The Craft Conjecture
- an activity involving skill in making things by hand.
- skill used in deceiving others.
Craft is a term that has been synonymous with small beer producers for decades now, and one which has been connected to the small producers of Cider for some time now too. However, what makes a Craft Cider? What makes a Craft Cider producer? In fact, is it the producer or the product which should be described as Craft?
By definition, a product could only be described as Craft if it’s been made by hand. Therefore the involvement of any machine could then prevent a product from being craft. There are though no rules when it comes to naming a product, or producer, as Craft. It is one of the many terms used in marketing, not just in Cider, which is left open to interpretation and therefore also often abuse.
The term Craft, in a drinks capacity, was first used as a differentiator. It was and still is for many a curious consumer, a way to easily choose a drink that has something else about it. It’s also about buying into the story, with the belief that the care, attention, and passion going into the creation will create a better experience than a mass-produced and heavily marketed beverage.
As with many of these terms, think “Premium”, “Finest”, or “Select”, Craft has been used by some of the world's largest producers to conjure up thoughts of handpicking apples in the orchard. While I don’t question the passion of the Cider makers at any producer, is it right to associate this term to Cider that is anything but handcrafted? A tell-tale sign that a Cider is perhaps not really Craft, is when they start sponsoring a Formula 1 team. I’m not sure we’ll be seeing “Wilkins Farmhouse Scrumpy” on the grid any time soon.
In the end, does any of this matter to the vast majority? As long as the product tastes good, do we care how a product is named or presented? Is it deceitful from large producers to use terminology senonimous with the image those of a smaller scale?
I believe all producers, no matter what size, need to be transparent in their marketing and labelling. This should start with clear ingredient listing, which is as yet unmandated, which would allow a comparison to be made for those who wish.