It’s already late evening when I arrive at the oval-shaped dirt track in the middle of East London’s Victoria Park that just about passes for a running circuit. The people I’m due to meet – an ultra running club that calls itself UTMBeers – are already whizzing around it with aplomb.
Vinnie Cilurzo should be running a vineyard. His parents Vince and Audrey owned Cilurzo Wineries in southern California (and loved wine so much they named his sister Chenin, after the grape Chenin Blanc). Sonoma County, where he works, is full of world-famous vineyards and winemakers, but Cilurzo doesn’t make wine; he makes beer.
In 1986, Brooklyn Brewery founder Steven Hindy was on the hunt for a designer to create an identity for his fledgling business. After interviewing more than thirty firms however, he grew increasingly frustrated by their lack of original thought; “None of them were telling me anything. Instead, they were trying to sell me with flattery,” he recalls. “My wife said, ‘why not call the best in New York?’”
A smile comes to Alastair Simms’ face as he considers the question of why he wanted to become a cooper: “It’s more satisfying, any idiot can brew beer. If you can make a cup of tea, you can brew beer.” We’re sat in the reception attached to his cooperage; a laugh which I will hear a lot over the next few hours erupts and infects the room.
This article has one aim in mind: to argue for the continued salience of the term 'craft' in the beer/brewing world. Each day, there are new and ever-louder calls for the term to be dropped, due to its technical imprecision or indeed its 'abuse' by anyone and everyone who works in or seeks to enter the brewing world. or many of those who drink 'craft beer', the term has simply become meaningless and redundant, and for many CAMRA members, this was always the case...
The bar stool rocks, maybe it’s broken. But the pub’s busy so it can’t be swapped, and the place by the hand pumps is prime territory for keeping an eye on the selection. The glass is still half full and the room wraps around your shoulders like a warm blanket. The noise of other people’s voices has blurred to a background fuzz and you can’t remember where you were up to in that conversation with Skateboard Pete.