Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Beer, class and snobbery

A lot of people have been blogging recently about whether enjoying exotic and rare beers is a form of snobbery. One that really struck my eye was the article from Curmudgeon here. In it he quotes a definition of artisanal from the dictionary:

"Artisanal. Adjective suggestive of handmade goods and old-fashioned craftsmanship. In the food world, a romantic epithet bestowed upon the cheesemaker, breadbaker, bacon-curer, etc., who labors in his or her integrity-steeped native locale, independent of the pressures and toxicities of Big Food, to produce exquisite high-end, SMALL-BATCH edibles available by mail-order."

In my opinion anyone who described anything as artisanal is both a snob and a fool! This notion that things are somehow better than others because they are made by small companies in sheds is absurd. The reason mass produced food and drink is generally of lower quality is because it is designed to be cheap and henceforth the quality of, and amount of care taken over, the ingredients is significatnly lower. It has nothing to do with the fact it is made in a high-tech factory with the latest production methods. I had an argument recently about artisanal bread and how if it were to be made in an industrial factory using exactly the same ingredients that it would clearly be better than if it was made in a shed in Hampshire.

My main problem with the drinking of rare and exotic beers though is that companies seem to be able to add a huge margin on their products simply because they are "hand crafted" and "artisanal" beer. Yes I know you use more and better quality ingredients but I often sometimes recoil at the price of beer in certain "craft beer bars". BrewDog's tagline is that they aim to revolutionise the beer world with new and interesting beers. Well I can tell you that most definitely won't happen by selling £4 pints of punk in an edgy and alternative bar in Camden.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link. Also worth mentioning the description of the Beer Führer here:

    "This curmudgeonly (ahem!) gentlemen will declare he would rather guzzle urine than drink what he considers “bad beer.” And by bad he means any beer that comes in a can, has commercials on television, or has been heard of by more than fifty people. He can only pity the poor fools who sit in bars drinking the swill disgorged by the vast corporate vats, when they could be drinking swill produced in much smaller ones."

    Small is not, of itself, beautiful, and some micro-breweries have produced some utterly crap beers.