Today in “What? Craft Beer is a Business?”

For the 1st of March 2017…

Brewer offers lots of money for Sales Rep

– probably getting paid more than most brewers out there

Distribution Company that once tried to sue craft brewer buys controlling interest in craft brewery

Halewood extends into beer with Hawkshead Brewery deal

 

Punk Brewing Gods issue Cease and Desist to Pub

Heineken Trolls Craft Beer with their own words

– while also buying loads of UK pubs to annoy everyone else in the beer world.

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Brewing Up A Political Storm

Subtitle: You can’t filter out agendas with Isinglass

May you live in interesting times goes the alleged Chinese proverb brought to my attention by the writings of Terry Pratchett and we certainly do in 2016.

I don’t think it remiss to point out that as broad as the spectrum is that drink beer you would probably suggest that the older “CAMRA” set are to the conservative right and the younger “CRAFT” set are to the liberal left and while I’m not one for grouping people along political lines it would seem that many brewers and bloggers in the beer bubble, to their own detriment, probably do so.

The EU referendum vote in the UK on 23rd of June, that ended up with the result being to leave the European Union caused fissions, unsurprisingly many on my twitter time-line were for Remain.

Schisms formed on 8th November with the results of the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump become the elected, prospective 45th president of the USA.

Of course this lead to more fallout from breweries, brewers and bloggers on twitter.

One tweet caught my eye, from an actual brewery account and I’m not going to post it here simply because this is neither about naming and “shaming” (free speech is an absolute, even “hate” speech) nor do I bear any grudge towards the brewery or the brewer (he is a nice chap) or wish to see his business suffer.

Thing was, they (he) called for the assassination of Trump.  Now, whatever your feelings and political leanings are, two things struck me about that:

  1. Calling for the death of someone, in jest requiring a very broad context, is not right (choose other hyperboles)
  2. Using a business account to do so is stupid.

Then again many brewers & business owners in general, have personal accounts from which to let forth their own thoughts and despite all the caveats they may have in their biographies sometimes it can be guilt by association.

What is also striking is the lack of people who called out the brewery on this tweet and also subsequent tweets about boycotting specific countries.

We can probably, fairly postulate that many people didn’t even see the “assassination tweet” but to those that did see it and did not pass comment on it, you really do need to look inside yourselves and question that whatever morals and integrity you bleat about so often, is it that honestly what you actually practice.

 

“We use selective annihilation of mayors and government officials, for example, to destroy the presence of the state and create a vacuum. Then we fill that vacuum.”

 

Thanks for reading.

When Underdogs become Overlords…

The piece below is the opening of what I’m lovingly calling the “Shitting on my Doorstep” trilogy.

 

Following the announcement by CAMRA of their revitalisation project much debate has opened up about what the campaign is for and where it is headed.

I find this situation to be quite comparable to the craft beer movement and, more presciently, those who have or are trying to define what it actually is.

On the face of it both had similar, if perhaps romanticised origins.  Group of people gets together, bemoan how corporatism is spoiling something they like and resolving to do something about it.

Of course their future’s have panned out a bit differently but they nonetheless each wield a fair amount of power, either by lobbying or by being an actual business movement.

In the case of CAMRA, it is now reaping what it sowed when it came out with its rather rigid definitions and core aims.

Seemingly shunned by the “craft” generation; in fact used a marketing tool to push against their old, establishment ways and make way for the new, brave, young beery scene, it is also lambasted by its core base for trying to move too far from its original principles but also by doing this, steps on the toes of others with similar aims. (Blogs & views about this collected here, by Boak & Bailey).

On the other hand you have craft breweries; which some who drink, or worse still worship and sploodge all over themselves about, forget that they are all businesses.  Businesses that are in direct competition with those of a similar vein fighting over the very, very small dregs of an ever decreasing pint.  Businesses whose aim is surely to grow as big and successful as possible?

There are those that buy into breweries in good faith, as a friend would, lending another money to get a venture off the ground.  There are small business loans taken out left, right and centre to fund.  There is crowd-funding and of course there are “share” sales, which can lead to attending AGM’s which always remind me of scenes John Carpenter’s They Live.

Support can also come from merely regularly drinking their beers and raving about them on social media, or merely just drinking their beers.  In essence the better beers and by rationale the better breweries should always succeed.  But in recent times we have seen new breweries sprouting up with big cash outlays and, more importantly a marketing budget.

Conversely and perfectly acceptable in all other forms of business, there have been numerous buy-outs of well know microbreweries by international brands.  Of course the main and valid worry with these kinds of buy-outs is that the product invariably changes and whereas it may be available more widely it is the quality of the product that suffers.

There is also an aspect of this movement that would rather brand a buy-out as a sell-out.  What this highlights is that, duh, some people are jumping on the beer bandwagon to make quick money (though there are far quicker ways to do this) and that those that have the initial investment to succeed are more likely to thrive that those that have to build up more slowly and the worry is that if this is just a trend then the bubble will burst and a lot of microbreweries, no matter how good their beers are, will go to the wall.

People have idealised what craft beer and real ale are.  You can only call your product craft, real, artisan, boutique, etc for so long before the bigger guys with the bigger marketing budgets utilise and exploit it.

You have two movements, both born of grass-roots and local principles, that have spread nationally and even internationally and both of which have seemingly convinced their members that they are something they are not and are about as far removed from the “little guy” that they portray themselves as you can get, though a case for this being more accidental rather than design can be made.

Of course all of this just over complicates what beer actually is and instead turns drinking it into some kind of morality play.  In the end we are all still underdogs and what we should really rally against is anything that is trying to change our enjoyment of a very short life but dictating what you drink, what you eat, what you say, and it is ultimately these moralists, these overlords, that should be opposed.

 

Hmmm, this piece got away from me and I don’t know where…

Thanks for reading.

 

Beer Hates You

It really does hate you.

It hates you for your race.

It hates you for your class.

It hates you for your Instagram account.

It hates you for your food matching twattery.

It hates you for your use of sparklers.

It hates you for your use of gravity.

It hates you for your blog about craft beer.

It hates you for your blog about beer that isn’t craft beer.

It hates you for your attendance at beer festivals.

It hates you for your mantra that beer people are good people.

It hates you for your cynicism about the mantra that beer people are good people.

It hates you for your opinions on craft beer.

It hates you for your opinions on beer that isn’t craft beer.

It hates you for your willingness to spend huge amounts of cash on craft beer.

It hates you for your willingness to buy from supermarkets.

It hates you for your drinking of real ale.

It hates you for your drinking of grapefruit ales.

It hates you for your drinking of key-keg.

It hates you for your drinking of dead keg fizz.

It hates you for your will to try to set up your own brewery.

It hates you for your hatred of family brewers.

It hates you for your CAMRA membership, or lack of it.

It hates you for drinking in industrial-chic and retro-fitted bars.

It hates you for drinking in a pub.

It hates you for serving it too warm.

It hates you for serving it too cold.

It hates you for #Dryanuary

It hates you for #Tryanuary and #TryJanuary

It hates you for drinking it in thirds.

It hates your liver.

It hates your kidneys.

It hates you because there is no safe limit.

It hates you for making it complicated.

Cans – Festival Drinking for the Craft Wanker – Part 2

Part 1 of my post about ‘Craft’ Beer in cans can be found at this link.

So Sonisphere is over (and bloody good it was too) but I still have quite a few more cans to review and this is what this post is for.

In the mean time, here is a First World War dog fight reenactment that Bruce Dickenson took part it…

As discussed in Part 1 Trooper beer (Iron Maiden’s own beer produced by Robinson’s Brewery) was on sale…a £5 a pint (plus an additional 10p for cup return).

Tuborg was £4.80 (again with an additional 10p so you returned your cup, or gave all the people a chance to ferret on the floors and dip in bins for used cups).

I went to Hyde Park to was Black Sabbath, Soundgarden and Faith No More – it was £5 a pint for Fosters…fucking Fosters or £5.50 for Heineken (or you could also spend £5 on a 400ml bottle of Heineken if you were too lazy to queue for a bit longer at the regular bars).

This put into some perspective what anyone is willing to spend on beer given the time and place.

In my time at each festival I bought 1 pint of Heineken and 1 pint of Trooper – smuggling of beer made up for the rest of the alcohol consumed over that weekend.

So, on with this 2nd part of this review of Festival Cans.

The beer was bought from The Liquor Shop.

To recap, there were two rules for this:

Room Temperature – I can’t chill them at a festival, so they will be at ambient (not warm though, again I’m still not a total heathen).

Out of the Can – the first and last mouthfuls were taken from the can, prior to pouring into a glass, because I’m still at home, I want a photo record (#photocraftwanker) and I’m not drinking out of plastic or completely out of the can unless I have no choice.

All cans, as far as I know, were 355ml.

I did pick up a pint (16oz) can, which I had only at the festival (no glass), this will feature later on…

After having the much heralded All Day IPA by Founders Brewing (age verification nonsense) and enjoying it I then got a can of the Centennial IPA. This one is 7.2%. Very enjoyable. It was on my festival list.

What? I told you I still don’t do tastings. It’s either a yarp or a narp. Hopefully I will evolve in time and put together a reasonable tasting review but until that time it will be just a yes or no.

And I’m not going to go on about IBU’s either.

Next was Phoenix Pale Ale by Sly Fox Brewery. 5.1% and not my thing. Narp.

 

Brooklyn Brewery (more prohibition-lite age verification bollocks) were next up with their Brooklyn Lager. Massively lacklustre, no better than really cheap supermarket lager. 5.2% and I will speak no more about this brew.

 

WP_20140629_003Flying Dog Brewery Not having a bad Flying Dog brew continues and this 4.7% Under Dog Atlantic Lager was no exception. Yarp.

 

WP_20140629_005Back to Sly Fox again with the 7% IPA – India Pale Ale. It is a no from me – but they do have a nice website.

 

Ska Brewing make a welcome return, this time with the 5.8% Vernal Minthe Stout. I had actually had this before (and chilled) while watching the very weird but quite enthralling Under The Skin which features quite a few male erections as it does Scarlett Johansson completely naked. It is very, very arty. But this beer tasted that same chilled as it did at ambient – minty. Like consuming melted mint choc chip ice cream. Good if you like that kind of thing, which I do, so it’s a yes from me.

 

So that pint can I took to the festival was the Torpedo Extra IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewery. 7.2% and bloody horrible, too late, I’d take it, waste not – want not.

Don’t worry, all litter was picked up afterwards (and I did have some of the Fosters, cast me out)…

And this is pure unfeted happiness having one of the good ones in the rain before Chas and Dave came onstage. Gertcha!!

While we are at it, I feel that in my 1st review I castigated Sixpoint’s Bengali Tiger quite vociferously. Not that my opinion counts for much, but I will say that chilled it is quite a good drink – just never, EVER drink it at room temperature.

So, there you have it again. 7 canned American beers.

3 very enjoyable. 4 a waste of cash.

And this is what I ended up taking…

The choice was fleshed out with copious amount of Jagermeister.

There are plenty of other cans/tins/tinnies out there to try for which I may well actively search out and write about.

Continue to Rock Hard, Rock Heavy, Rock Lobster.

Sydney – Drinking Beer – Part 1 – The pros and “craft” cons

I don’t quite know how to start this blog off, hence the title.

In fact this sentence I’ve added at the end of the piece as I’ve decided this is a Part 1 as I can’t really focus on much of the actual beer. What I have to say on this part of the subject probably won’t come as news to most people, but it holds a mirror up to the dishonesty of advertising, which you sometimes have to admire for its audacity.

There were many facets of beer drinking I encountered in Sydney which I’ve tried getting right in my head.

I see Australia a country new to the ‘modern’ ways of brewing. And I don’t mean that as slight.

Growing up in England (the North and the Manchester area to be specific) Australian beer was prevalent in my formative years spent drinking in parks before becoming of legal drinking age.

As mine and my mates tastes evolved away from the need to drink ‘super-strength’ beers (Kestrel) & ciders or fortified wines, we could move on to cheap deals at the local offy for bulk buy cans of Fosters or Castlemaine XXXX.

Aussie beers advertised on the sense of fun; Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan fronting the campaign for Fosters and Castlemaine adverts that as far as I’m concerned that have had phrases enter into English parlance (I’m thinking “I can see the pub from here” and “looks like we overdid it with the sherry” – said in an Aussie accent).

But taking UK pubs as a point of reference, Sydney pubs follow all the give-away signs.

There are certain styles of English pub that now scream Pub-Co and inside you’ll find the usual, insipid range of keg lagers, Guinness and smooth flow bitters with sometimes the occasional mild. Usually outside it will say “fine ales” (sometimes even ‘real ales’ which is pushing the CAMRA description off a cliff).

In Sydney, “craft” is the big thing.

They don’t do cask beers over there – I think I counted 2 pubs that had one ‘hand pump’ as they would describe it.

So, following on from the boom in the US and now UK markets, “craft” is the way forward for advertising beer and drawing in the more discerning punter.

I don’t wish this to descend into a “craft” verses “real” ale argument, but there is a movement to register “craft” as a product much like CAMRA has done so with “real”.

It is all marketing, but merely walking around Sydney and knowing the ‘truth’ about the beers you drink can galvanise the argument for a “craft” definition.

Why is that?

Remember those pubs I just mentioned. They are emblazoned with logos for ‘Carlton Draught Lager and Tooheys, much the way UK pubs boast about Carlsberg, Carling and Stella.

You know what to expect inside the pub and either you are too snobby an arse to go in and get a cheap drink or you go in because all your mates are and if you are really honest with yourself you don’t really mind the odd pint of mass-produced nonsense now and again, plus your future “artisan/boutique/craft” beers will taste that much nicer for this experience.

But in Australia the ‘fine ales’ in these pubs are “craft” beers.

Or should I ridiculously write “”craft”” beers?

You walk in and are greeted, more or less in every pub, with at least 6 kegs, the silvery metal dispensers cold and dripping with perspiration, with “craft” names like ‘Kangaroo Piss IPA’ and ‘Wombat Shit Stout’.

Actually they are called; “150 lashes Pale Ale” or “Hop Thief “by the James Squire Brewery or Little Creatures and their “Pale Ale”. Or maybe it is “Minimum Chips” by the Matilda Bay Brewing Co or possibly on the rare occasion its a “Dark Ale” by White Rabbit Brewing.

But these apparent independent “craft” brews are actually wholly owned by Lion or SABMiller.

Look no further that this link.

Now, given the history you could say that some have a claim to be called “craft” brewers, even if they aren’t independent any more.

Of course what it does end up doing is then make every other brewer suspect.

4 Pines Beer in Manly and Bacchus Brewing appear to be legitimate small brewers.

As do Red Tape Brewing Co in their brew pub, along with the Lord Nelson Brew Pub and Hotel.

Coopers are still independent, I think, despite take-over attempts.

I’m unsure about Balmain Brewery and the Stone & Wood Brewing Company.

But should we even care?

In the end it comes down to the actual beers and how they taste.

And I’ll discuss these and the Sydney drinking culture (which is highly comparable to the UK’s) in Part 2.

But as mentioned above, as a bit of sneak preview/spoiler – its 99% keg and the beers are almost always too cold.