Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cask Ale, Craft Beer, and More Important Things to Do.

My daughter was born last Wednesday, about six weeks earlier than expected. She's small and jaundiced but eating and growing like a champ. So that explains my absence. It also makes a lot of other things seem relatively unimportant. Like false dichotomies and straw-man arguments about beer.

As we did with our first kid, we celebrated with some 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze and sushi. We added some fresh, local ceviche this time. The bottle was from a stash shipped over from Brussels before we left there last spring. I wonder how many bottles of 3 Fonteinen have been consumed in Central America, ever.

Anyhow, I see I've missed a lot this week. It pains me to be so late to the party kicked off by the CAMRA chairman at that organization's recent meeting -- not that anyone cares what another Yank has to say about it. He blamed beer bloggers for supporting craft beer, which he essentially defined as keg beer. That makes me sad. And I'm not even British.

I'd like to think that I can view that whole nonsensical real ale versus craft beer debate with a clear set of eyes. My two cents, briefly:

1. Thanks to CAMRA, cask ale is the heart and soul of craft beer in the UK.

2. There is no need to define craft beer precisely. Believe it or not.

It should be enough to know that craft beer began as a reaction to the sort of boring stuff that spurred CAMRA to action in the first place. Like it or not, CAMRA is one example of a much wider, international, intercultural epicurean movement for better food and drink. In fact, CAMRA is one of that movement's greatest successes. Whenever that epicurean movement is concerned with better beer, then most of the time we are talking about craft beer. And that's the closest thing to a definition you're likely to get from me.

A last thought: If we define craft beer precisely then we lose opportunities to argue about it. CAMRA members have been spoiled by years of defending an easily defined method of dispense. But arguing can be fun. Remember Stan's Rule No. 5: It is only beer.

I'd like to say a lot more, if for no other reason than to arm my British friends with talking points for pub-chatter sport. But I'm off to the hospital again. We've got a tiny little girl who likes to be held.


  1. Congratulations, i'll raise a glass tonight to her.

  2. Holding your child is vastly more important, and satisfying, than holding any beer. The very best of wishes to your daughter, her mother and you.

  3. Congratulations. I'm having one on you today! Best for all of the family