Friday, 11 February 2011

Brood: Why Craft Beer Means Something

Picture from here

Craft beer is a term which means something to me. Granted, it’s an idea of something, a mentality as much as a tangible product, something for a certain type of drinker (someone who cares about the background, the taste; has interest in where it’s from and what it is), but to me it’s something which is relevant and important to the world of beer.

Say the term craft beer in the street and not many people will have heard it before, but only the dimmest wouldn’t make some connection in their mind between the term and the idea of brewing with some notion of the craft in mind (opposed to the industrial scale). Say hand crafted beer and it might be easier to understand; artisan maybe takes it to the next level, makes it sound a bit fancier, but tells you something about scale and heart. Now say real ale and maybe people will understand the concept a little better, but in reality, what is that person thinking? I guess the majority think brown beer, they see stereotypes. Ask them to try and describe what real ale actually is (why it’s called real ale) and I bet most people won’t be able to tell you accurately and nor will they care. And that includes many CAMRA members.

Yes, craft beer is an inherited notion from America, but it has a general meaning and that makes it important. The fact that we can use it in the UK or in Italy or New Zealand or Brazil, surely that means it’s a name which makes sense, which is transferable? Language evolves, colloquialisms develop and people evolve with them, which is why it’s fine for me to say awesome or dude or sweet (As in “Holy crap dude, your sweet new ride is awesome!”). Yes, they are Americanisms, maybe diverting from their original usage, and not everyone likes them, but at least you kind of know what I mean by it.

Perhaps Craft Beer is a term which is more readily used by younger drinkers. I recently wrote a piece about attracting new drinkers to real ale and every one of those I interviewed said that marketing and image puts their mates off. The term ‘real ale’ is part of that. Craft beer might be a marketing name, an overall capture of a concept, but it works, particularly with younger drinkers, and real ale could do with a similar image update – a modernisation of a term which can make it appealing to more people. Come up with an alternative and maybe we’ll use that instead. Maybe we won’t because ‘craft beer’ works. What about Slow Food, Green Living, Detoxing... they are concepts but they are important ones which people have an umbrella understanding of.

And it’s not a division between good and bad tasting beer; not all craft beer is good just like not all real ale is good. The division can’t be made there because it’s too subjective. I wish we could just call it Great (or great) British beer and there be an assumption that it's excellent. In reality we don't say we're going out for a 'craft beer' it's just a beer, but that's not where the usage is important, where it becomes relevant is in making beer sound more interesting, more appealing, more delicious, more inviting. 

Craft beer has a meaning which transcends the beer world and means something to many of its drinkers, whether it’s a lifestyle choice or just a vague understanding that what you are drinking isn’t Budweiser. But, more importantly, it can mean something to those who don’t drink it and that something is likely to be more attractive than real ale. Plus, how do we describe those beers that are now in kegs or the bottled beers which aren’t bottle-conditioned? Labelling them ‘beer’ seems a little unfair.

I don’t think we need a one-line meaning of craft beer for it to be applicable for use – it’s a moving target of an idea. I also think regional brewers can be craft brewers. National brewers can as well. The difference comes with the heart that’s behind the beer and that’s an intangible variable. Maybe my argument is that almost every ale brewery in the UK is therefore a craft brewery and we just need to sharpen the image that beer has by associating it with the craft – just because a brewer can empty a mash tun with the push of a button doesn’t make it less of a craft than the assistant brewer shovelling the hot malt out. This probably makes it a marketing decision but British beer could do with a little rebranding, right?

Craft beer means beer made for a more discerning audience than the mass-market beers that ubiquitously line bars around the world. It’s a suggestion that what you are getting has more investment than a hefty marketing budget; it has a heart and soul, it’s made for people who prefer taste to TV commercials. The majority of real ales in the UK are therefore craft beers. I like the term and it makes sense to me, yet others are so against it and argue that it means nothing every time the word pops up on the page. Maybe it’s parochial British pride in not wanting to adopt an Americanism, but in a beer world where the term is understood by people, especially when we don’t have an alternative term, then let’s use craft beer.

Does craft beer work in the UK or not? Do we have something better which isn’t just ‘beer’?


  1. I hate to admit it. But couldn't have put it better myself!

    The problem that has developed with real ale is that the definition is so rigid. This was fine when the only choice was kegged fizzy lager, nitrotap bitter or lovely real ale. I agree with the latter being better, I really do. The problem is that times have changed, and real ale isnt the only decent beer readily available in the UK anymore. Craft beer is quality beer, good beer, not mass produced crap, and for now I think thats all that needs to be said? The definition in the UK will find it's own feet, as the language comes to meet the ideals that are developing. It's an organic development and the lack defined rules upsets some people!

  2. p.s. I'll do a Brood post tonight if I can think of anything more to add!

  3. Am I the only person out there who thinks this "craft beer" nonsense is just a small clique who consider themselves too trendy to call themselves Real Ale drinkers?

  4. Anon - I don't think you are alone, in fact more people probably don't like the term Craft Beer than do. I think the trouble is that not all good beer is real ale now so it's hard to just call it that.

    I think there is also a nod towards America with these beers whether brewed in London, Brussels, Rome or Prague. There is lots of influence coming that way, even in the 3.9% real ales.

  5. Anything bigger than a shed isn't craft!

  6. I think it's part of a trend Mark, certain bars, breweries and bloggers who are mates with each other.

    The result is that bars who got in for this schtick all tend to stock beer from the same UK breweries (Thornbridge, DarkStar etc) where they might be better off looking at other breweries who don't nesessarily have the right connections but brew amazing beer.

    Hence I'm more inclined to refer to the "cliquey brewers" scene then craft beer.

  7. Someone I know referred to Meantime as a craft brewery yesterday.

    They did it innocently enough, but then I couldn't stop myself jumping on it - how can you use craft in a context of a product sold in a supermarket?

    I found a map on line of the Top 50 Craft Breweries in the US - it includes the likes of Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada and Anchor. I can get all of those in most bars in Leeds, a couple of supermarkets in Leeds - are they really craft breweries?

    Surely, and this is a rather simplistic method of viewing it, but once your production becomes big enough to meet retail demand, and that you do most of your "brewing" through computerised technology, you kind of lose the craft element to your work?

    You made a beer with BrewDog - it looked fairly hands on - but was there any point where you saw a production line, a packing line that was taking thousands of beers out of the factory and off to retail?

    If you are a small brewer, nailed on to the side of a pub and you only have one or two brew days a week, then I guess no one would argue if you called yourself a craft brewer. But if you then expand - then start brewing daily, selling bottles at retail, kegs and casks to other pubs and eventually expand your operation - is it really a labour of love, a full hands on experience?

    A lot of the beers that get happily referred to as craft beers from the states, appear over here on a more regular basis. If they can make enough to meet the demands of their local, national and international community - whilst making their own tv shows... have they really crafted each beer they produce?

    There's a difference between crafting a new beer - and being a craft brewer.

  8. "Am I the only person out there who thinks this "craft beer" nonsense is just a small clique who consider themselves too trendy to call themselves Real Ale drinkers?"


    The problem with "craft beer" is that it can't be clearly defined - in effect it means whatever the user chooses it to mean.

    Is Sharp's a craft brewery? Was it one a month ago?

    Butcombe? Donnington? Hook Norton? Ringwood? Worthington's small batch plant at Burton? Even BrewDog? And if not, why not?

    Possibly the only watertight definition would be "breweries who employ no staff" but that excludes the vast majority of what is usually termed craft beer.

  9. There's only two types of beer in the world: Beers over 1000IBUs and Beers under.

  10. Chris - Meantime are very much part of the cliquey set of Brewers, which makes it much more likely that they will get termed a "craft brewery".

    Trouble is that whenever I've had one of their beers I've found them to be utter drek. In fact I would go as far as to say that Meantime brew the worst stout and the worst wheat beer that I've ever tasted.

    And that leads to another problem with the brewers who get the "craft beer" tag. Quite a bit of it is horribly over-rated. Emperor's new clothes syndrome.

  11. Chris King - This may sound a little backwards, but I think a craft brewery and craft beer are two very different things.

    Craft beer is a term which is coming to mean a certain type of beer, as described by makr above. However I think a craft brewery needs to describe a small independant brewery. So essentially, a large brewery can still produce craft beer. I would say that Meantime produce Craft Beer, I'd say that Wynchwood don't. Where's the line? That's for us to decide. The line sare constantly shifting but i think thats the point?

    I also think that saying it is about a 'clique' of bloggers and breweries who are mates is a backwards way of saying it. I would say Brewdog make craft beer because I think it is, and I think they make fantastic beer. Same goes for Thornbridge and Darkstar. It isn't that I am mates with them, so whatever they produce i'll consider craft. It's that their beers are so good people want to engage with them over other breweries who make beers that aren't as good.

  12. Neil,

    But when does a craft beer become a mass produced line, with full marketing backing - is it the minute it hits retail, or as per curmudgeon's comment about Sharp - once a multi-national buys in?

    Surely a non-craft brewery then like Meantime are making their craft beers in the exact same way as their mass lines? Just on a smaller scale? With different ingredients? By telling people that it has been crafted?

  13. Neil. The problem here is that some breweries get the "craft" label and put in the trendy bars whereas other breweries who are just as good are not given the label and ignored.

    As good as Thornbridge are I think that Raw Brewery are a more exciting brewery in Derbyshire for instance, but their beers don't have the same kudos attached to them and don't get all the cooing from beer bloggers and twitterers.

    At least with real ale you know where you stand regardless of what's trendy.

  14. anon+chris.

    I think you make fair points. The line is blurred. I also think it's wrong for breweries to label something craft because it's becoming popular. it should be about the style of beer, quality of ingredients and the taste.

    But for me personally, and I know it's very subjective, craft is more a name for a type of beer. I think that if 100 people (admittedly who are very into their beer like us) were given a list of 50 beers and asked to say whether they thought of them as "craft beer" or not then the answers would be very similar. I think there IS an understanding as to what craft is, whether we like it or not.

    I wrote about whether Punk IPA was the first true craft in a can in the UK on my blog and it caused just as much argument! So i'm used to disagreement!

  15. Neil,

    I think the thing that has caught my eye in a couple of responses elsewhere is the use of the word 'pride' when referring to craft beer.

    Seems strange that people automatically assume that the head button pusher at Coors is not proud of the work they do - and that this can only be a Craft emotion.

  16. What is wrong with "good" ? It seems a much more useful category to me, in that it actually tells me whether the beer is likely to taste nice.

  17. Really interesting comments so far!

    Anon - I see your point about the clique but don't agree. I think these breweries are at the top because they are the best. Sure there are others as well but if they don't get themselves 'out there' where we can see and drink them then they don't get the praise which they perhaps deserve. It's an accessibility thing and not about connections - look at Kernel who has come from nowhere to where he is now through making good beer and having it available.

    Chris - I disagree with your definition of craft. Breweries need to sell beer to make money regardless of whether they sell it from a shed or in all the Tescos in the UK. If they can fulfil the large order then great but it doesn't affect their 'craft' status. 'Craft' is a mentality thing before it's a size thing which is why Stone, Sierra Nevada, DFH can be craft despite being huge places. I don't think it's a hand crafted thing like making bespoke pottery; the brewer doesn't need to fill each bottle by hand or put labels on each himself to be craft. It's about their target/aim for the beer, about who they want to drink it.

    Curmudgeon - It does mean whatever we want it to mean but I don't mind that. Sharp's is an interesting one. By the US definition it isn't but I think aspects of the brewery still are (maybe Doom Bar stops being a craft beer but the small run stuff is?). I think all the other examples ARE craft. As for the staff... a one man operation can be as much a craft brewery as a 20-man team.

    Barm - And who decides to label it good or bad? Can one person speak on behalf of everyone? It's similar with craft beer as a term but at least that has an overarching meaning, not just a consideration of deliciousness.

  18. Mark,

    The person who gets to decide if a beer is good or not is the person drinking said beer. If a person thinks Budweiser is good beer, then regardless of my opinion, it is good beer to that consumer.

    Something that seems to get lost in all the craft vs mass production lark is that beer is a drink, just a drink. Some drinks I like, some I don't. It is not the cure to every malady on earth, it's a drink. It is not a proponent of world peace, it's a drink. It is not a lifestyle choice, it's a drink. That's all it is, a drink. The stuff goes around it is waffly bollocks at the end of the day.

  19. Mark,

    "It's about their target/aim for the beer, about who they want to drink it."

    So if a person drinks Stella and BrewDog in equal measures, and has a pint of Coors or Guinness from time to time - then that stops BrewDog becoming a craft beer because the wrong person drinks it?

    You, yourself have been castigated for liking desperadoes yet you use a clique descriptor? This all goes back to the notion that Stone slag their drinkers off on their packaging - and I guess has been "replicated" by other breweries as well. The nature of the product isn't determined by the publicity material that comes with it - otherwise we'd all be wearing berets and listening to noodly jazz whilst drinking Stella.

    If as the link on twitter suggest that BrewDog are looking at Shoreditch for a London bar - then they will be selling the wares as much to a body of people who don't know their arse from their elbow but value style more than actual quality - is that really the Craft Mantra?

  20. Al - Yes, but slightly out of context. Beer is subjective so can only be judged as good or bad by the individual which is why an overarching label of 'good beer' doesn't work as a way of describing what we are drinking on whole. And yes it's a drink, just a drink, but it's also so much more than that which is why you blog and I blog and we read other blogs. If it was 'just a drink' then this wouldn't matter one, single bit but because we care then it's interesting to discuss and disagree and think about it differently.

    Chris - BrewDog are a craft brewer because their beers are aimed at people who care about what they are drinking, who are conscious of it. If that person also drinks Guinness or Bud (which I'm sure we all do) then that doesn't automatically stop them being a 'craft beer drinker'. The division doesn't lie there, it lies with the mentality of the brewer and who they want to drink their craft beers.

    Brewdog's mantra is to make great, interesting beers which are full of flavour and different from the mainstream. That's a craft beer mentality. They have been able to take it a little further and become a brand where they get people drinking Brewdog and not just a craft beer.

  21. See - I guess you're talking to the wrong person, as i've had years of working in the dance music industry where there is a fine line - often argued over - between a record being mainstream or underground; when a DJ or producer is true to his art, or when he sells out for money and fame.

    I would argue, and both you and BrewDog would no doubt claim I am wrong, that when you can buy a beer - as part of an offer, at a reduced rate in the likes of Morrisons or Sainsburys - or when every new release appears to wind the media up in to a frenzy - that they are as much part of mainstream drinking "culture" as the brands they mock and despise. Just not as globally popular.

    When you can buy BrewDog in Supermarkets that are looked at down the noses of by a section of the community, or at ease in pubs - their days of being "an underground act" are long since past.

  22. Ah, I see... I think we're coming from different angles. I don't see any brewery as being like an underground product. Maybe the link there is between great homebrewers (who maybe sell on the sly?!) and probrewers?

    I guess the fine line is in who the music act put their record out to - do they want the underground scene to like it or do they want the ones who love a particular type of music to 'get it'. Regardless of where it's sold, it's still marketed at a type of drinker. The thing is, although you can buy Brewdog in the supermarket, how many people know about them and still buy them? In many ways you need to know them to buy them, just like buying that coffee which is twice the price as Nescafe.

    I think there are differences in the industries.

  23. Anonymous, no you're not the only one.

    I cringe every time I hear the term. A stupid phrase, adopted blindly by geek fan boys. Anyone who uses it with a straight face I assume is an idiot.

  24. My wafflings on the subject of craft beer are here:
    Interestingly (or perhaps not) I've used some music analogies too.

  25. Mark, I don't nessessarily think that the Cliquey brewers are the best. Many are very good, some are horribly over-rated. They just happen to be the best connected. Round these parts Thornbridge may be the big boys but if I'm honest I think that Bradfield are the better brewer (and I'm not the only one of that opinion either).

    However, Bradfield are not part of the same clique. Therefore they don't get the appreciation they deserve in the blogosphere or with the people trying to popularise the term "craft beer".

  26. Anon (the one who makes a sensible comment) - I'd love to try these breweries you mention. I don't know of Bradfield or Raw but I'd love to. The beauty of the blogs is that there's people in all corners of the UK (and the world) so often these smaller places get talked about and a buzz begins for them. There's no way of starting that buzz until someone either does it for you or you have the ways to do it yourself - the beauty of social media is that anyone can make noise about their beers. Maybe the clique you talk about are there because they know how to promote themselves online which then perpetuates itself. If Bradfield did the same, and we could buy their beer, then I'm sure they'd get the same attention.

    I understand the clique idea and know the brewers you talk about but also think craft beer is so much more than them. A brewer in his shed making interesting and tasty beer is as much a craft brewer as Thornbridge.

  27. Do you believe there is, if we are going to use annoying terminology, a "jump the shark" point with a craft beer or craft brewer?

    It would be good to understand if you believe that to be the case - therefore it is easier to understand why something befits a label and other things don't.

  28. Mark, you can get Bradfield in the Kelham Island Tavern, Ranmoor Inn, New Barrack Tavern, and the Sheaf View. I'm suprised you didn't drink any on the Sheffield #twissup!

    Raw Brewery are based out Chesterfield way. You can find their beers on in an Off Licence called the Beer Parlour, which is on the same bus route between Sheffield and Chesterfield as a Thornbridge pub called the Coach & Horses which you may have heard of.

    If you are attending the CAMRA AGM in April then that will be as good an opportunity as any to sample this stuff.

  29. not all craft beer is good just like not all real ale is good

    That's a new one on me - I've always seen 'craft' as an overwhelmingly positive label. Can you nominate a bad (or mediocre, or boring) craft beer?

  30. Chris - I'm not sure... I'm not sure where the move from craft to non-craft is either. It's a moving target. I guess when the priorities change towards making as much money as possible is when it is.

    Anon - I will look out for them. I need to get to Sheffield to drink. If I find them then I will blog about them :)

    Phil - Not all beer is good or great, I'm sure we can agree. But then it's also very subjective, so my idea of exciting might be your idea of boring, or vice versa. I think craft should suggest quality but that's not always the case - maybe that's to do with the beer itself, maybe where it's served.

  31. Ah C'mon Mark, surely you can name names as to bad "craft" beer! I'll start it off by saying that I think Brewdog Trashy Blonde is vastly over-rated IMHO.

    Brewdog are a funny bunch, some of their beers are world class, others I find to be rubbish.

  32. It is a pointless term and it can't be properly defined, yet it has some meaning to some.

    I don't like the term, but I see where Mark is coming from. I also see where others are coming from which is why I didn't write a blog piece on it. There is also a certain clique (bloggers and brewers)keen on this as already pointed out.

    Oh and "As in “Holy crap dude, your sweet new ride is awesome!” - In the UK we never talk about a lady like that!

  33. Hope you don't mind if I add my tuppence worth:
    Real ale is a description that is limited to .....well real ale. Like it or not it does conjure up a certain image in most peoples minds that is not particularly flattering. Lots of brewers are producing beers that are filtered/pasteurised and bottled/kegged and therefore a term is required to describe them. Craft beer seems to fit the bill and should maybe be loosely defined as a brewer who puts the product before the brand. As a company grows, often the focus shifts from great products to great branding and some of the original integrity of the product is lost as the temptation (or business sense) to appeal to a broader base becomes too much.
    As for the clique of 'top' craft breweries in the UK such as Thornbridge etc, I agree that this is an issue. However, who is at fault? Surely some responsibility must fall on the brewer(ies) to get their message out there if they want the same sort of PR (some may not want the self-feeding frenzy that comes with beer-bloggers etc). The beer writers/bloggers etc should also look to cast their net a bit wider as, from a personal point of view it, gets a bit boring reading about the same old, same old.
    Finally Brewdog the self-proclaimed saviour of the craft beer scene. They've done some good stuff, they're certainly PR experts but they do themselves no favours slagging off other brewers (especially when they turn round the next minute and do exactly what they were salgging people off for). Don't be fooled by their rhetoric, these guys are out to make money first and foremost. I already detect a number of comprimises to their "uncompromising" approach which is aimed at garnering a larger share of the market.

  34. Reading these posts and other blogs on the subject, their is one clear consensus - and that is there is no consensus. Some people will never use the term and for those who do - well it seems it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

    For me it's best defined as a negative - what craft beer isn't and that is an "industrially" produced version of any particular beer style - best summed up by the Belgian experience - "industrial" Belle Vue Gueuze or something from the likes of Cantillon, Girardin or Drie Fonteinen etc. Well that works for me anyway - others I'm sure will have different views.

    And of course we could argue until the cows come home as to what constitutes "industrial". I don't think it is necessarily the size of the production but the passion that goes into it. Many big volume beers (Bud, Coors, Greene King IPA, Belle Vue Gueuze etc) are all I'm sure examples of technically excellent brewing processes. But you do get the feeling that at the end of the day they are just that - processes but no passion.

  35. Bradfield a better brewery than Thornbridge? So Farmers Bland, sorry Blonde is a better beer than Jaipur? ridiculous...

  36. I'm not sure it needs accepting or rejecting as a term, but the reason we use it is because we feel this definition most accurately describes our brewery's activities:-

    craft beer
    A distinctively flavored beer that is brewed and distributed regionally. Also called craft brew, microbrew.

    Where as this no longer is adequate to encompass everything that we do:-

    real ale,
    Any beer which is allowed to ferment in the cask and which when served is pumped up without using carbon dioxide.

    People should use descriptors that they are comfortable with.

    Can't we use a variety of terms, instead of arguing the case for the validity of each individual term?

  37. Anonymous - in my experience, unless Jaipur has been green hopped or aged for 2 years it ain't as good as Farmer's Blonde.

    And then there's Lord Marples compared to the unfashionable, but hugely enjoyable Farmer's bitter.

  38. Say the term craft beer in the street and not many people will have heard it before, but only the dimmest wouldn’t make some connection in their mind between the term and the idea of brewing with some notion of the craft in mind (opposed to the industrial scale).

    Mark, you're making that up. You THINK that ought to be true, but you have no evidence at all. Don't make supposedly factual statements in support of an argument when you can't back them up.

    Chris King and Anonymous - what is this, "Meantime is in Sainsbury's so it can't be any good"? I've had excellent beers from Meantime, and I've had only passable ones, but I've never had a poor one. What I CAN tell you is that Alastair Hook is one of the most passionate brewers I have ever met.

  39. Im amazed anything is being compared against Bradfield Farmers Blond, it's clearly a personal favourite of some and it's popular regionally but it's a lowest common denominator blonde ale with farmyard notes and in no way is it a world beater or even notable nationally. Spread your net there are so many better beers about than this, and to say Thornbridges output is worse than Bradfields is to my mind completely ridiculous.

  40. "Craft beer" is a marketing term. Full stop.

    Anyone who thinks it has real meaning has bought into the marketing campaign of the American Brewing Association without a thought in his head or is so blissfully unaware of the beer industry that any "news" from our cousins across the pond will have him innocently rhapsodising about "innovation" or "new style".

    Mark, have you never heard or read the story of the emperor with no clothes?

  41. I think the use of the term 'craft beer' is going to increase. But I also think it's essentially a meaningless term as all attempts to define it have been poor.

  42. James - Interesting to hear why you use the term. I guess that ultimately, like beer style, it comes down to what the brewer wants to call their beer. If they like the idea of craft beer then great, if not then they won't use it.

    Martyn - If that's the only issue you have with the piece then I'm happy. It's an opinion blog, therefore everything in it is opinion. If it was a fact which can be referenced then it would have been. Maybe I am wrong in what I say but I don't think I am, but that's my opinion.

    Robert - Firstly, thanks for putting your name and not being anonymous like so many others! Secondly, I like craft beer precisely because it is a marketing term. I like it because I think it can make younger or more conscious consumers interested in good beer. Craft beer is undoubtedly a different thing here to the US, but it's the name (in its US or not-US meaning) which I like.

  43. Meantime Brewery seem to be a brewery which 'real ale geeks' love to hate because they don't fit the mould. Just because a brewery has beer in the supermarket doesn't make it crap. Sierra Nevada's and Schnider's beers are brewing perfection. Consistent hl after hl and brewed by brewers who are the masters of their craft. Unlike the inconsistent dross churned out by hundreds of cask brewers over the UK, 80% of which I wouldnt even bath my dog in!

    Lets not forget that Meantime won two medals in the beer world cup with the same crap you can buy in Sainsburys.

  44. My chief objection to the term 'craft' is that it infers a product with a rafia work base, made by a hippy in a smock. At least, that's how it seems to me.
    I'm not convinced that a precursor to the word beer is strictly neccesary. I use the words pish or shite for the beers i don't enjoy, much as a wine drinker might use 'plonk'. Consequently, I try to avoid 'pish' and drink 'beer'. By beer, I mean Pictish, Millstone, Thornbridge and other reputable brands, and keep an open mind to the unknown.
    Maybe I should have a new category for 'wets the throat well enough but wouldn't cross the road for'- somewhere in the middle? Crapt beer?