Category Archives: opinion

Do We Want Beer Architects?

Last week’s article in the Wall Street Journal about conflict between traditional brewers and ‘beer architects’ in Belgium appalled someone we follow on Twitter:

Now, we’re not sure if the world needs beer architects, or if the term is one we’d like to see stick, but it’s an interesting way of framing the discussion.

Until fairly recently, there were no architects — only builders, and, later, master builders. Then came people like Christopher Wren — intelligent to the point of genius, and bred to practice good taste at a pitch most humans can’t detect — who made a living conceiving of buildings or estates; sketching them; modelling them… and then contracting someone else to get their hands dirty in the construction.

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British Beer in the Next Year

We’re planning a longform ‘state of play 2014-15′ supplement to Brew Britannia for the summer but, in the meantime, here are some brief thoughts on what the next year might hold.

1. Larger, better-established family/regional breweries, anxious over their status in relation to ‘craft beer’, will dabble in once-obscure areas of the Jacksonian style framework:

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Hipster School of Thought, No?

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:

Hipsters to change a lightbulb barista meme.

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Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

That was an idle Tweet from the pub (Wetherspoon’s) where we’d just had a pint of real ale billed as ‘rum and raisin’ from a brewery we’d never heard of.

We didn’t expect much but it was actually pretty tasty — a solid, fairly dark best bitter. Based on how we codified our thoughts on expectations back in January, it was merely enjoyable but unexpectedly so, and therefore a pleasant surprise.

As for the mention of hype, we did, unfortunately, have in mind Siren/Magic Rock/Beavertown Rule of Thirds. (We say ‘unfortunately’ because it has become the centre of some fractious debate between brewers and drinkers.) Back in October, it was trailed thus:

The Rule of Thirds takes 1/3 of each of our individual recipes and process’ & promises to bring together the best of each of our flagships and come up with something greater than the sum of the parts. Which is no small boast.

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What Would We Pay?

The above is not an easy question to answer in 140 characters, so we thought we’d think aloud in a blog post.

If it’s in a fairly commonly available style (double IPA, imperial stout, barley wine) and therefore has plenty of competition, we might pay about £4 (drink at home) for the pleasure of ‘ticking’, and just in case it happens to be the Promised Beer.

Thereafter, unless it was better than BrewDog Hardcore IPA (£2.85), Brooklyn Chocolate Stout (£3.82) or Adnams Tally Ho (£1.83) we probably wouldn’t be in a hurry to buy it again at that price.

If it was in a rare example of a particular style, had a cult reputation, or was an attempt to recreate an historic beer, we could be talked up to £5. (We paid £9.73 for a 660ml bottle of an 8.3% clone of Ballantine IPA c.1932 yesterday, so about £4.86 per 330ml.)

There are lots of factors which influence our assessment of value, (July 2012) and the judgement is always made in the moment, but the most important factor is probably this: what else we could get for the same money?