It’s unavoidable. Something which is supported with such moral vigour like craft beer is often going to form a social movement around it. People have something in common and come together to support it and it’s that passion that propels things like craft beer forwards in the mainstream conscious. But once a love of good beer steps out of the confines of the glass into lifestyle, things start to get a little bit difficult to define.
For something comparable to beer in terms of social movement; lets look at music. Music is vocal and/or instrumental sounds combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion (thank you Wikipedia). Now, under the umbrella of music their are a wide variety of genres, and those genres have their own social movements. For example, a love of metal often constitutes lifestyle choices – clothes, hair, personal hygiene (just messing!). People connect with it on a deeper level than just the noise coming from the speaker. Whereas the love of mainstream pop music is the embracing of a superficial, catchy tune and that in itself spreads to a wider social movement – as a choice not to be engaged. And there is no problem with that either, in small doses. But you’re not finding the meaning of life in a Nicki Minaj song, no matter how hard you try.
Music has its well defined genres, even if the borders are permeable. Craft beer as a social movement, is wrapped around something which is so hard to define in the first place. With no specific definition, whether by brewer or beer, in the UK and a plethora of other definitions around the world. Everyones interpretation is as unique as the next’s. Not exactly a perfect platform to define a social movement and base your life choices on.
The way I see it, is there is two main ways of a brewer approaching making beer. There is the ‘craft’ way, producing a beer which defines itself by its taste, quality ingredients and style. Then there is the ‘mainstream’ way; where the above is forsaken in the pursuit of low costing, standardised, refreshment – stacked high and sold cheap. I’d also state that I have no problem with either; a cheap Budweiser the Friday before payday is often very welcome.
That said, I love craft beer and what it stands for. Its rejection of mainstream mediocrity, the fact that it’s more than just a yellow liquid that you pour down your throat, that there is passion and ideas that inhabit every mouthful and that you can feel that someone cares about what you think of it; bad or good.
Do I think its defines me and the people I have in my social circle? Sure – but I can’t quantify that against any other choice I make with my consuming. I’d say a safer bet is to include it with a wider social movement that prides itself in the rejection of the bland and faux, that stands up for the little guy and searches for something more in everyday life. Are you part of that movement?
Thanks for reading!