Recently there have been a flood of articles trying to define just exactly what “craft beer” is. Just in the past two years, we’ve heard opinions from respected industry veterans, rants from the passionate overseas enthusiasts and even seen the definition provided by a popular trade organization change. My personal favorite definition came from another beer blogger who defined craft beer as “anything that tasted like grapefruit.” If it didn’t taste like grapefruit, it wasn’t craft beer.
Clearly THIS is the best definition to date offered.
In the midst of all the arguments we forgot one important thing, what craft beer represents. We could argue for hours that a brewery isn’t craft if it uses “adjuncts” (which for some reason has gained a negative connotation even though it shouldn’t have), is owned by one of those giant overseas breweries or produces more than a certain amount of barrels per year.
Instead, we should be focusing on craft beer and what it represents.
My girlfriend and I recently moved. Instead of getting a root canal, I thought it would be more fun to pack up everything we own and literally move down the street. (See first article written that describes Steve’s genius ideas and insert this one alongside those). Always more pleasant than the move itself is asking some of your friends to help. It’s like sending them a letter saying they have to report to jury duty.
About a week before the move, two people that I have come to known in the past couple of years offered to help. Two people that I met solely because of craft beer.
The first runs a local neighborhood family liquor store called Vas Foremost. His name is Pete. I started going to Vas Foremost because it is one of the best places to buy craft beer in the area. Over the three years that I have been going there, Pete and I have developed a friendship. I go into his store often to not only re-stock my fridge but to “shoot the shit” about life. At times, I’ll spend an hour inside of his store talking with him about nothing related to beer at all.
Pete is a busy guy. He has four kids and works more than almost anyone I know. The fact that he offered what little free time he had to help us move speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.
The second person who helped us out is Jeremy. Jeremy is another craft beer geek that I met years ago via a beer trade. Since then, Jeremy and I have become good friends, all because of our common passion. Even though our passion takes on different forms, we both highly respect each other because of this thing we both love. I look to Jeremy for all of those incredibly tasting, highly sought-after beers that I have never heard of that he has. Jeremy looks to me for my love of knowledge and the old world styles.
Both of these friendships developed and continued over the years because they are rooted in craft beer.
That is what craft beer is to me and that is how I define it. Craft beer creates friendships and a community. It brings people together through the love of a beverage created from four primary ingredients. Dark Lord Day. Homebrew clubs. Bottle shares. Beer-pairing dinners. Online forums. Trading. Beer tourism. All of these things create a shared common bond that one can never understand unless they are a part of it.
Last year, my girlfriend and I went to Cantillon in Belgium. While we were there we met two other American couples and started an impromptu bottle-sharing event. Each couple took turns purchasing bottles available and then shared them with the rest of the group. It was one of the best days of my life.
Craft beer is finally defined.