Some people argue that, for beer to prosper, it must defeat wine and cider in a battle that’s being played out in British culture. A further twist to that argument is the old classic that your enemies’ enemy is your friend or, to put it another way, if you love beer, you ought to love all beer. Because it’s not wine.
We can’t agree with that.
If people are choosing to drink wine, cider, pear cider, spirits, fizzy pop or buttermilk, well, good for them; but we also believe that to know beer is to love it. In other words, lots of people who don’t think they like beer just haven’t tried a really good one.
People who find beer “too bitter” or bad tasting aren’t going to be won over by nasty beer. They already think it’s nasty and those products just confirm their prejudices. They might, at a push, be lured into drinking the odd bland beer, but that’s not going to convert them anymore than wallpaper turns people on to art.
What might convert people is really amazing, impressive, exciting beer. Colourful beer — perhaps literally so. Eyecatching beer with a story and sexy label. But, most of all, beer that presses the pleasure buttons because it tastes so damn good. Irresistibly so. This is component missing in so many brand extensions and big beer launches.
Consider this: three of our wine-drinking friends have independently said more-or-less the same thing to us in the last year and a half: that after tasting US IPAs on holiday they are interested in trying more beer. Doesn’t this opens up a whole different interpretation of the idea of gateway beers — not “easy drinkers” for beginners but a kind of shock therapy?
And maybe, if people don’t like beer any more, because they think other things taste nicer, then beer’s time as a mass product is over. That’s not the end of the world, though it is a sad thought.