Sunday, June 9, 2013

What We Stock – a Rough Guide

An awful lot of time and energy is wasted arguing over a definition of “craft brewing”. The trouble is that the term was first coined for convenience and is inherently qualitative. It was basically coined so that a portion of the market could set themselves apart because they considered themselves different from and better than the majority of swill that was on the market at the time. And it was probably fair and sensible of them at the time. Of course you can’t realistically define a segment of the market as being “good”, so there have been increasingly desperate efforts since then to come up with more rigorous definitions. And now that “faux craft” is increasingly serious business the whole debate is doomed to becoming more and more fractious.

In fact, for a laugh and to make a desperate attempt at getting the final say on this debate, here’s another definition of a craft brewer:

a craft brewer is a brewer who stays out of debates on what a craft brewer is.

But it’s time to change the debate. Rather than flail around trying to retrospectively apply a definition to a term that’s already subject to widespread misuse, it’s time for people who care to state for the record what it is they care about. So here, for the record Hashigo Zake submits a definition of the criteria we use to guide (but not necessarily dictate) our product choices.

  1. Fair Competition: Hashigo Zake stocks beer from breweries who compete on price and quality and do not offer incentives to outlets to stock their products and/or exclude others.
  2. Brewing-centric: Hashigo Zake stocks beer from breweries who, from inception, have one or more individual brewers intimately and intrinsically involved in planning and building the business.
  3. Independence: Hashigo Zake stocks beer from breweries who are not owned by parent companies that are corporate brewers with a market capitalisation greater than $1 billion.
  4. Honesty: Hashigo Zake stocks beer from breweries who do not intentionally mislead consumers about their own history or products. Their product information is compatible with internationally recognised definitions of beer styles. They don’t consistently call a beer one style then enter it into competitions as a quite different style. They don’t mislead consumers about where and by whom their beer is brewed. They don’t trademark terms that they didn’t invent.
  5. Respectful: Hashigo Zake stocks beer from breweries who do not market their product by insulting, denigrating or exploiting a section of society.
  6. Quality: Hashigo Zake stocks beer that we think is good.

If anyone thinks that some aspect of these criteria is misguided - that’s nice, we look forward to seeing you demonstrate your superior grasp of what’s important in your own business venture.

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