Yesterday, I finally made it over to Urban Chestnut Brewing Company's new location in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis. It goes without saying that the beer was excellent: UCBC does fantastically original work with traditional styles of beer. The new location is huge: wide open spaces, a bar that stretches forever, and solid wood tables and benches in one large common area. There's also an outdoor beer garden. A great space for great beer.
As my friend and I where enjoying our beer, I noticed the hardware on the tables. Around the corners of each table, below the table top, there is what can best be described as a kind of metal brace. Each of these metal braces were emblazoned with the UCBC logo (see image below).
My friend made the offhand remark that this is the attention to detail you tend to find at craft breweries. And in my experience this is largely true. In their graphic design, swag, tap handles, and interiors, most craft breweries feel just that: well crafted. The aesthetics of craft breweries seem as well-crafted as their beers. Ingredients are obsessively sought out and arranged; combinations are articulated and rearticulated; flavors, alcohol contents, and international bitterness units are listed and considered. It's an obsessiveness present in both the brewers and their customers.
My friend's comment stuck with me because it explains both part of what draws me to craft beer and what I try to stress when I teach composition: craft involves attention to detail. The work of putting something together always hinges on how the components hang together. As a teacher, I am always pleased by some surprising, well-wrought detail: a finely-honed sentence, a delicately-placed design detail, or subtly-infused audio element. Say what you will about transfer when it comes to skills, my wager as a teacher is that the habit of attending to the details of craft, if cultivated consistently and with consequences, might very well persist.
Make better beer: craft better compositions.