Saturday, February 12, 2011

What is Craft Beer?

Had some after-work beers tonight. Rush River chocolate coffee oatmeal stout. Not exactly my kind of beer, but the bar in question tonight had a beer in the cask, and that was it. So I ordered one. A bit sweet and distracting by the end of the pint, but not bad. Not great, either. Next up was a Deschutes Red Chair. I had this beer a year or so ago when I was in Washington state, and didn't remember being blown away. It was recently voted best beer in the world or some such nonsense, so I thought that I better give it another try. I guess my taste a year ago was just as incorrect as it is now, because I, once again, was not blown away. It's a nice beer. It's from the PACIFIC NORTHWEST as they insistently declare, and tastes like it: a bit sweet, caramely, and over-hopped for my taste. It has a zingy, herbish, hop flavor that tastes like rosemary or mint.

This is what I'm drinking now:

It's an IPA I brewed in an open fermenter which I blogged about here. By now it's pretty good. There is a bit of a weird flavor from the super old hops I used, but overall it's nice. The open fermentation really creates an amazing flavor profile. You would never guess that it was fermented with "American" yeast.

There seems to be a lot of talk about the term "craft beer" on other beer blogs right now. Personally, I think it's a valuable term, if a bit vague. The whole discussion reminds me of the "what is art?" conversation you hear frequently. Something being "art" doesn't ensure that it's good. It just ensures that it's not something meaningless created in a factory. As The Beer Nut pointed out in the comments here, beer brewed by brewers rather than accountants, is craft beer. Art matters, craft matters, things that are created by humans and not by computers matter. To me, simply, that's what craft is.


  1. Would it therefore be fair to say that craft beer is part of a wider backlash against the means of production that came out of the Industrial Revolution?

  2. I would say so, while also realizing that "craft beer" (or whatever you prefer to call it) is still something created by modern technology, but with an eye on history and quality rather than just efficiency.