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22 Responses to Who first used the words craft beer?

  1. Velky Al July 9, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Some chap in marketing probably.

  2. Andy Crouch July 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    I believe it was Vince Cottone around 1986 in The Good Beer Guide (to the Pac NW). Although I also believe I have seen a quote from Jim Koch that may have pre-dated Cottone’s usage (who was also fond of using ‘gourmet beer’ as a descriptor.

  3. Stan Hieronymus July 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    You are right, Andy, that Cottone uses the term – and provides a definition, then an even more extensive definition what he calls “True Beer.”

    So I guess I should ask him if he’d heard it used elsewhere before he used it.

  4. Bob Devine July 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    I think the phrase “craft beer” comes out of the UK as part of the whole CAMRA/cask beer movement. Probably in early 1980s.

    Thereafter, it jumped to the US within a few years.

    It seems to be replacing “microbeer” in the US as more breweries grow beyond the tax law definition of micro.

  5. Andy Crouch July 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    That’s an interesting perspective. I’ve never seen craft beer used in the CAMRA context, let alone in any British journals, books, or press. Would be interested in seeing a Times or Guardian word search from pre-1985.

  6. Andy Crouch July 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    For what it’s worth, neither the Guardian or Times have a reference to craft beer appearing anywhere near Cottone’s printing.

  7. Martyn Cornell July 10, 2010 at 4:55 am #

    FWIW, the earliest mention of the phrase I can find in Google Books is from 1987, in something called the International Directory of Company Histories Vol 86, here – it’s snippet view only, unfortunately, but the use of the phrase in such a source suggests it had already gone “mainstream” by then. I don’t think “craft brewery” was ever a Camra or UK expression, particularly, incidentally, though I’d be prepared to be proved wrong.

  8. Alan July 10, 2010 at 8:14 am #

    I think the earliest reference I see to “craft brew” is from 1915… but not sure it is on point.

  9. Stan Hieronymus July 10, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Not on point, but funny.

  10. Alan July 10, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    On a more… on point note, I do like this 1988 ad from Stoudt’s using the phrase “real beer”. “Craft” morphed from being the equivalent of “nano” which describes scale and purity to something much vaguer, all things to all people – which has left it fairly meaningless.

  11. Ilya Feynberg July 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    There might be a chance you’re out of luck a bit on this one. I don’t think there is anyway possible to REALLY boil down who really first used the term. But I think the idea of craft brew and quite possibility the term itself has been circulating around for quite some time in the smaller almost niche circles of breweries.

    Here are some interesting articles centering around craft brewing and microbreweries. IF true of course, this could date back further than we’re debating here. The term could have even technically originated in another region of the world and in another language entirely. Just because we made it popular here not too long ago in the states, and use it our marketing for the smaller ones right now, doesn’t mean it’s anywhere even close to the first. Again, this is only if we’re talking about the LITERAL start date haha…


  12. Maureen Ogle July 11, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Damn. Why would you ask this question, KNOWING that I would want to drop everything and find out the answer. Which I would do, if I weren’t, ya know, otherwise engaged…

    (BUt if I get five minutes, I’ll rummage through my files and let you know what I find from the 1980s trade journals.)

  13. Mike July 11, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    I’m with Velky Al that this probably started in a brewery marketing department. And not necessarily a small brewery. I’ve also asked Ron and he doesn’t think it was used in the UK.

    Stan, in close connection with this, I would hope you would start a discussion about this:

    It may or may not be the first use of the term, but it certainly seems like the leading use of it today.

  14. Andy Crouch July 11, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    The BA was a late comer to the use of ‘craft beer’ so it isn’t, to my mind, much of a factor when it comes to the origins of the phrase. After reviewing various media archives and from my collection of beer books, I’ve never seen an earlier usage (along with a definition) than Cottone’s. Be interested to hear what others turn up.

  15. Mike July 12, 2010 at 3:22 am #

    Andy, I did not say they were the first. An important point this discussion seems to be missing is: was the first use valid? Did others then pick it up as a marketing term? Or was it a marketing term from the beginning?

  16. Stan Hieronymus July 12, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    A quick note, and I don’t want to discourage anybody from finding an earlier reference to “craft beer” than Vince Cottone in 1986 (that means you, Maureen) . . . but I did trade emails with Cottone and he writes that he doesn’t remember hearing the phrase before he used it, and defined it. He allows he might have picked it up in the UK.

    What he had to say in 1986 merits its own post – probably tomorrow – but I did want to address Mike’s question. It wasn’t conceived as a marketing term, but for Cottone to be able to write about a family of beers. However, he points out, that Jim Koch of Boston Beer (which began selling beer in 1985) quickly recognized the value of the term and began using it.

  17. Andy Crouch July 12, 2010 at 7:26 am #

    Thanks Stan, look forward to reading the post.

  18. Mike July 12, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Thanks for the reply, Stan. I hope you’ll agree that the link I posted is clearly a marketing use of the term, which, as Alan has already pointed out, makes it pretty meaningless.

  19. Andy Crouch July 12, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Hi Mike. As I noted, the Brewers Association (whose link you posted) was very late to the game when it came to using the phrase craft beer and I’m not quite sure the organization has used it (until very recently) so much as a marketing term as a way of distinguishing and defining its membership. In any event, it isn’t particularly relevant in this discussion regarding the phrase’s origins, which, from all accounts I’ve seen, were not marketing-based.

  20. Greg July 13, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    Martyn, your reference from Google Books is actually in a volume published in 2007 — had it handy in the library where I work. The first volumes in the series were published in 1988 and they’ve been adding 6-8 a year ever since but it usually is referenced under 1988 as year of publication. The entry you found is on the Lion Brewery in PA.

  21. Martyn Cornell July 16, 2010 at 4:10 am #

    Damn Google Books and their faulty meta-data! Should have guessed it was too early for the phrase to get into sucn a publication.

  22. Paul Gatza July 16, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    The earliest publication of the term “Craft Brewing” here at the Brewers Association that I know about is The New Brewer magazine, Vol. 1, No. 5, September-October 1984, pages 3-4 in Vince Cottone’s article “Craft Brewing Comes of Age.” The term is “craft beer” is not used in the article, but Vince used the phrases “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery” and “craft brewing” in the piece. I have a scan of the article available upon request. Paul is the prefix of my email, and is the suffix. Thanks.

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