craft brewery

How Craft Beer Became “Craft”

Q. Who invented the term “craft beer”?

A. According to beer writer Stan Hieronymus, Vince Cottone, a beer columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, first used the phrases “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery,” and “craft brewing” in the manner they’re thought of today. Cottone’s readers knew what he was talking about, but it took a while for the phrase “craft beer” to establish itself.

Charlie Papazian, the founder of the Association of Brewers, first defined “craft brewery” in New Brewer magazine in 1987. Since then, the craft-brewing industry has established three criteria: small (annual production of 6 million barrels or less; independent (less than 25 percent owned by a non-craft brewer; and traditional (flavored malt beverages aren’t “beers”).

That definition didn’t exactly settle the matter. Some in the industry point out that large companies employ craftspeople to brew their beer, and that well-known craft brands are becoming increasingly industrialized. Others find the term “craft beer” rather meaningless.

There’s the even bigger debate over what “craft beer” is. The industry doesn’t define it, but recently pointed the accusing finger at several beers—Blue Moon and Shock Top in particular—as craft beer impostors.

Some enthusiasts have even higher standards. Jace Marti, the brewmaster at August Schell Brewing Company, told Hieronymus that an attendee at last year’s World Beer Cup refused to taste his beers, which had won two medals. The attendee told him, “You shouldn’t be here. It’s adjunct beer”.

How Long Can Craft Beer’s Run Last?

Time magazine’s Brad Tuttle wonders how much longer craft brewing’s run can last. His list of concerns starts with the new definition of “craft brewery”: six million barrels a year hardly fits the image of the indie underdog challenging Big Beer–which, for its part, has rolled out “crafty” beers like Third Shift and Blue Moon.

Then there’s sticker shock. A growing number of craft breweries are putting their high-end beers in 22-ounce bomber bottles. They justify the high price of the product by comparing it to wine, but Tuttle points out that a customer with a bit of math savvy can figure out that the per-ounce cost of bomber beer is twice that of beer sold in six-packs.

The Friday Mash (Winter’s Tale Edition)

Winter is here! The southern solstice occurred at 11:12 am Greenwich Mean Time. Both ancient and modern cultures have marked the first day of winter, and the lengthening days that follow it, with rituals and celebrations–and the liberal consumption of beer.

And now….The Mash!

We begin in Nashville, where country singer Thomas Rhett has stirred up a hornets’ nest with his new single, “Beer With Jesus.” It stands at number 21 on the country charts.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint against Earls Restaurants, which serve Albino Rhino beer. Earls says the name is derived from an animal, not people suffering from albinism.

Why did St. Sixtus monastery allow Westvleteren 12 to be sold in the United States? The monastery needed a new roof, and the monks knew American beer geeks would pay big bucks for their ale.

One of the beer world’s trends of 2012 is nanobreweries. These pint-sized breweries (pun intended) require less than $100,000 to start, and their product serves as “a liquid business card.”

From the Odd Couple Department: in La Crosse, Wisconsin, City Brewery is turning biogas into electric power, then sending some of it to Gundersen Lutheran Health System, which is aiming to achieve energy independence.

Ever have problems transporting multiple growlers? Now there’s a solution: Growler on Board, which not only holds three growlers, but also keeps them from bumping into one another.

Finally, the Brewers Association’s definition of “craft brewery” didn’t sit well with the August Schell Brewing Company. The 152-year-old brewery blasted the BA for excluding it because its grain bill includes a small amount of corn.

This just in: Ludwig wants you to know that he’s going on vacation for the Christmas holidays. The lion limo will arrive Sunday, and he doesn’t expect to get back until after New Year’s. In the meantime, keep quaffing those holiday ales.

The Friday Mash (Popcorn and Beer Edition)

On this day in 1907, Orville Redenbacher was born in Brazil, Indiana. Even as a youngster in 4-H, he was determined to make the perfect popcorn. His efforts paid off: popcorn made him both rich and famous; and nearly 15 years after his death, Orville Redenbacher remains the number-one selling brand.

If all this talk about popcorn made you thirsty, fear not. The Mash is coming your way!

We lead off with this year’s international Beer Challenge, where the Supreme Champion was Samuel Adams Utopias 2009.

Karl Ockert, the founding and long-time brewmaster at Portland, Oregon-based BridgePort Brewing Company, will leave the brewery on July 30. Ockert, who is credited with turing Portland into “an IPA town,” will become Technical Director at the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

Duquesne Beer, a Pittsburgh-area favorite a generation or two ago, is coming back. The reincarnated version will be brewed with pricier hops–Saaz and Hallertau varieties from Europe, and hops from Washington State–as well as two-row malt.

Bobby Don Johnson, the Lafayette Craft Beer Examiner, offers his take on what makes a beer “drinkable”, and how “drinkable” differs from “sessionable.”

Legislation in Congress that would cut small brewers’ taxes continues to pick up support on Capitol Hill. According to the Brewers Association, 17 senators and 87 representatives have signed on as co-sponsors.

Finally, from the Department of Ancient History: a story in the April 10, 1988, New York Times attempted to distinguish micro-brewers, craft brewers, and “pub brewers.” Hat tip: Alan McLeod of A Good Beer Blog.

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