You know when you feel truly passionate about something? Life beats it out of us after a while. But, sometimes, we are reminded of our younger self, through a song, or place or a smell or a voice or a ….
Tonight I was invited back to my homebrew club, Foam on the Range. The nostalgia rushed over me being in that room and connecting with old home brew friends. If you’ve never been to a Foam meeting, there is a certain irreverence to it that I now remember attracted me in the beginning. And, it is something that continues through my professional career as a brewer. Nothing is taken too seriously. A boo might ring out at any moment or the crowd might get lost in their own conversation and drown out the speaker for the night. Insults are shouted across the room at regular intervals. As I stood in that environment after a 4-year sabbatical, I realized how much I missed it.
It’s the kind of irreverent environment that is at the core of “craft beer” and the kind of environment that set a fire under me to quit my job and start a brewery. It is people from all walks of life getting together to share in a beverage that is thousands of years old while being on their own terms. It is an age old societal event, people gathering to share their creations and engage in both meaningful and meaningless conversation depending upon your mood and motivation.
After this bit of nostalgia, I returned home and put on one of my favorite old shows, Scrubs. Known for its musical choices, I found it more than a coincidence that this particular episode featured a contentious classic, Journey. Journey, in my opinion is lyrically some of the most inspiring and enjoyable music I have heard. Plus, as a drummer, I love the shit out of it. I went to a small very specific graduate program in Vermont and I ended up with a group of friends from a lot of different backgrounds. I think the first real connection we all had with each other was over Journey. Although we have gone different directions in life, we are all still in touch and despite some growth between us, I know that one Journey song would bring us right back to the A-team as we referred to ourselves.
I guess you are probably wondering where I’m going with this and why this is relevant to craft beer. I think I can sum it up in a thought that has been rattling around in my brain for a while but wasn’t full solidified until my reminiscent experiences of tonight. DON’T CALL US A CRAFT BREWERY!
I know, we wanted the moniker of craft forever, and many still do, but Renegade is done with it. The term craft has been modified, abused and twisted to the point of having no meaning. I feel so strongly about this issue that this may be the first of several blogs advocating for the end of the term “craft”.
The moniker of craft is now being used as a tool by the macro brewers to marginalize and set aside what we do. Craft, in a way, implies that we are some little side project that will go away. WE WILL NOT GO AWAY! Call it what you will, but better beer is here to stay. It is not a craft, or a project, it is a Billion Dollar business that contributes jobs and tax revenue.
Those of us that are now professional voices in this industry came from the nerdy homebrew ranks. We are used to being marginalized. We are used to being on the fringe. But the truth is we love Journey! Well maybe not all of us, but it’s a metaphor. Journey is one of the greatest underrated, easy to marginalize bands, pound for pound talent for talent, in my opinion.
Well “craft” beer is kind of that way. There are bullies out there that want to push us around. Let’s not make it easier on them. We are NOT CRAFT BEER! WE ARE BEER! My point being that making a quality product the way it is supposed to be made should not come with a qualifier. Fuck that, we are breweries. More than that, we are breweries with individual names and styles and personalities. By calling us collectively craft, the bullies have a single label to apply to marginalize all of us. But by calling us by name, they have to face each one of us, over 3000 strong and our individual quality, personality and creativity. Today, I propose the death of the term craft. WE ARE RENEGADE!