Cool Kids Love a Corporate Buyout

Quick one before I go out to drink macro keg in nice locals with real people (womp).

I forget which got bought out first; Camden or Meantime, either way, only because either were first to be bought out was the reason it caused waves in the craft community/beer bubble world, other than that, neither brewery really factored much on a scale of THE brewery.

It was the coolness of Beavertown, coupled with a prediction precluding a denial until the actual truth came out that caused the most waves.

Then it all subsided and it was back to the rather uncool Fourpure that it barely raised and eyebrow above an iceman pour.

The craft community must have finally matured and accepted that they are in a capital market and breweries of a certain size are bound to want to go large at some point to “reach the next level.”

Hence when Magic Rock announced today they were off, I doubt many really cared.

Sure you’ll get Brewdog, ignoring they sold out to a hedge fund/venture capital group, proclaiming they are fiercely individual but then again they are massive and global enough not to need a buyout, £22 million excepted.

They’ll of course be some sour brewing sour twat in Manchester that’ll probably be ranting and showing his virtue, maybe he’ll start a petition/survey for all his loyal acolytes.

The question is, who is next? That nicely sized brewery I like so much in Macclesfield?  The teddy bear brewers in Newport?  Those existential hippies in Manchester funded by rich parents?

Who knows and quite frankly at this stage, who cares.

 

Drink well, breathe and thanks for reading.

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The CAMRA Festival Cask-Keg Craft Quandary

Subtitle – A Real Problem (Answer: No, that was just a pun which I felt was too sloppy for the title but I don’t like waste, as trite as it is).

 

The month of January 2019 saw me visit the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival and, as very usual, the Bent & Bongs Beer Bash

I still hold that Bent & Bongs is not really a CAMRA festival.  It started with the local Round Table(s), moved on to Bent & Bongs Charitable Trust and whereas it has always had help in every aspect from local CAMRA branches (Wigan, mainly), it doesn’t really push itself as a CAMRA do.

Now Bent & Bongs has always had 3 stalls; right back from my attending at the much missed Formby Hall, which were casks ales, ciders & perries and foreign beers (sometimes with bottles).  2019 saw the introduction of “Craft Corner” where by 10 beers were presented by Keg (and the were keg, not CAMRA “real ale approved” KeyKeg).

Still, having visited the Manchester version from when it was the “Winter Ales” version and then when it moved to the velodrome and almost killed people with the amount of walking required, the set up has been fairly similar, up until the move to GMex (or Manchester Central if you must).

During this rather move the beer scene has evolved (or in-vovled) and so CAMRA, wishing to not miss a trick developed a way of getting Keg (any keg style) into their festival but for sake of brevity (set-up), this year, with the exception of the brewery bars and Irish Bar, the keg were kept in the “Keg & KeyKeg Bar” – note the distinction even here, they should really add Dolium just for the fuck of it too.

Anyway, it was only on the final day of Bent & Bongs I noted the clear distinction between Cask and Craft.

Not anyone’s fault, the terms aren’t mutually exclusive.  Same with real ale, keg, keykeg, or whatever material the cask is made out of.

Or for that matter is the cask it pump or gravity.

But you can only field the “what’s the difference between cask and craft?” question so many times, trying not to notice the glazed look in the eyes of the asker, not from beer but from your own overly long, if technically correct answer, before you just say…

Craft (beer), in the UK, it’s a marketing term.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Stairway to Heineken

*Not to be performed in guitar shops*

There’s a Logan who’s not sure if all that glitters is gold
Is he buying a stairway to Heineken?
If he does then he knows, all Brewdog bars are all closed
Maybe investment from private equity is what he should go for.
Ooh, ooh, is he buying a stairway to Heineken?

There’s a sign on the wall saying punk, but are you sure?
But craft deals in absolute and not duality of meanings.
In a Fevertree by the brook, there’s a neckbeard who sings,
Some day all beer will be subject to minimum unit pricing.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the bar,
And my autistic spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke in the breeze,
But a 2007 ban makes those stand outside.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it’s bellowed that soon, if we all sing the same tune,
Then the Peter will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long,
And the cellars will echo with Kegstar.

*Enter Drums*

If there’s a bushel in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean, please ring CaskWatch.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
It’s either cask or keg and that’s it.

And it makes me wonder.

Your head is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,
The CAMRA’s calling you to join them,
Boak Bailey, they can you hear the wind blow, but did you know?
Your blogs are really just all hot wind.

*5th best guitar solo ever*

And as we drink on down the road
Did we all just really sell our souls?
There walks a lady we all know
Who fights beer sexism and wants to show
Adverts disguised as journalism turn to gold.
But no one listens very hard
The tune will one day all be lost.
When it’s just beer and that is all
Your hand is dealt, now just call fold.

Is he buying a stairway to Heineken?

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.