When we were in the research phase of Brew Britannia during 2013 we thought we observed a nascent trend: the cutting out of middle men.
A few years ago, there was a fairly cosy relationship between brewers, bar owners and distributors serving a nascent ‘craft beer’ (definition 2) market, each taking a slice of the cost of a third of IPA.
But brewers seem often to feel frustrated at the fact that their reputation so often relies on the care with which their product is presented by third parties — assuming, of course, that they can even get any pubs or bars to stock their beer. The building of a tap room or the acquisition of a tied pub is an obvious solution to these problems.
When BrewDog’s Sarah Warman asked the question above in relation to hype, it got us thinking, because the hipster school of thought (insofar as it really exists) is a slippery beast.
The term ‘hipster’ was invented in the 1940s but has really gained popularity in the last decade as it has come to encapsulate a certain attitude to culture and fashion, as expressed in this example of the ‘hipster barista’ internet meme:
We ought to bear in mind every time we catch ourselves complaining that mainstream beers are bland or that, say, Sharp’s Doom Bar is too sickly sweet, that, for some, those beers are probably still too bitter.
We’re quite cured of the desire to ‘convert people’ these days, but if a beer sceptic asked us for a suggestion, we might point them to a gentle-but-quirky, barely-bitter-at-all German or Belgian wheat beer.
Our experience in a smart independent coffee shop in Falmouth this weekend gave us a glimpse into how many people must feel when they enter a craft beer bar.
We like coffee, but (as with whisky, wine, cheese) we don’t know very much, having not chosen to expend any mental energy reading on the subject, or forcing ourselves to concentrate as we consume. We’ve picked up a few nuggets of folk knowledge here and there, and think we can spot a bad cup of coffee in the wild, but that’s about it.