Beer Blog

Craft Beer OR just JDW exposing themselves?

JDW flyer

I was somewhat bemused to see this laminated flyer in a local Wetherspoons, the one in the concourse at Leeds station, which is probably my favourite JDW in Leeds. A proper station boozer, with all types of folk calling in, at all times of day for an ale, tea or coffee or just a plate of cheap grub.

I’ve read endless debate about what Craft beer is, or isn’t. I’ve even taken to calling, what might, in the eyes of some, constitute Craft Beer as post modernist beers, especially to differentiate between the original American Craft beer from what followed here in the UK. Let’s be honest the term is one that was crafted by the American brewing industry long before it surfaced on the european side of the Atlantic.

So, what did I think of the ‘Guest Craft Beers’ being showcased by JDW?  Mmmm. Well, they certainly think along different lines to me. Now before I go any further, I don’t think there are any bad beers on here, nor any poor breweries. In fact, I think they are all pretty decent to top class, breweries and excellent bottled beers. All of which might hit the spot at the right time and none of which pass the CAMRA real ale test, something that doesn’t bother me, neither.

Lets start with the ‘Local Craft Showcase’. Fair enough, Roosters make very progressive modern ales, as do Sonnet 43, if perhaps to a lesser extent. Now that cannot be said about Acorn, or Ossett, or Rudgate, who all make excellent, solid, real ales, yet could never be mentioned in the same sentence as Craft Brewers, surely?

If you have a look down the side of the flyer, JDW give us a definition of Craft Beer – Craft brewers are generally small independent breweries who add a twist to traditional recipes to create something authentic, unique and quirkier?

Okay, so how come Mythos, the Hellenic, Carlsberg subsidiary industrial scale Lager producer or Red stripe the Jamaican, industrially brewed (under license) and owned by Diego, Lager fit into that description. And what about Leffe, a brewing tradition since 1420 (their words, not mine!) and Duvel, since 1871? I don’t think they have added any twist to their authentic recipes which are no quirkier than when they originally started, something these Belgian brewers pride themselves on. Similarly Negra Modelo the Mexican brewed dark Lager (Dunkel) has been brewed since 1925 and although it’s one that you don’t often see in bars and pubs, it’s still not Craft Beer JDW.

Daleside say, our draught beers are brewed using traditional methods drawn from a long history of beer making. Again, I draw you too JDW’s definition of craft beer and brewers from exhibit A. If you look at Springhead’s web site they classify themselves as craft brewers. Personally I think they fail to draw the distinction between skilled Artisan and the marketing tactic JDW mis-use. Indeed, they state Roaring Meg is a surprisingly smooth, classic IPA style beer.

I’m none too sure that Craft Beer sums up the infamous Jaipur neither? Again an excellent beer, a post modernist, progressive UK beer from a pioneering brewery, but is it Craft Beer? Maybe we should ask Brewdog? Their products are featured and I reckon they want to be called Craft Brewers, following on from The Flying Dog and similarly named Snake Dog, breweries from the USA which inspired the term and a certain style of hop forward IPA in the UK.

Do I think that JDW have got it wrong? Yes, it worries me is that there are now all sorts of people going round thinking that all these beers are craft beers, when in reality, it’s just a selection of decent ales. A few being able to call themselves craft, several being mass produced Lager beer and the rest being right honest examples of modern brewing.

I’m a big fan of JDW, but not of this type of misleading marketing that can only mislead the average punter rather than promoting good beer and brewing.

Come on JDW, have a word with yourself and straighten your self out!

6 replies »

  1. Sorry, I think you come across here as a touch precious in your definition of craft beer. I really don’t see why a small independent microbrewery shouldn’t qualify as craft even if it doesn’t produce what some might regard as “cutting-edge” beers. And SIBA would agree with me 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to take a counterpoint here. I firmly believe ‘craft’ refers to something following the original USA orientated beers. I understand what you are saying but think the terms Artisanal, Quality, Traditional, Innovative (I could come up with more) better describe a small independent UK microbrewery making good ales which might be solid & traditional and even progressive (rather than out and out W.coast American influenced beers). Does that make sense?


  2. Ummmm…several beers on that list have been recognised by CAMRA with awards long before the British craft beer branding exercise. What’s with the CAMRA bashing anyway? We’re not all boring old farts. Some of us celebrate the fact beer is young and cool again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m celebrating mate, I just like things to be sort of classified right – like a St Emilion is a St Emilion. End of. At the minute craft beer seems to be anything anyone wants it to be. Almost white bread being brown bread – something it isn’t, if you get my drift?


    • I’m not a CAMRA basher really! In fact I’m an active branch member. I also celebrate the fact that there is some real vitality in the beer scene and recognise that CAMRA should be taking a 360′ view of the beer scene and not just a tail gunners viewpoint.


  3. I’m not getting inton “craft”/not craft debate. What I think is telling is that all those beers are bottled. Nearly every Spoons seems to have a craft display cabinet of different beers (have a look at Thrirk’s). I’ve never seen anyone order one, and Spoons have resorted to cheapo prices for takeaways in some branches.

    The draft keg line-up is generally disappointing now, just the UK brewed Backbone and Shipyard,though a handful of branches have a localish keg on. It’s not exactly sweeping the world though is it ?

    All these laminates and cabinets are making them very cluttered as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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