Monday 9 December 2019

A new definition of Craft Brewery

In the excellent The Craft Brewing Handbook editor Chris Smart puts forward a new definition of "craft brewery" that gets closer to the real meaning of "craft", and indeed reality. First he rapidly demolishes guff about brewing less than 6,000,000 US barrels a year (7,000,000 hl), or crap about which particular capitalists own the company.

Instead he puts it down to something that surely makes more sense to any definition of craft: what the brew length is:

Brew length, the amount of wort produced for fermentation in each batch, seems a more equitable metric to me. It’s hard to argue that a brew length of just 10 or 20 hL isn’t craft. By comparison who would consider a brew length of 500 hL as craft? Not many, so, the number and perhaps a workable definition lies somewhere in between. It is worth noting that beer produced by a larger brewer in a pilot facility or smaller brewery would be covered within this definition as craft, personally I’m very comfortable with that. It is pretty arbitrary but I would consider anything below a brew length of 50 hL is craft, anything bigger than, say, 200 hL is possibly not, and we can all argue about the middle ground, preferably over a nice pint (or half a liter if you’re metric).

It does make more sense to me, though it's still not without problems. Is a flashy automated 50hl brewery that does eight brews a day really craft? And we have muttered at work that having to dig out the mash tun by hand provides an elegantly simple way of telling if a brewery is or isn't craft. But having said that just going on the brew length does work rather well, and if there is a grey area I quite like the suggestion that it should be argued about over a nice pint.

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