Has craft beer had its day?

Canberra brewer disillusioned with “craft”

In an interview with Radio Brews News, reported in Australian Brews News, Canberra brewer Richard Watkins said he’d become disillusioned with the name “craft beer”. Many people regard it as pretentious, he said, and it downplayed the skills of large-scale brewers.

Like the “premium beer” category used a generation ago – or the current “natural wine” movement – “craft beer” lacks a formal definition. It might imply small scale; or it could mean skilfully crafted (as opposed to being merely brewed?).

If we ever define “craft brewer” in Australia, we’ll perhaps take a different tack than America’s Brewers Association. For them, a craft brewer makes as much as 702 million litres a year, provided they’re less than 25 per cent owned by a non-craft business and use traditional methods.

More likely, Australia’s pragmatic drinkers will skip the semantics and go on enjoying good beer, no matter who makes it.

Beer reviews

South East Brewing Behemoth Black Ale 500ml $17.95
Behemoth black ale truly is a huge and monstrous creature. Its impenetrable darkness, 10.8 per-cent alcohol, massive malt and mother lode of hops strain at the chains, before running amok on the palate, saturating it with, well, monstrous flavours of the sweet, malty, bitter kind. For consenting adults only.

St Louis Kriek Lambic 250ml $4.00
Belgium’s kriek-lambic beers were originally lambic beer (sour, spontaneously fermented with a tag-team of yeasts and other microbes), to which whole cherries (kriek) were later added for fermentation. This sweetened, but still spontaneously fermented version, provides a glimpse of the idiosyncratic, sour style, albeit a little sweet for my palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 30 June and 1 July 2015 in goodfood.com.au and the Canberra Times