Obeisance to St. Mike
Off and on over the years the question comes up, who first used the term craft brewery, craft beer, craft brewer, etc.
Until recently, the earliest citation I was aware of is from Paul Gatza on Stan Hieronymous’ Appellation Beer site in 2010, in response to his post inquiring who first used the term “craft beer”.
Gatza responded in part:
The earliest publication of the term “Craft Brewing” here at the Brewers Association that I know about is The New Brewer magazine, Vol. 1, No. 5, September-October 1984, pages 3-4 in Vince Cottone’s article “Craft Brewing Comes of Age.” The term is [sic] “craft beer” is not used in the article, but Vince used the phrases “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery” and “craft brewing” in the piece. I have a scan of the article available upon request…
Just the other day I was reading The Pocket Guide to Beer by the late Michael Jackson, published in 1982 by Frederick Muller Limited, London. This is the first appearance of a guide that ran to six or seven editions. They bore varying titles due to differing publication arrangements, but each was an update of the previous one. Each was sold on release in both the U.K. and North America.
On pg. 81, in the entry for “Timothy Taylor, Keighley”, Michael Jackson writes:
TIMOTHY TAYLOR, Keighley. A craft brewery down to the last detail. Very small, producing a wide range of all-malt beers on the edge of the moorland Brontë country. All the draught is cask-conditioned, and the bottled ale is unpasteurized…
In effect, with striking concision he defined keynotes of the beer renaissance for the next 30 years and coined its trademark phrase “craft brewery” (and by extension the derivatives craft beer, craft brewing, etc.).
He also made it clear the phrase applied in Britain to notable examples of the cask tradition, hence not limiting the term geographically, much less to the United States, as is often supposed in British beer circles today.
His next edition, The Simon and Schuster Pocket Guide to Beer, was issued in 1986. In that book, Jackson praises Timothy Taylor no less but in different terms and the word craft is omitted. The 6th edition, entitled Pocket Guide to Beer, was published in 1997. It again confers praise on Timothy Taylor but also omits the word craft. I have seven editions of Jackson’s guide. Only the first one, from 1982, uses the term craft brewery in connection with Timothy Taylor.
There are two other uses of the term “craft” in that first edition, once in connection with top-fermentation at the Belgian brewery Dupont, and once to characterize brewing by his selection of top-ranked breweries. While not on point as such, these reinforce the Timothy Taylor reference and show the term was on Jackson’s mind as a signifier of quality and (often) small-scale brewing.
See here, in Google Books, where you may view all these usages by inserting “craft” in the snippet box.*
Therefore, the earliest use of the term craft brewery – or that I am now aware of – is by Michael Jackson. Jackson is acknowledged by many as the greatest beer writer of all time and certainly was a huge influence on today’s craft brewing. It is entirely apposite that he first used the term.
The reason it was overlooked is probably that the first edition of his pocket guide is relatively rare. To the extent the guide is consulted today, many would examine a later edition, unless a specific historical question posed itself.
I found it by accident, I just wanted to read a compact statement from Jackson on Timothy Taylor’s. I happened to pull the first edition out first.
Note re image: the image above was sourced from the Wikipedia entry for beer writer Michael Jackson, here, and is believed in the public domain. If not in the public domain, the intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner. Image used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.
*Jackson in the same book also uses the terms “craftsman breweries” and “craftsman brewing”, the former in connection with small northern French breweries, the latter viz. the survival in Belgium of old brewing methods. Thus far, no evidence has appeared that Michael Jackson or anyone else used the specific term craft brewery before his 1982 usage in regard to Timothy Taylor or set out product characteristics for the genre, but see also my last Comment added below viz. earlier use by him of related expressions in the context of surviving small breweries in French Flanders and Belgium.