Don’t Define Craft Beer – Define Industrial Beer

Sierra Nevada Pilot BreweryIt seems as though the “craft brewing” industry has wasted many hours/days/weeks debating over exactly what craft beer is.

Is it the number of litres produced? Who owns the brewery, the shareholders? The philosophies behind their brewing?

We should really be trying to define what the liquid is and the types of breweries the big multinationals are.

If you historically look at beer and breweries – you would have had brewpubs, small breweries providing the local area and some surrounding towns, and regional breweries and national breweries.

“Craft Beer” – the world normalizing after the takeovers, closures of the 20th century which rid the world of so many breweries in the name of market share for a handful on mega breweries. “Craft Beer” is beer, it is just the natural state of things.

Industrialisation has brought about positives and negatives for brewing and beer. Yes there have been some great technological advancements to make beer better, which today even benefits the smallest brewer. On the negative side though the “near beer” wort streams these industrial mega factories produce are a disgrace to the history of all brewers.

The decisions about the beer being brewed are made around how to making it cheaper, have less taste so it is the least offensive to the greatest number of people. The sad thing is it is what most people drink. It’s just “beer”, and as long as its cold they are happy(?). Much the same as – as long as the fries they get with the burger are hot at the drive through, they are happy(?).

These big mega breweries have become the same as battery farms, or cattle feedlots. Increasing yield and increasing profit does what for the consumer? It makes the beer tasteless and cheap. You get what you pay for. The only way so called premium beer is premium is the premium price people pay for it. Actually premium beer in green glass bottle is less premium because it lets the damaging light in. (Brown bottles are actually more premium than green).

All “Craft Beer” is beer.

But is “Industrial Beer” beer?

What is the definition of “industrial beer”


An article showing the term “Craft Beer” is just about to devolve into just “Beer”.  Sorry, Hipsters: These Mainstream Beers Will Soon Be ‘Craft’ Too

What is Craft Beer – Brewers Association


UPDATE: Is Sam Adams Too Big to Be Craft Beer?

8 thoughts on “Don’t Define Craft Beer – Define Industrial Beer”

  1. YES. And I’d argue that craft beer has been, ever since it was “microbrew” and “boutique beer” (a horrible name), defined mostly as “not industrial beer.” That would be an honest definition. But really? It’s beer. Love the hashtag; stealing it. #CraftBeerIsDeadLongLiveCraftBeer

  2. This is my favourite way to approach it, too. A friend of mine — a musician herself — made the analogy to “pop music”; the crappier-intentioned industrialised sellout should be the bit that has to wear the extra adjective.

  3. The problem as always is in the definition. Making beer in volume is pretty much always an industrial process, so even brands we’d say are absolutely ‘craft’ like Epic, Yeastie Boys etc are made in a factory with a bunch of automation – because that’s the only way to get the volume up to meet demand (imagine trying to mash in on a 5000L batch by hand?). I’m not aware of anyone in the industry who’s not looking to turn a buck from it, so profit motive isn’t the answer either.
    Seems like ‘intent’ is the key defining factor, and that’s always going to be difficult to measure. Maybe it’s down to how the company is structured – an organisation with a focus on cost and bottom lines first, and brewing second, isn’t really interested in beer so much as it’s interested in money (the beer is just a product, like socks would be), so maybe that’s how we define the ‘industrial’ side? Then everything else is simply ‘beer’. 🙂

    1. Paul, you will likely find that the level of automation at ‘craft’ breweries in this country starts and stops at the on and off button on the pump. No computers here. And at Steam Brewing the batch sizes are 10,000 litres. On/Off button thats all.
      Sierra Nevada is the case study for this. Massive brewery, but best philosophy when it comes to beer and quality first, no matter what. Agreed if the quality and taste of the beer is first then its not likely to be industrial swill.


    Craft Beer and Regular Beer is tested along these four exclusive lines, where one is missing it fails the Craft test:

    8% Market. Often high net worths, suits and poor Beer affectionados drink this. Kind of like eating eye fillet steak every once in a while. It is drunk in low volumes.
    >> Epic, 8 Wire, Parrotdog, Sprig & Fern, Renaissance etc…

    20% Market. Often people who go to work in a tie drink this. This in moderate volume. Kind of like eating ribs.
    >> Steinlager, Becks, Heineken, Stella, Moa.

    72% market. Often labourers drink this in high volume, they are fine with it. Kind of like eating BBQ saussies.
    >> Tui, Speights, Lion, DB, Export

    If there is a Craft beer, and it claims to be craft, yet it is cheap (many are too underpriced). It is a fake craft beer that when you sip it you are instantly on a negative note, and think you are being ripped off and this comes through in harsh criticism of tastings. Just like a pretty girl if she wears a cheap short skirt and all cleavage and bleached blonde, you don’t think she is the real deal straight off the bat – you don’t instantly fall in love sort of thing…

    Conversely, if you have a large brewer that call them selves ‘Craft’, yet you know they have many shareholders not brewer-owner operated (Macs/CB/Monteiths/Steinlager), higher volume and cheaper cost, you know they are lying. It’s IMPOSSIBLE for big brewers to create Craft by all definitions aforementioned. Just as it’s impossible for McDonalds to make a proper Chef-made Restaurant Burger.

    This rule is applied in the strictest most fashion. Yes, ownership is important when defining craft, just as volume and quality is important.

    Those whom sell their invention is equivalent to adultery or selling your wife for money. Why? It’s financial suicide to stop your job and start a micr0-brewery as 70 of them for 8% of the market. Men often leave there jobs, get into enormous debt, to slave away in their passion because they love the beer THAT much. They don’t love the MONEY that much. It’s idealism at it’s greatest. And yes it does exist. There will be a purist breeding of them out there, that will never sell-out. The Italians are good at it. And if they have a fabulous brew to boot, these are the Royalty of the Liquor Industry.

    Point in case – Emerson’s is no longer a real local Craft selling out to the Japanese. That’s right. It trickles into the mgmt structure as well. Moa is not a real local Craft either, as soon as it listed (however, it is still a high-quality craft on an international scale, which is where they are wanting to go, so it is accurate to describe it as a NZ-first International Craft. With Moa, it’s just a shame NZ is not behind it at all, and this is most probably because of all the internal problems NZ brewing has now, they don’t feel like a groomed ponsy bunch of out of touch wealthy men in french suits parading around sexism and arrogance, they want more humble pie brotherhood approach as a foundation to build the NZ beer industry globally). Can’t do that… until we fix the home turf…

    Anyway you say why such harshness? Here’s why:

    Each time you people sell our genius creations that people of NZ love, to old faceless shareholders, worse still offshore foreign investors…. you sell a slice of NZ sovereignty and identity. At it’s root level, it is manipulation and whoredom. As before we know it, we have an entire liquor industry that is either Dutch or Japanese-owned, siphoning hundreds millions of profits offshore that aren’t spent in the economy in families and business creation where it is MOST needed. Especially in NZ with an anorexic economy and the rise of the Working Poor :o(.

    At its most fundamental level, not only do we bitch about the economy after work each day over a beer, topics include crap pay, house prices not making the wife happy (again all problems caused by foreign ownership of homes, companies and jobs), but when we go and yarn with our mates about such manly-difficulties, we ALSO have to suffer through a shit beer as well. It’s a double bullet. Not good and ripe for revolution. It’s like the millennial version of Morton Coutts 2.0.

    That’s why looking through alcohol history – to turn a blind eye to the sell-outs like Ross, McCashin and Emersons – they all sold out for squillions. And you think, yes good for them, they built other things afterwards. Yes they did – and that was great for them solely. But while they were doing that and having a grand old time with millions, 92% of the liquor market got STOLEN from the working class of New Zealand into Foreign Hands.

    And so if you looked back or even now – why didn’t they/don’t they join together themselves with their millions and create a Big NZ-Owned Liquor Distribution Company themselves to take on the Giants in this multi-billion dollar industry. Why not rally up all the micro-brewers. Throw in Lynette Erceg. And see what Lion and DB have to say about that…

    Never forgetting after all, the genesis of the burgeoning Micro-brewery industry of ten years past, evolved the moment the influx of foreign ownership took hold of the majority of market share. And men’s tongues and nostrils smelt a yeasty imposter rat, like some bad case of thrush. Because, by and by, when you have that many old offshore faceless shareholders wanting an aristocratic cut out of our working class blood (represented in labour and beer), they will, eventually dilute the quality (and pay) in the instances where we don’t increase profitable consumption – which happens in a recession. And as said, they are the reason why NZ at majority is poor in the first place.

    So quite frankly, Men of this Country, won’t stand for this for that much longer… this … disease. This illness. This non-sense. This backwardness. This S H I T they try to feed us.

    They can take our companies.

    They can take our jobs.

    They can take our homes.

    They can take our land.

    They can even dirty our waters and raid our resources and kill our miners.

    But what they absolutely CANNOT EVER do, is take our BEEEEEERRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! RAHHHHHH

    [pulls out cannons and artillery].

    And that is the passion of a Craft Brewer, of why Craft Brewers are here in response to an economy gone backwards where all things are rooted in beer (see ‘How Beer Saved The World’ doco). And also, how important it is to be sovereign and Independent.

    The Captain.

  5. Isn’t that interesting. Where the brewery quantities bottomed out to only 89 brews in 1980, this coincided with the flourish in capitalism and denigration of Worker Unions power of the last 30 years. Whereas, prior to this from 1900-1980 ( on the most part aside from the wars and prohibition) it was more about the golden era of more socialism and strong Union movements ( typically 1950s etc).

    What does this say? It tells us that men at mass (mostly beer drinkers) drink beer when they have a shit time because of money from employers. And when things are rosy like the 50s, they don’t drink beer not nearly as much.

    You’d think it was consistent. But no – its probably one of the most delicately balanced industries. Probably like jewellery.

    Learnings: in recessions and bad times of disempowerment, people drink more. So if its a recession such as now, it’s a good time to invest in a brewery.

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