CNBC did a short segment last week on craft beer, which they insisted on calling “boutique beer” — sigh — because the interviewer was Australian. Hey lady, you’re not in Australia anymore, call it by the name we use here! You don’t see American talking heads calling it soccer, instead of football, on English television, do you? Seriously, is it too much to expect that she’d learn the lingo?
But on the plus side, at least they interviewed people who actually know something about beer. First, there was Paul Gatza, president of the Brewers Association (and the man who compiles and interpret the brewing statistics) so it was great to see him on camera. The other person they interviewed was Justin Phillips of the Beer Table, a beer bar in Brooklyn. Despite the usual ignorance leading to perhaps not the best possible questions, it was still better than usual.
Stan Hieronymus says
Jay – Reuters also used that term in the last couple of weeks.
I was trying to find the article (I thought it was online) where Michael Jackson talked about how the boutique/micro terminology settles out way back when He used boutique extensively in his first pocket guide (1984).
Matt Hendry says
I’m a Aussie and we call it Craft beer or Microbrewed beer also .
Boutique beer is what people who have no clue call Craft beer and they include premium beers from the macrobrewers and imports under this banner,
Thanks for that, good to know. She gave the impression that the universal term in Australia was boutique beer. I’m glad to know she’s a nutter.
Huge fan of your writing as you know Jay, but as an Aussie and a beer writer I regularly describe beer as “boutique”. Boutique describes the characteristic of a small, exclusive producer or business. While “craft” beer has a distinct definition in craft beer circles in the States, I can’t see any problems with using a generic adjective as a catch all phrase to describe beer that isn’t generic lager. I’m not sure the reviewer was refering only to the true “craft” breweries, but the thrust of the story would have included good beer from breweries that don’t fall into the Brewers Association’s technical definition, so using “craft” may have been misleading anyway.
As it is, one of the better small, independent and traditional breweries over actually here calls itself the Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe, so I’m not sure that Matt (the other one) can categorically state “boutique” is only used by the ignorant.
Yes, “craft” is a specific and important term in the States and I think Australia should have a similar definition developed to describe a particular niche of the wider brewing scene as the comparatively nascent domestic beer market develops. But in getting worked up and damning a TV talking head using a generic descriptor for beer with flavour seems to me pretty stupid. It was an CNBC article afterall, not All About Beer – but even then it seems not all brewers in the States believe you should get hung up on definitions either, see Fritz Maytag’s comments here – http://www.allaboutbeer.com/columns/fred3.html
Shouldn’t we be celebrating that beer is starting to get mainstream coverage and hope that it leads to people trying better beer and maybe even learning the lingo later? To get all snarly about the use of a word like “boutique” just creates the sort of linguistic divisions that give wine a bad name and act as a barrier to people coming to the party. It makes beer a private club that leaves people feeling stupid and excluded if they refer to it the wrong way…when we should be welcoming them with open arms and saying thanks for talking about it.
Oh, and Australians call “soccer” “soccer” too, not football. So while I would hope a US talking head would call it soccer on our TVs, I couldn’t really care what he called it if it is respectful and the meaning is clear…..