrDave like this.
  8. BurgeoningBrewhead

    BurgeoningBrewhead Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Definitely agree with you there...it's two different worlds. With BMC, "beer is beer." It's one singular beverage, made by a few major brands. Macro beer is one product, and Bud/Miller/Coors/etc. are just competing brands of the same thing. Much the same as cola is one product, and Pepsi/Coke/etc. are just competing brands.
    Craft beer is something entirely different. My macro=soda analogy falls apart here, but the difference is (besides the huge increase in quality of ingredients, time input, etc.) like night and day. Craft beer is an entire world of history, styles and flavors, with effectively infinite (because no one can try everything) variations and boundless creativity.
    Macro beer is soda for adults. Good for a cold, refreshing drink that goes down quickly. Its relation to craft beer is in name only.
    cavedave likes this.
  9. MetalMountainMastiff

    MetalMountainMastiff Initiate (0) Oct 1, 2012 California

    I voted other. To me it generally has to do with the brewery being independent. Size and ingredients used to go hand in hand with it. But with people like DFH ,Stone etc...I no longer believe size matters, and most use non traditional ingredients now.

    However independence is still a very strong attribute in craft.
  10. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,002) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    There are a few artisinal sodas, but cheese might provide a more apt analogy. Should we allow Velveeta and Kraft American singles to refer to themselves as cheese (even though these products may technically qualify as cheese)? Or do we reserve that term to be used when talking about true cheese, made with skill and care by artisans who take pride in their craft? Moreover, at what point do we allow impostors to co-opt certain words? I firmly believe that meaning, and thus our very perception of reality, is strongly influenced by how language and words are used (or misused).
    BurgeoningBrewhead and cavedave like this.
  11. charlzm

    charlzm Poo-Bah (2,464) Sep 3, 2007 California

    "Craft" beer - made without compromise or to a price point. The beer comes first: the marketing plan comes after.

    Here's a suggestion; refer to all beer as "craft" be default and only indicate a difference when it's a "macro", which is a much easier to define term!
  12. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,002) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    If you believe most breweries don't design beers to sell profitably at a specific price point and with a specific, preconceived marketing angle—or that they never make compromises—then you're fooling yourself. Look no further than Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, or any number of other highly successful breweries. First and foremost, it's a business.
    keithmurray and Cvescalante like this.
  13. BEERchitect

    BEERchitect Poo-Bah (12,867) Feb 9, 2005 Kentucky

    When I toured the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis some time ago, I never once saw a brewer touch any of the ingredients. I never saw rubber boots, a mash paddle, or even a sweaty bearded guy listening to Phish. It dawned on me that I preferred beer that has been "well-crafted" and not simply "engineered".
    JulianB, einhorn and cavedave like this.
  14. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,097) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Wow 7 "no meaning" responses. More than I expected.

    Lot of good discussion that shows one thing so far. We are widely spread in our feelings about what it means.
  15. geocool

    geocool Disciple (331) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I go with the Brewer's Association. They have a very clear definition and while you can certainly question and quibble with it, no one else has proposed a better definition IMHO. I also voted for "Traditional" because that is one of the three criteria used by the BA.
    rlcoffey likes this.
  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,466) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “Should we allow Velveeta and Kraft American singles to refer to themselves as cheese (even though these products may technically qualify as cheese)?”

    I am a bit confused; do consumers have the ‘authority’ to decide what a manufacturer calls their product? It seems to me that Kraft has the right to label Velveeta and Kraft American singles as cheese as long as here are no government regulations prohibiting them from doing so.

    Back to the “beer” vs. “swill” aspect. AB has been labeling Budweiser as a “beer” for over a hundred years. While somebody(s) may think that it is more appropriate for this product to be labeled as “swill” the bottom line is that it is not going to happen. When you add that 90% of the beer consumed is more like a Budweiser vs. a beer from Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Stone, etc. there is even more reason that the word “beer” deserves to be associated with a product that some folks may view as “swill”. The reality is that if we BAs want terminology to differentiate the products that we prefer to consume from beers like Budweiser than we (and the industry) need to coin a terminology here. I personally feel comfortable with the terminology of “craft beer”, from my personal perspective, I associate the terminology of “craft beer” with a beer that is of high quality (i.e., has more than an insipid flavor).

    keithmurray, Cvescalante and cavedave like this.
  17. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,097) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Excellent. Could be craft is up until your mash tun is too big to use a mash paddle?
    BEERchitect likes this.
  18. jivex5k

    jivex5k Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2011 Florida

    I've been forcing myself to say microbrew instead of craft beer.
    Craft beer has become a term so wide it means nothing anymore.
  19. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    I hate the term "craft beer." It just seems so pretentious to me. It's just beer
    masshlx, Dracarys and TMoney2591 like this.
  20. nickfl

    nickfl Poo-Bah (3,947) Mar 7, 2006 Florida

    Its like pornography, I can't define it but I know it when I see it.
    cavedave, mani, mythaeus and 2 others like this.
  21. Cvescalante

    Cvescalante Aspirant (282) Dec 24, 2012 Texas

    I don't mind the term at all. Calling certain beer "craft" just sets it apart from mainstream stuff that most people drink. The term also suggests that "craft" brewers are more skilled and put more effort and care into what they make, instead of being a beer factory that pumps out the same shit over and over with only money in mind.
  22. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,002) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    Unfortunately I don't have much of an answer to that, as I don't know anything about what technically qualifies a product as cheese. I do know there are certain rules/guidelines as to what can be considered true Bourbon and Champagne, for example. I'd argue that if anything is going to mean anything, some consideration needs to be given to a word's original meaning (just look at how terms like "hype" and "price gouging" are thrown around on BA). But that's about as far as I'll take that line of reasoning. For better or worse, what words mean ultimately depends on how society in general uses them. Language is eternally fluid.

    While I'm posting, I'll add that this thread sure has its share of interesting generalizations. Apparently craft brewers don't ever engage in shitty business practices, never make bad beer, have beards, and listen to Phish. The definition of "craft" keeps getting narrower and narrower. :wink:
    Cvescalante likes this.
  23. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I voted other. It depends upon who is taking the poll and what point they are trying to make.
  24. 77black_ships

    77black_ships Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2012 Belgium

    I personally prefer the Dutch terms which are roughly translated as “Special beers” & “Degustation beers” which is what I drink.
    TongoRad likes this.
  25. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    That's my point. It screams "look at me, I'm different!"
    jbertsch likes this.
  26. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska

    It makes me happy to see that the overwhelmingly highest voted category (as of this typing) was "it relates to the quality of the beer", because at the end of the day, that is the most important defining characteristic in saying that something is crafted. It is possible to craft things in large quantities, although there are clearly certain decisions to be made when it comes to the costs of "crafting" something on a large scale. It is not possible to "craft" something without respect for the ingredients you use being of high quality and the process you follow involving high attention and care to the end product.

    I also think further qualification is needed, however, for that answer. Because I think most macro brewers would likely tell you that they have very high standards of quality control and would therefore consider themselves to be "high quality" beer. But I think most of us would agree that "quality" should be used to relate to how the damn stuff tastes, rather than is it consistent. We, as craft beer advocates need to be able to taste a beer and honestly think to ourselves "that may not appeal to my palate, but I can tell a great deal of attention and (sorry to get a little hokey) LOVE went into the beer". Maybe that's just me.

    Or put another way, you can look at all beer production on a giant spectrum of what is most important to the brewer. All brewing is a business--and any brewer who tells you he's in it *just* for the beer is either lying or independently wealthy--but the owners of those businesses will have different priorities in terms of growth, bottom line and results. To me, there are two MAIN motivations that drive brewers, and every brewer falls somewhere on this spectrum:

    At one end: "I want people to love my beer"

    At the other end: "I want people to buy my beer"

    At one end, the priority is what people think of your beer on principle, rather than for how those people's opinions will lead to purchases. At the other, the purchase is all that matters--if you can get people to buy the beer, all else is secondary. No brewer is exactly on one end or the other, as even your smallest craft brewer wants people to buy their beer, and even the largest conglomo-brewer wants people to like their beer. But the difference is in how those two feelings balance with each other. The smaller craft brewer is going to care about opinions first and purchases second. The larger brewer, theoretically the inverse of that.

    Sorry to get a bit esoteric here. I suppose defining "craft" necessitates a little bit of working between strict definitions.
    StJamesGate likes this.
  27. Cvescalante

    Cvescalante Aspirant (282) Dec 24, 2012 Texas

    Haha. I just don't see that as a bad thing.
  28. IslandLiving

    IslandLiving Initiate (169) Jun 30, 2013 Florida

    Everything is Craft Beer, nothing is Craft Beer. Soon Hallmark will determine how we celebrate craft beer and on what date. Any brewer can say their beer is "craft" beer, even Budweiser. I brew and I can't make 7 billion beers the exact same, that is a CRAFT. Still doesn't mean I'm gonna drink it or the local "craft" swill.

    I don't drink "craft" beer, I drink better beer.
  29. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,982) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Ha! I come from the days that even preceded 'microbrew'- so I tend to recall how the term 'craft' came about; to me it's just how a trade organization describes its products. It does seem to have become intwined with the word 'artisanal' these days- but if that's the concept I want to get across at a particular time, I'll just use that word instead (well...that's my preference, though I am sure I have fallen back on saying 'craft' every now and then). Craft does have a limiting American connotation as well, I find. Mostly I just say 'beer' and 'industrial beer'- maybe I also need a separate category for 'special beers' like 77black_ships posted.
    cavedave likes this.
  30. mattafett

    mattafett Initiate (0) Mar 9, 2009 Iowa

    I vote it has no real meaning. It is just a term applied by others to describe a particular segment of beer. I think it is a rather insulting and douchy term though. I feel that there is just as much care put into producing BMC beers as say a Toppling Goliath. Both brewers want to do their best and put out a quality product. The issue is the consumer the product is aimed at, not the product in and of itself.
    mani likes this.
  31. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    "Craft" is the kind of beer that numbers a higher proportion of lawyers among drinkers than other kinds of beer.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,466) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    The only word that I have taken note of as a replacement word for “craft” in the terminology of “craft beer” was “artisanal” as mentioned by TongoRad. I think that is a ‘fair’ word but I must confess I have never heard somebody utter the terminology of “artisanal beer”. I don’t doubt that somebody has verbalized “artisanal beer”.in some way/place, but I have never heard it. Now, I have heard the terminology of “craft beer” many. many times. I may be mistaken but it seems to me that the terminology of “craft beer: is here to stay, even if some BAs are not fans in this regard.

  33. TheodorHerzl

    TheodorHerzl Initiate (0) Mar 30, 2007 Indiana

    Under the current terms of the BA definition a new place opens and we say "Congratulations you brew craft beer now!" I've had way too much shitty craft in my day. I don't buy that. They are a lobbying firm first and a craft beer peddler second.

    I've come to the point of brew good beer, don't be an asshole, and price your beer semi-reasonably and I will support your product. I don't really care what you call it.
    cavedave, TMoney2591 and charlzm like this.
  34. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,002) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    "And non-craft" is the kind of beer that's produced by breweries that have more lawyers than brewers on their payrolls.
    JulianB, cavedave and VictorWisc like this.
  35. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,097) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Quality of the beer is pretty far ahead in the poll, so I guess to many of us Blue Moon and Hoegaarden are craft beers, judging them by their ratings on BA.

    Still surprised by how many folks think craft doesn't mean anything, as it is such a ubiquitous term.
    VictorWisc likes this.
  36. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Most of the non "craft" beer drinkers I know, whether they drink AALs or don't drink beer at all still ask me if I'm still into microbrews. I hesitate to use "craft" because it does sound pretentious and using micro is fine except when I'm referring to breweries like Boston Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Stone and other larger "micros". Next time I have a few and my creative alcoholic juices get flowing, I'm going to conjur up another name and throw it on a thread here.
    VictorWisc and cavedave like this.
  37. Hanzo

    Hanzo Savant (975) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    "Craft" to me is all about the quality of the beer. I don't honestly care who makes it or how much beer they produce annually or what other companies they own....if you make good, quality beer you are craft in my book.
    JackHorzempa and cavedave like this.
  38. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,482) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    Sure you want to take it there? You could argue that ABI has higher quality Standards in terms of QC and consistency than most any brewer considered to be 'craft'.

    I think I understood what you were getting at, though, if by 'quality' you meant 'flavor'.
  39. geocool

    geocool Disciple (331) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I've seen the term used a bit.
    VictorWisc and JackHorzempa like this.
  40. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,097) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Yeah, but have you ever used it in a sentence? Is it accented second syllable as it seems it would be?
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