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15-05-2014, 08:31
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Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog - Writing about beer and pubs since 2007 (http://boakandbailey.com)
Black holes in space have yet to be directly observed, and*their*presence can only be*inferred through their interaction with other*matter*and light.Recent events in the world of beer suggest that ‘craft beer’ might operate in the same way.*There’s no agreed definition in the UK, and yet we can all tell when the actions of breweries are being distorted by its mysterious presence.
First, locally, we’ve observed the recent roll-out of a rebranded St Austell ‘Proper Cool’ keg IPA. Does this design and copy remind you of anyone?
Though St Austell don’t use the C-word themselves, here’s how we heard a barman explain this beer to a customer: “You know Proper Job? Well it’s a craft version of that.”
St Austell can claim to have been doing ‘craft’ (US-hopped IPA, beers with spices) since before ‘craft’ was really a thing, so it’s weird to see them aping BrewDog so openly, especially as it’s*a bit ‘Dad in a baseball cap’. (They have literally declared themselves cool. (http://boakandbailey.com/2013/09/you-cant-declare-yourself-to-be-cool/))
Then, further north, this fascinating blog post emerged from Thornbridge’s head brewer, Rob Lovatt, (http://thornbridge.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/left-field-beer-project/) announcing the arrival of a Parma Violet porter, and explaining its place in their new ‘Left Field Beer Project’. It seems to us that his teeth are gritted:

All of my brewing team will tell you that I’m very style-oriented and I take some persuading to even put the slightest twist on a classic beer style.*
When we visited Thornbridge last year, we detected a (good natured and probably healthy) tension between a conservative lobby focused on tradition, and those who wanted to be more playful and experimental.*Parma Violet is,*we think, is driven by the latter, and an attempt to do something a bit more ‘craft’, whatever exactly that means. Others made the same suggestion on Twitter:

@ThornbridgeDom (https://twitter.com/ThornbridgeDom) This is off the scale craft, what's going on down there? #craft (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23craft&src=hash)
— Richard Burhouse (@MagicRockRich) May 14, 2014 (https://twitter.com/MagicRockRich/statuses/466603231603617792)

Disclosure (http://boakandbailey.com/samples-pr/disclosure-stuff-we-got-free/): we have had various dealings with both St Austell and Thornbridge, and are speaking at a Thornbridge pub next week (https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=653443048061952&id=131589056914023), on 21 May. We’re not scientists — sorry if we got black holes wrong in our attempt at a rhetorical flourish.
The Black Hole of Craft Beer (http://boakandbailey.com/2014/05/black-hole-craft-beer/)

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