Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Marketers make April Fools of CAMRA

I genuinely thought someone was having a laugh when I heard that CAMRA’s AGM had accepted a motion “recognising” that “craft beer is beer with a distinctive flavour brewed by artisans”.

Since writing “artisan” is essentially just using an Italianate word instead of a Germanic one, this basically says craft beer is beer made by craftsmen.

At one fell swoop CAMRA has not only fallen into the trap of legitimising this brewers’ marketing term, it’s lumbered itself with the dumbest and most useless definition of it. We might as well say that “craft beer is awesome beer made with passion” for all the use it is.

Perhaps next year we can also define “world beer” as “imported beer that appeals to adventurous drinkers seeking an authentic premium taste.”


  1. It doesn't sound any sillier than "traditional ingredients" in the definition of Real Ale.

  2. Or, for that matter, "Real ale" when applied to beers sold under the name, and often featuring the image of, a defunct bucolic brewery its manufacturers bought for the express purpose of closing down and transfering production to its gigantic Suffolk mothership. It's difficult to imagine anything more ersatz.

    1. You not a fan of Greene King either then.....personally I just don't trust the blandness and inconsistent quality.

  3. Bit of whataboutery there Father, deflecting my criticism of something I object to by bringing up something at best tangentially related which you know quite well I also object to.

  4. Yup, it's as meaningless as all the other definitions of 'craft beer'.

    1. As Bill Clinton said, it depends what the meaning of "is" is. If the motion had said "craft beer is a term generally used to indicate beer with a distinctive flavour brewed by artisans" I wouldn't have much of a problem with it, because that is the way it's used. (Never mind that it doesn't mean much more than 'beer we like made by people we like'.) To say that is what it means is a bit silly.

      'Artisans' is preferable to 'craftsmen' because it's not gender-specific; I imagine they knew they'd get resistance from some of the old farts if they went with 'craftspeople'. Rumours that a defeated amendment would have added the words 'and artisanesses' are unfounded.

      Somebody somewhere is copying down your 'world beer' definition, I bet you.

  5. Now that CAMRA have recognised it, I for one am willing to accept it exists. Frankly until the beards condescend to recognise something I refuse to acknowledge even the possibility of its existence.

  6. Might have been a bit less misleading this Rob if you'd quoted what CAMRA actually agreed with:

    This Conference believes that
    CAMRA policy should recognise
    that “Craft Beer” is beer with
    a distinctive flavour brewed by
    artisans. As a consequence, most
    real ales are craft beers but not
    all craft beers are real ale and
    CAMRA’s communication should
    reflect this.

  7. The conclusion is irrelevant here Tandleman. It's the first sentence I'm taking issue with.

  8. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the wider context of this is your (broadly legitimate) argument that "craft beer" has no objectively definable meaning applicable to, or reflective of, the manifest product, and can thus be appropriated by brewers and marketing men at will. I'm merely pointing out that there are attendent, though less intrinsic, problems with "real ale", to whose objectivity you often contrast "craft beer."

    CAMRA has already been mugged by the marketing men, so to speak.

  9. Digested:

    "Craft beer" is nebulous. "Real ale" is arbitrary.