Leading British beer writer Pete Brown has just launched his lockdown project, a new book titled Crafting an Argument: Why the term ‘craft beer’ is completely undefinable, hopelessly misunderstood and absolutely essential.
Brown, author of books including Hops and Glory and Man Walks into a Pub, gave some insight into the topic at his well-received keynote speech at last year’s BrewCon presented by the Independent Brewers Association.
In his latest book, he takes those thoughts further, exploring the decades-long argument about definitions of ‘craft beer’, looking at it from a different perspective, and ultimately, attempting to prevent the craft beer movement from eating itself.
In his readable and entertaining style, Brown dismantles attempts to define the term ‘craft beer’ before taking a broader look at where beer fits into the context of other crafts such as wood turning, smithery and even macramé.
He shows that arguments around craft beer have largely forgotten what craft is all about. He explores the ever-changing nature of work, the meaning of knowledge, the evolution of language and the ways in which we engage with our immediate environment and the wider world.
Join Radio Brews live next week as we discuss the new book live with Pete, with the chance to put your own questions to him about the impossibility and importance of the term ‘craft beer’ Learn more about this Radio Brews News Live event here.
Arriving back at beer from such an oblique angle, he rediscovers the real reasons why so many people are so passionate about craft beer, and argues that situating beer within a broader understanding of craft shows that the term is rich in meaning, even if it can’t be pinned down to a measurable definition.
Brown says feelings run high around craft beer, which is what makes it a fascinating area for an in-depth exploration.
“The term feels like it’s been encroached upon, and craft beer associations are re-branding as independent – it feels like they’re on the way to dropping ‘craft’ altogether,” he said.
“While I argue that small, independent breweries are vital and need protecting, I think craft is a bigger concept, and one that can occasionally apply to bigger brewers too.
“If we abandon it in favour of talking solely about independence, I think we’ll have lost something precious.
“So this is an argument that while the term ‘craft beer’ can never be accurately defined or owned, it is nevertheless valuable and worth fighting for.”
This is the ninth book for Brown, who wrote and self-published it with his wife Liz Vater as a 13-week project conceived to get them through lockdown, though Brown says the thinking behind it goes back over ten years.
One of the leading beer thinkers of our time, Pete delivers up well-crafted, important insights into the nature of modern brewing. A must-read for brewers wanting to find their sense of place amongst the shifting sands of marketing, business, consumers and trends.
The digital version of the book was released this week and is priced at $11.99. A print version will follow soon.