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What’s Big Beer? What’s Big Craft?


A nice piece of reporting by Eric Gorski last week provoked still more excellent questions from Alan McLeod, but before getting to those links I’m wishing I could find entries defining Big Beer and Big Craft in my beer dictionary. Steve Hindy used the first in his oft-cited New York Times op-ed piece, Free Craft Beer!, and regular readers of A Good Beer Blog will be familiar with the latter. History suggests asking for narrow definitions causes mostly pain (see craft beer), but I’m feeling a bit confused.

Does American craft brewing have a quality problem? and One Key Way Big Craft And Small Brewers Differ. You couldn’t turn around at the Craft Brewers Conference last week without bumping into somebody with a beard or somebody talking about the importance of quality (sometimes one in the same). As well as examining those concerns, Gorski’s story points out that the cost of quality control and quality assurance are not a barrier to entry. And quite often during presentations (there were 10 at a time) on the technical brewing track included useful checklists (vital equipment, what can be checked in house, which is better tested by an outside lab, etc.) and information about the importance of in-house sensory panels.

Of course, quality beer and “good beer” (not more capital letters and pleas for definitions) are not one in the same. Which is why you should also read the second link.

[Via The Denver Post and A Good Beer Blog]

Vive La Difference? Good question — and surely related to the concept of Big Craft — as still another brewery from the West goes shopping for an East Coast home: “There is a question though that nags away in the back of my head, would it not be utterly disingenuous to consider Stone a ‘local’ brewery, or their beer as ‘local’?” [Via Fuggled]

Complacency and “craft” in Munich. If that headline alone isn’t enough to get you to click the link you must not be a regular here. [Via I might have a glass of beer]

Sierra Nevada founder sits down to talk beer. Passed along because as much as been written recently about Ken Grossman and Sierra Nevada’s new North Carolina brewery there are still things to learn. Like that he often slept in a trailer on site while the brewery was being built. [Via Blue Ridge Now]

Terroir? What Exactly Do You Mean? Harvey Steinman might think he’s writing only about wine, but there are clues here to help to sort out the notion of beer from a place. “Is terroir about the basic material, or how it expresses itself in the wine?” And, “Some want to include ‘the work of man’ in their definition of terroir. But that’s regional style, not an expression of terroir.” [Via Wine Spectator]

8 Responses to What’s Big Beer? What’s Big Craft?

  1. Alan April 14, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    Hmmm… Big craft? It’s what I like to avoid now along with the “flavoured” beers of the barrel (“wow, it tastes like the barrel”) or the adjunct “wow! monkey brains”). When I am in your fair country as I was on Saturday night participating at an Albany Ale talk, I enjoy local and small. At ten event, I had an oatmeal stout from Browns of Troy and a Simcoe IPA from Crosswinds of Athens NY. Later I had a Keegan milk stout as well as NY Nine Pin cider. All excellent and all local.

    The spin doctors of the BA have quickly turned on their own young after the flop of the “crafty campaign”. Now the false news is that small is poor quality. Nothing could be less true. Give me fresh, local and small over inter-state trucked and dated any day.

    Big craft? Maybe it’s just the trucking logistics staff thing. Maybe it’s the celebrity brewers required to give personality to the long haul product. All I know is I can’t afford the surcharge needed to prop it up when so many excellent and actually small brewers exist offering beers at excellent prices.

    • Stuart April 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      I just read the Post story and it doesn’t seem like Gatza is telling consumers they should buy beer only from established breweries. The way I read it the BA is telling brewers of focus on making beer well, and he was speaking to them at their own conference not something public like GABF.

  2. Bailey April 14, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    (Pondering) Is the craft beer ‘movement’ about permanent revolution? Or establishing a new order? Will ‘big craft’ inevitably become the new ‘big beer’ (bland, solely profit-driven) and thus trigger the start of a new cycle?

    • Stan Hieronymus April 14, 2014 at 10:41 am #

      Given that the two biggest are Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada I don’t see ‘bland’ anywhere on the horizon.

  3. Alan April 15, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    I think your timeline is a bit long, BB. All we need is an EP Taylor of our times. Or maybe five.

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