There is a new scourge upon the land, and it is the word “craft.” What that means for beer fans in Los Angeles, I will get to later.
First a little historical backstory, when beer was emerging from the dark ages of light lager and more light lager they were initially called “micro-brewery” because the most handy way to differentiate this new breed of brewers was by size. They were all small in comparison to the troika of Bud-Miller-Coors.
As the years passed, these micro-breweries grew and became less micro than before. Eventually the term micro became unhelpful because good beer came in all shapes and sizes as did bad beer. Other group names came into play like brewpub and contract brewer.
This was the arena where “craft” came into play. The word has been used by myself and many others as a way to clarify what we are talking about when we talk about beer. But now there is agitation from the blogosphere and magazines such as All About Beer and Beer Advocate to do away and R.I.P. the term.
The reasoning being that not all craft beer is well crafted to the point where the name has lost its meaning. Another common arrow in the quiver is that the name beer nerds wrested from Bud-Miller-Coors because our beer is more beer-y than theirs.
Personally, I will continue to use the word “craft.” Partially because I am a stubborn donkey. But also because I don’t think that if you say beer to 10 people on the street that you may get 10 people saying “Bud.” But if you told them “craft beer” that you would get answers like Firestone Walker Brewing Co. or Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Until that changes, a modifier is necessary.
Secondly, I never believed that all craft beer was good beer to begin with. Craft does not tell you the quality. Just like the word “locally sourced” does not contain a guarantee of awesomeness.
This is where it gets to L.A. We need to be more descriptive of our beer. Don’t say that MacLeod’s is craft beer. When you speak of their brewery, call it a cask ale brewery with a focus on British style ales. Ladyface Ale Companie is a Belgian influenced craft brewery. Make sure that when our beer scene is talked about that people get the full story.
Your Beer of the Week comes from my home state of Oregon and it is either massive or gigantic. Wait. It is both. Massive! is a barley wine from Portland’s Gigantic Brewing. They boiled the British malt for eight hours to give it a big malt flavor. A good time to sample the brewery will be on February 10, when they will be featured at Sunset Beer Co.
Speaking of strong ales, February is Strong Ale Month at Rock N Brews in El Segundo. All month long the likes of The Bruery 2011 Cuir, Lagunitas 2011 Gnarlywine, Napa Smith 2011 Grateful Dog, Stone 2011 Belgo Anise Imperial Russian Stout, Avery 2011 Hog Heaven Barleywine, Lost Abbey 2012 Angel’s Share, and more will be on tap.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.