Now… What Is “Craft” Anyway?
Updated: Jul 22
... and while we’re at it… why do we care?!
1. UNCOUNTABLE NOUN
Craftsmanship is the skill that someone uses when they make beautiful things
with their hands.
Craft Beer. Two small words that mean a mouthful -- pun intended. “What does craft even mean?” This is one of the hot topics on our Craft Beer Tours, in Chania, Crete, Greece. Most people kinda know what it means, yet kinda don’t. So, until we get to discuss it here in person with a fresh one in hand, here’s what “Craft Beer” means in the humble opinion of this here craft beer enthusiast.
Let’s dig in.
Scientifically speaking, *adjusts glasses*, the Brewers Association of the United States defines an American craft brewery as “a small and independent brewer”.
They must be small in having a maximum annual production of 6 million barrels of beer
(… about 45 million pints). Secondly, they must be independently owned; only up to 25 percent controlled “by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.” They must also have a TTB Brewer’s Notice (federally issued permit) & of course, make beer.
Technicalities, check ✓.
Now moving on to the bigger picture, attention must be paid to the true marks that give Craft Beer its full significance, and ultimately answer “Why do we care about it?!”. In my opinion, it boils (or ferments) down to: innovation, craftsmanship & people-care.
One thing that sticks out is that Craft Beer is innovative by nature. From the beginnings of beer-making, brewers had little control over the magical process of brewing and fermentation. Humans didn’t know much about microorganisms (such as active yeast cells that turn liquids into alcohols and thus beer) until the 1850’s.
These clever people were forced to find inventive ways to alter their recipes in order to make their beer palatable to taste but more importantly so, not toxic.
Defining Craft Beer wouldn’t be possible without craftsmanship. As in artisan; someone proud of his/her work, passionate about the process as much as the finished product and who is immersed in their work the same way a maestro violin-maker or an haute couture designer is. Craft brewers truly craft, compose a symphony of tastes in their brewing.
Looking at the foundation of Craft Beer lies the building blocks of community & how much craft breweries support people. Although this is more typical of craft breweries, there certainly are commercial-scale breweries who treat their community like gold and on the flip side, small micro-breweries who don't give a hoot about their people. That being said, the general rule stands about people-care in the Craft world. This is the warm feeling you and I get at a brewpub, or our local bottle shops, or even drinking a fresh brew in the park. It’s the spirit of togetherness, of a “more is more” mentality, of give and take. It’s all for a greater good.
(*Disclaimer; I’m not suggesting that all Craft Beers taste good! On that note, if you drink an “off” craft beer, it might not be a mere brewing issue; it could be outside factors such as transportation, refrigeration, handling, etc. Think about it. So, instead of leaving a bad rating online or on an app, do this instead: send the brewery a quick message to help them make it better. Tell them what’s missing or what you’d like. That’s much cooler, folks.)
Those are my two cents about what makes “Craft Beer”. Craft Beer is important. Craft Beer is delicious potential. Good Craft Beer is worth every penny and every step taken to get it.
So when you’re traveling the Greek Islands, hop on over to Crete, Chania and join us for a Craft Beer Walking Tour. We’ll keep the conversation going and show you the gems of our breweries and timeless city.
Cheers to Good beer!