Out of all the fuss over the foolish "craft v. crafty" PR embarrassment for the Brewers Association has come some amazingly level heading thinking about terms and terminology in response. Just look at Twitter this morning. In September 2011, I proposed new words but think we can now nail down a more rigorous scheme that describes the continuum, the range of brewing scale, as follows:
Nano: Home brewers to brew pubs. Small scale. Primarily consumed where brewed. Not part of trade associations.
Micro: Local bottlers. Significant sales at the brewery. Actually small. Like to 100,000 barrels of production tops. Uses vans and, maybe, cube trucks. Gypsy brewers fit in here, too. Counts on t-shirt sales as revenue.
Craft: Distributes and known beyond immediate region. Not small except in the sense of a modest scale industry. Have brand consultants. Markets to phony groups like their "community". Gives away t-shirts.
Crafty: Distributes nationally and internationally. Pretends to be small but owns fleet of 18 wheel trucks. Runs TV ads during sporting events. Both Sam Adams and Blue Moon are in large part crafty. Not a pejorative. Licenses use of logo to others to sell t-shirts. Run trade associations to their benefit.
Macro: Big. As in honking. Major and beneficial economic force in town where breweries are located. Makers of popular beer. Have HR departments. In house legal counsel. Warehouses full of t-shirts.
Why do this? We need to remember that they who control the lexicon win the argument and the BA no more controls the meaning of "beer" or "craft" than the team owners control the meaning of baseball. And it reflects reality. There is no craft v. crafty dichotomy. There are shades of things, overlaps. There are also claims being made that are unsustainable when looked square in the eye. Further, like the directions of the compass like SSW or east-nor-east, a brewery can have multiple aspects. Sierra Nevada might be "crafty with micro tendencies" which is not a bad thing. Brewdog might be "craft with visions of macro", no? Just remember, this scheme does not describe the quality of any given beer as there is no relationship between scale and quality. None. The yeast just don't care. Anyone from a nano to a macro can make crap, krappht or good beer... or even all three at the same time.
There. Glad to have settled this all for you. No need to thank me. Full and immediate adoption throughout the industry will be thanks enough.