We previously talked to Oedipus Brewing about their thoughts on craft beer culture, but just as no two beers are the same, neither are breweries opinions on craft beer of similar taste. The Do-It-Yourself nature of brewers is a common thread in the craft beer world but you will have to read on to get a more complete picture of what the craft beer culture is about. This week we got together with another brewer who is smaller in size but definitely not lacking in flavor and talent, Butcher’s Tears. Check it out.
How would you describe the culture of craft brewers and craft beer drinkers given your experience with brewing over the years?
This is a complex question but I think at the core of it is a DIY (do it yourself) enthusiasm, discovery, and creativity basically. This comes at different levels. From the drinker's point of view there's the will to drink beer that is truly enjoyable, exciting, and sometimes surprising.
Speaking from your experience, what drives people’s decisions to drink craft beer?
It’s mostly taste driven. It can clearly be seen by the fact that a lot of, if not most, ”craft beers” around today are brewed by industrial scale breweries (contract brewing by third parties). It's obvious that craft beer is a style of brewing and branding rather than having much to do with craftsmanship, although people probably like to believe otherwise. However, I hope the future will bring more appreciation for truly artisanal brewing and the variety that comes with it.
What do you think started the craft brewing culture in the Netherlands that we see today?
Speaking from our own point of view, what started the craft brewing culture was access to a larger variety of, and better tasting, beers. The idea of drinking locally produced beer is also obviously appealing to a lot of people these days.
What have you discovered about the public’s perception of craft brewers?
It has gone from a niche interest of the few, possibly seen from the outside as a bit snobbish, to become trendy and cool with the middle class. But I think more and more people are realizing it's about the flavor and quality. Also, beer overall is getting a better reputation and is being taken more seriously now, then it may have in the past.
How do you feel larger producers compare to craft brewers?
It's different territory altogether. It’s almost like comparing beer brewers to wine makers or soft drinks producers in my opinion.
How do you feel about the way craft beer and brewing is being commercialized lately?
It's a bit ridiculous, but wherever there is potential profit to make there are gonna be those who jump at the chance.
Craft brewing became immensely popular in the last two decades or so and larger companies have started trying to replicate the craft style? How do you feel about this and how does this resonate in the craft brewing culture?
Some types of beer are better suited for industrial scale brewing and some are better suited for small scale brewing. As long as the beer is good it doesn’t really matter who brewed it or how. However, ”craft styles” tend to suffer from large scale production, which probably mostly has to do with cutting the cost/quality of ingredients and equipment not properly suited for the job. I guess we still have to wait and see if it's a good or bad thing for the craft brewing culture as a whole in the long term.
What sets craft beer culture apart from the normal beer culture?
I think craft beer culture is based around flavor and curiosity and, also, to some extent social identification. Normal beer drinking culture is not so much centered on the product but rather the situation in which you're drinking it. For example, now that the IPA (India Pale Ale) is a part of normal beer drinking culture, it's become less of a beer style and more of a catchphrase with a relatively vague meaning, much like ”lager.” From a commercial point of view, it's of course more important what you call it than what it actually is. At Butcher’s Tears we are more determined to call the beer what it is, because we feel it is important from an informative/educational standpoint.
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