Tuesday, 8 January 2013
The Orwellian world of craft beer
I've had to raise an eye brow or two recently at the blogs of British craft brewers.
Brewdog have been proudly showing off pictures of their big new craft brewery, which looks suspiciously like any other modern brewery: gleaming stainless steel, 40000 L cylindroconical fermenters, centrifuge, high degree of automation. All great kit I'm sure, and it should turn out a huge amount of beer with ease, but how exactly is it craft?
"craft. noun . 1. an activity involving skill in making things by hand"
Perhaps the craft bit is the poorly painted murals on the office walls?
Meanwhile over in Cumbria Hardknott Dave has been declaring cask beer to be obsolete, preferring a more modern alternative i.e. keg. Now adding CO2 from a gas bottle may well make for a more consistent product but how exactly does removing the importance of skilled cellarmanship and natural carbonation make beer more craft? Consistency is good but isn't beer served from kegs less craft compared to beer served from casks? Doesn't abandoning cask to get rid of the lows also mean getting rid of the highs?
The gap between what the word craft means, and how it is increasingly used in relation to beer, reminds me of Orwell's doublethink:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
INDUSTRIAL IS CRAFT?