What is craft beer in the UK?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by JackHorzempa, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,185) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    “This British beer craze is undeniably linked to the global craft beer movement, which originated in the US in the 1970s and has spread across markets including Italy, Spain, Australia and Canada. Yet, when asked what “craft beer” is, no one knows. The perceptions of producers don’t necessarily align with those of consumers. And that could spell trouble for craft brewers.”

    And:

    “The craft beer battle

    In contrast to other countries, such as the US and Italy, there has never been a broadly accepted definition or classification of “craft beer” in the UK. Despite heated debates between the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and Scottish company BrewDog, and efforts by some major players to lead the discussion on the definition and values of craft beer, there’s still no clarity on what the term specifies, or what kind of quality or criteria must be met.”

    And:

    “In the UK, the term “craft beer” has so many associations that there’s a danger it may end up meaning nothing at all. This would jeopardise the future of a promising sector, as the UK has a long history of brewing and the potential to become a key player in the global craft beer market.”

    http://theconversation.com/craft-be...-big-breweries-muscle-in-on-the-market-124923

    Cheers!
     
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  2. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Zealot (579) Nov 23, 2008 New York
    Society

    While BREXIT (should it ever come to pass) will likely turn out to be a bad idea for the UK, it would be wise for them to steer clear of the whole 'what is or isn't craft' morass.
     
  3. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (838) Jan 22, 2011 New York
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    I’m being thick - read your comment several times both before and after reading the article. Maybe I missed something in the latter but what relevance does BREXIT have here?

    To answer OP. I’m a Brit who’s been living in the US for 11 years. And although I go back to the UK fairly often and drink the beer there, I don’t really pay attention to any beer news, latest definitions, debates etc. So with that said, my unscientific, basic, very much YMMV type of opinion is that to me “craft” in the UK means American-style craft beer.

    An example of a UK Craft™️ brewery would be Cloudwater

    An example of a UK brewery that makes delicious, well-crafted beer, but isn’t Craft™️ to me is Timothy Taylor.

    Where things get muddled is where the likes of TT make a beer with “modern” hops. Or perhaps at a brewery level, a place like Fyne Ales which has is more of a hybrid - been around since 2001, make a lot of traditional-type beers, but are still clearly influenced by the cask scene.

    Nonetheless the above is all good beer. And frankly I hate the term craft, here or there.
     
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  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    I don't know, from what I've seen over the past 30 years or so, there's not a "broadly accepted definition or classification of 'craft beer' " in the US, either. :grin: Even the (Craft) Brewers Association, with its constantly changing definition of "Craft Brewer" has said they don't define "craft beer".
    Former Brewers Association board member (and recent Boston Beer Co. employee) Sam Caligione has even stated here on the BA forums:
    So, "craft beer" in the US is everything that is not an AAL, light beer or malt liquor (or adjunct cream ale or cider or hard tea or seltzer...)

    ---- well, except when those latter styles and other beverages are brewed by a "craft brewer".

    ---- or when any style beer is brewed by a brewery that isn't a "craft brewer".

    Simple - Got it?
     
    #4 jesskidden, Nov 8, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  5. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (838) Jan 22, 2011 New York
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    re Fyne ales - that was meant to read influenced by the “craft scene” not cask scene
     
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  6. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Zealot (579) Nov 23, 2008 New York
    Society

    It was an intentionally hyperbolic analog on my part, using BREXIT solely as an example
    of a heated debate taking place in the UK. Maybe could have been better worded. Or maybe you are thick. :wink:
     
  7. officerbill

    officerbill Disciple (378) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society

    Obviously they need to start flooding the US, particularly NYS, market with English & Scottish ales at competitive prices. :wink:

    Substitute US for UK and most of this article still applies.
     
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  8. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (983) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    y
    Exactly. I learned to love ales from my first visit to the British Isles in the early 70s. Those beers I had then would perfectly suit any beer desire I might have now. Their beer history is deep and is largely responsible for what is now happening in American brewing. Their brewing is understated like many things British. American brewing is loud like many things American.
     
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  9. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,812) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Having traveled to Europe fairly often in recent years I think I can say that consumers in England, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain all know what craft beer is. Scotland... I'm not sure.

    I had several conversations in Liverpool with punters at the pubs about different beers like "The White Rat" (can't remember who brewed that one) and Titanic's "Plum Porter". Ireland has lots of craft breweries springing up. Scotland has BrewDog at least. In Germany they're producing new hops and brewing all kinds of beers from around the world including American IPAs. Italy is now full of thousands of birrificio artigianale, and although you might still find those who say "drink wine in Italy" the times are certainly changing. Spain is a toss up but at least in Barcelona where they love food and everything interesting and exciting and artistic craft beer is making great strides. Only France in my opinion is still behind the curve although they still have their share of brewpubs and craft breweries. Hell, my friend Michael Donohue owns a place in Paris. Europe, although a few steps behind the U.S., is certainly aware of what craft beer is! I don't see why the U.K. would fall behind - although I do fear change in that I certainly love real ale and I don't want that to disappear - but on the upside, I've had dozens of craft beers via cask so what's to fear?
     
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  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,185) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Jim,

    My read of the linked article is somewhat summarized by the question(s) of:

    “This shows that British consumers are already very confused about what craft beer stands for. When asked what they think craft beer is, our respondents highlighted not only the independence and size of the business making it, but also the scale of production and nature of ownership.”

    We can debate whether the Brewers Association is the authority for defining craft brewing in the US but it does represent a voice which some (many?) craft beer consumers will listen to. I am not aware that there is a comparable organization in the UK to which the British craft beer consumers can look to in this regard.

    I suspect that over time things will become a bit more settled for the British craft beer consumers but I do not expect there will a universal and mutually accepted definition of craft beer. Heck, even with the Brewers Association there is ‘debate’ among US craft beer consumers. For example there is zero doubt in my mind that Founders produces craft beer.

    Cheers!
     
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  11. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (838) Jan 22, 2011 New York
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    It’s about Britain. That includes England and Scotland. Why are the Scots being singled out??**


    **it’s only a coincidence that I’m Scottish
     
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  12. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,812) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Haha! These must be beers that the larger brewers are making that are causing the confusion. We have that same kind of a question here. Is Boston Beer Co. still a "craft brewer"? Ahh, 'yes, they've given us (the Brewer's Association) more money so we're upping the barrels per year requirement'.

    Brits know the answer just like we do. OR are they actually confused because they've had so many larger brewery buy-outs that their heads are spinning and they don't know what side is up and what side is down. Miller fans in the U.S. might be experiencing that soon.
     
  13. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,812) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Only because I have no on-the-ground and in-the-pub experience to give an appropriate answer. That's all. Scotland is on my list, just haven't gotten there yet. I should also note that I have no doubt that there are high quality craft brews being made in Scotland ~ I'm sure there are!
     
    #13 NeroFiddled, Nov 8, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
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  14. K-jack211

    K-jack211 Initiate (117) Jun 22, 2014 Michigan
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    Seems like Brewers Association takes the Justice Potter Stewart approach. “We may not be able to define ’craft beer,’ but we know it when we see it.“
     
  15. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,881) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    Whatever happened to Thames Welsh ESB? Sorry for the diversion..
     
  16. BruChef

    BruChef Aspirant (209) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    IMO,
    “Craft” beer (not a fan of that term either) is a relatively recent American concept. It’s what the mass produced pale lagers that were the majority of what beer was available for the last few decades is not.
    I think in the U.K., beer is beer (or ale is ale). It’s started as and has been a legitimate craft for centuries so the term “craft” need not apply. Modern “Craft” beer in the U.K. however, is pretty much just America infiltrating and potentially/probably spoiling a perfectly good beer culture. ‘Mericans ruin everything.
     
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  17. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (880) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)
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    I guess the common understanding is that it's hoppy, flavoursome beer that isn't Real Ale. Or anything like sours or fruit flavoured. The marketing is ambiguous because continental imports like Duvel and Franziskanner are often lumped in with all the craft beers on menus and on supermarket shelves.
     
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  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,185) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Are pastry stouts a 'thing' in the UK?

    Cheers!
     
  19. BruChef

    BruChef Aspirant (209) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    I hope not.
     
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  20. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (983) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    If I'm anywhere in Great Britain I can find really excellent beer served on tap. I don't care a flip about parcing what craft beer is. It is a moot point. But more American style experimenting is happening. In England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and The Republic of Ireland I can find really good beer that simply is the local stuff. Plus lots of Euro lagers, shandies, and ciders.
     
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  21. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (880) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)
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    I only know of one and it's gross. Milkshake IPAs, fruit flavoured IPAs, hazy IPAs and sours are this year's thing.
     
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  22. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,086) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Is there any movement toward novel uses of local hop varietals? Is there any innovation that isn't simply emulating US 'innovation' in brewing? I'd love to see what modern thinking could bring to the hop varieties that work well in the isles and the possibilities of cask ales
     
  23. laketang

    laketang Meyvn (1,159) Mar 22, 2015 Illinois
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    Thanks for mentioning your buddy Donohue, I looked up his place east of Paris, I never knew, so next time I go ...
     
  24. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,083) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland
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    Other countries just have different brewing traditions, particularly those that are on the other side of the pond.

    Things that are sort of "American" influenced don't always take root, even though a lot of US ideas and concepts sneak in.
     
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  25. OffTrail

    OffTrail Initiate (78) Aug 12, 2012 Washington

    Sorry!
     
  26. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,111) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry

    whatever beer you order with your plate of pulled-pork sliders.
     
  27. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (4,541) Sep 3, 2007 Texas
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    This 100%
     
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  28. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (880) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)
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    Charles Faram have a hop development programme. I've actually got half a dozen of their new varieties in my freezer but am yet to use them. I'm thinking of making some single hop bitters. Shall report back if I think of it.
     
  29. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (880) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)
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    There may be more but I'm not aware of any.
     
  30. surfcaster

    surfcaster Zealot (546) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
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    In London I used the list on BA a couple years ago to explore some places serving draft (not the standard pub chains) and it took me to some neat spots not unlike what we find in the USA. Converted places in former industrial districts thriving with younger folks. There were a few cask beers but a lot of other locals ranging from IPAs to just nice summer lagers. Quite a nice experience--something for everyone.

    Will be heading to Scotland next fall and curious what I will find there in addition to a whisky or three.
     
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  31. marquis

    marquis Crusader (790) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    The name "craft beer" may have come from US, But the movement began in the UK when it was called Micro brewing. For a few years there were more breweries in Britain than in any other country.
    The reason was probably a reaction from kegged and gassy brews and the availability of cellars and hand pumps in tens of thousands of pubs.
    The name "craft" is widely misused here, it seems to only be applied to keg beers. A ridiculous thing to see is when the same beer is sold live through a handpump much cheaper than the same beer served from a keg under pressure even though wastage is much less.
    There is actually more craft involved in cask ale than in keg beer, which shows because the result is so much better when done with skill.
     
  32. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (148) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    Wasn't CAMRA focused at preserving traditional styles, rather than bringing back something long lost? At least in the US, its more "anything goes" and "bigger is better", which seems to have caught on there and at odds with anything traditional.
     
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  33. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,868) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Anchor Brewing Co's Fritz Maytag in an interview claims he invented that term:

    "Well, I invented the term microbrewing... talking to somebody, who had said, used a phrase that I, that terrified me because it was so obviously likely to take on, again, going to take over, and that was boutique brewery*. And it was also an insult, I thought. (Discusses the early era of Silicon Valley and Steam Beer, his friendship with Steve Jobs, etc)... I was very aware (of)... microcomputer as a term, and when they said boutique brewery* I right away started thinking real quick, and I said something about microbrewery. And I felt, for many years I used only that term because I kind of liked it. Craft is a vague term. Micro at least means small."

    * Of course, "Boutique brewery" was a term used by Michael Jackson in his early ed's of The Pocket Guide to Beer (for example, from pages 110-111. 1st US edition, 1982):


     
  34. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (888) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Then maybe I am thick too. :stuck_out_tongue:
     
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  35. marquis

    marquis Crusader (790) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    He might think that he invented the term but it goes back a very long time. It is the inverse of macro brewing.
    Small scale brewing really actually took off after 1963 when the need for a licence was abolished for non commercial brewing.
    Things took off from there, particularly after a lot of commercial breweries moved to keg. Admittedly a very good reason for doing this was to reduce the proportion of spoilage. Keg beer kept well, it just wasn't very nice.
    So there was a demand for cask and the infrastructure was already there. Cask beer requires less brewery equipment and time than keg, this meant lower setting up costs.
     
    #35 marquis, Nov 11, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  36. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (148) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    Your guys' way is more restrictive, perhaps even backwards. Its at odds with "craft"

    https://blog.brewdog.com/usa/blog/craft-beer-v-real-ale
     
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,185) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    From the above linked article:

    “Over to Tony Naylor again to provide the final word;

    ‘Real ale's biggest enemy? British brewers who flood the market with dull, steady, fundamentally boring brown beers, on a flavour spectrum defined by Greene King IPA and Taylor's Landlord. Contrast this with America where uninhibited, challengingly hoppy craft beers are flourishing.’

    Cheers!
     
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  38. marquis

    marquis Crusader (790) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Taylor 's Landlord, when well kept, is a beautiful beer.
    I have to admit that the more "craft" beers I try the more I get the impression that the "boring brown beers" get things right.
     
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  39. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (148) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    You're on the wrong site then, buddy
     
  40. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (880) Jan 29, 2012 United Kingdom (England)
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    I just noticed Bateman's have been using the 'craft' moniker on their labels – 'Crafted since 1874'. And this morning in Tesco I saw Stella Artois bottles with 'Originally crafted for Christmas' on the cap labels. Bateman's have a point, but 'wife beater' can do one!!! Certainly muddying the waters for the undiscerning drinker.
     
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