Monday 22 April 2019

Perhaps The Twain

The Pub Curmudgeon has written a good post 'Never The Twain' on his blog comparing cask beer to craft, and pointing out that many handcrafted real ales could be justifiably called craft. While he's correct, it's an argument that's probably been lost because popular linguistic usage isn't always logical - for example, did you know that 'flammable' and 'inflammable' mean exactly the same thing?

In October 2012, I was able to write about craft:
I don't have a problem with the existence of craft beer, including keg, and wouldn't refuse to try it, if I knew anywhere I could buy it, but the nearest place I'm aware of is in Manchester, 40 miles away.
There were probably closer places that I didn't know about, but the point that craft wasn't generally available was correct at the time. However, such days are long gone and it is now commonplace. In the spirit of experimenting I have tried a few and, as I've previously written, have found that some have been well brewed and have a good flavour. The main difference concerns the method of dispense, and drinking craft is to me like drinking bottled beers, which is something I might do at home or at a party. In the pub I simply prefer real ale. 

When writing about pubs for the weekly CAMRA column in our local papers, I'll always mention craft beers if they're on sale; I have been writing these for more than three years now and none of our local 800 members have ever complained about it, which tends to counter the 'stick-in-the-mud' accusations against the campaign. Indeed, some CAMRA festivals have even been putting on a craft bar.

I know some drinkers who happily drink both styles regularly, and I expect that tendency will increase as the original craft drinkers grow older and the subsequent generations of beer drinkers simply see handpumps, craft fonts and bottles as normal components of pub or bar scenery - not as defining their personal identity. If I'm right, then 'Never The Twain' will become history.

Today I don't detect the hostility between vociferous cask and craft advocates that I certainly used to see on some blogs and websites, in the risible antics of BrewDog, and in the letters page of 'What's Brewing', the CAMRA newspaper - but, oddly enough, didn't tend to encounter in the real world.


  1. The point I was making was that cask and craft have come to be regarded as mutually exclusive categories, not that their drinkers are antagonistic towards each other. People have always been much more "repertoire drinkers" than CAMRA has made out.

  2. While I did understand your point, I thought I was suggesting there isn't really a divide among drinkers in the pub. The vast majority of ordinary drinkers don't spend time criticising others people's drinks: they're just there to enjoy their night out.

    As I pointed out, the former antagonism between cask and craft was mostly on blogs, websites, and the frankly embarrassing antics of BrewDog. One of my points was that I haven't ever come across this supposed tribal hostility - craft versus cask - in real life.

    A simple point. Surely not too hard to understand?


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