The definition of “craft beer” has been hotly debated, so we put the question to Paul Scott, the creator of Asahi-acquired craft beer, Cricketers Arms.
“It’s about people trying something, being innovative and looking at different flavours,” Scott says.
“You could technically say craft beer is like wine and it’s going to become more like wine as you go and we get different classifications and different levels.”
Last year, Asahi Premium Beverages announced its acquisition of the Cricketers Arms brand and re-launched the boutique craft beer under the helm of its master crewer, Dermot O’Donnell.
Above: master brewer, Dermot O’Donnell (left) and creator Paul Scott (right).
“The craft beer definition is very hard to get because you can do the big company argument, where they go ‘well you’ve been taken over by Asahi, how does it change?’
“It works brilliantly; you’ve got to understand that when Asahi Super Dry came out was extensively a craft beer. It was three years of development and seven thousand people tasted and gave feedback on it, that’s how hard-core they went on it.
Scott says the “big argument” around what makes “craft” beer is still happening in the States, where Anheuser-Busch (AB) have announced they will purchase 10 Barrel Brewing Company.
“Everyone’s up in arms, I mean, 10 barrels look at it as ‘If we want to reach more customers with our philosophy, we can’t do it by ourselves, the choice for Cricketers was, we’re going to raise five million dollars in the market to further develop our brand, or have a conversation with Asahi.”
When it comes to seriously up-scaling production, Scott says “you need the bigger guys to come in and the best thing is, when the bigger guys have billboards up, all it does is advertise craft beer.”
Central to Cricketers Arms and the craft culture is the “spirit of brewing” and engaging in conversations that spark ideas and new flavours, says Scott.
“The main thing that myself and Dermott hold to is the spirit of brewing; the spirit of trying to make something great for a customer….We sit around a table, we taste other beers and we go “we can do this, or this” and then something will jump out and we go ‘let’s try it’.”
Cricketers Arms uses this spirit to differentiate itself in a crowded market, especially with the launch of their new product; the ‘Spearhead’ Pale Ale.
Above: the ‘Spearhead’ Pale Ale.
The new beer is late hopped with Amarillo for a subtle citrus aroma, dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin for a tropical finish and balanced with a pale malt and two specialty malts to deliver a caramel end note.
Following Asahi’s acquisition, Cricketers Arms launched a new logo and established distinct identities for each product.
Today the Cricketers Arms’ portfolio features ‘Keeper’s’ Lager, ‘Journeyman’ Mid and ‘Captain’s’ IPA, which all won bronze medals at the CBIA Craft Beer Awards.
Scott is currently working on a seasonal winter brew that includes a bourbon vanilla from Madagascar which, like all the beers Scott and O’Donnell develop will be “based on the customer.”