Now we’re not talking about cooking up love potions with eye of newt or schoolgirls practising magic rituals, entertaining though that might be (that’s a 90s film reference, by the way, dust off your VHS and check it out!). No, we’re referring to the arcane art of beer making and, in particular, the production of craft beer, which is defined rather prosaically, as ‘a beer made in a traditional or non-mechanised way by a small brewery’. Phew, almost puts you off drinking it! But only almost, because we just love craft beer and not only because its producers are perfect customers for our G1 or G2 machines.
So when did it start?
Given that it’s the production of beer in a traditional way by a small brewery, one could argue that craft brewing was the original way of making beer. Those were the good old days, when beer was a healthy choice because access to clean drinking water was almost non-existent.
However, most people’s memories only go back a few decades so we’ll start with the 70s – when the big brewers, in tank-tops and flares, starting to mass-produce beer. Now this wasn’t all bad, despite the clothes and Watney’s Red Barrel Monty Python sketch, but a lot of it was very uniform and over-fizzy. So, a group of beer devotees got together in 1971 to form the Campaign for Real Ale or Camra.
The lovely folk at Camra raised the UK’s consciousness about a historic heritage that was under threat from the tasteless, mass-produced muck and also got the timing just right; package holidays were becoming available to people who would not otherwise have gone abroad and they were trying local, ‘craft’ beer on their travels. The difference between what they were being fed at home and the great stuff they were drinking on their holidays became even more apparent, so the interest in Camra’s objectives began to blossom.
Beer in a book
In addition, a new beer guide came out, so that people who had tried and liked certain brews on their travels could read about the ones they’d missed and plan new trips to new countries. The World Guide to Beer, produced by the late British beer writer and advertising man, Michael Jackson, became the beer lover’s Bible. And not only did a taste for ‘real’ beer bloom in the UK but also in the US, as lovers of Michael’s prose started to set up microbreweries and brewpubs across America.
It started in the States
The growing movement for craft beer we’re now enjoying really started in the USA and took off like a rocket, with many seeing the founding of The New Albion Brewery in Sonoma as the true renaissance of American craft brewing. Although the brewery went bust after only six years, by then, craft beer had become embedded in the beer lover’s psyche.
But then it went back to its roots
Sadly, Michael Jackson didn’t get to see the reinvention of beer in the UK, as it mostly started after his death in 2007, when people with a thirst for the brown stuff started setting up brewing equipment in railway arches, kitchens and garages. Most production was local and it was all pretty small but the craft brewing revolution was underway in the country of its birth – in fact, the UK now has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the world.
As one craft brewer commented, the UK craft beer market is both crowded (with breweries) and yet still in its infancy; new ideas and processes are being pioneered all the time, leading to the production of better quality beers than ever before. So the only way, truly, is up. And from what we’ve seen working in the US, the same is true there.
And now its being produced in cans!
Formerly the preserve of bottles or kegs, craft beer is now being produced increasingly in cans. If Michael Jackson were alive today, he would be writing about the canned beer revolution – perhaps if his namesake the prince of pop was around, he’d be singing about it! You can’t open a website or magazine that has anything to do with food and drink without seeing an article on one or another craft brewer proudly launching their star beer in cans. In fact, according to the American Brewers’ Association, sales of canned beer are increasing faster than the increase in bottle sales and now around 17 per cent of all beer in the States is sold in cans, about three times the volume of three years ago.
Which brings us back to our reason for being
As we like to say in the office, where there’s a can, there’s a carrier and the carrier of choice has to be WaveGrip. We’ll leave you to read why here. And once you’re convinced, get in touch. After all, we craft beer lovers should stick together!