Craft, tangibility and affect at work in the microbrewery

2017-09-19T13:53:45Z (GMT) by Thomas Thurnell-Read
In offering particular intrinsic rewards, craftwork has been situated in recent debates as a possible antidote to some of the alienating features of work in modern capitalist societies. The revival of traditional beer in the UK, led by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), has provided the context in which a proliferation of small-scale breweries has emerged. Using insights drawn from qualitative interviews, this article explores the occupational identity of brewers working in such small-scale breweries. Their accounts foreground notions of skill and passion where both are intertwined to produce the brewer identity. Brewer identity is described as being embodied, felt and performed through the working on and with ingredients and equipment at the brewery. It is suggested that the tangibility of both the process involved and the product produced mean that significant intrinsic value is derived from the embodied craft of brewing. Thus, being engaged in the material processes of the brewery and, in the finished beer, being able to see a tangible reflection of one's labour in the final product highlights the ways in which brewers draw meaningful rewards from the affective and embodied facets of skilled craft work.