Poll: the Provenance of Beer

This poll is now closed.

On Sun­day, we drank a great pint of Cam­den Hells, but were slight­ly con­cerned that we did­n’t know for sure whether the beer in our glass was brewed in the UK, or in Ger­many.

We want to know whether trans­paren­cy about place of man­u­fac­ture is impor­tant to oth­er peo­ple, hence this small, extreme­ly unsci­en­tif­ic poll.

[yop_poll id=“-2”]

The results of this poll fed into this blog post.

21 thoughts on “Poll: the Provenance of Beer”

  1. Actu­al­ly I would have liked an option between “essen­tial” and “nice to know”, although I went for the lat­ter. More trans­paren­cy about ori­gins and ingre­di­ents is always desir­able.

    If you are say­ing you would have active­ly pre­ferred your Cam­den Hells to be brewed in the UK rather than Ger­many it’s an inter­est­ing rever­sal of the sit­u­a­tion a cou­ple of decades back. Or is it just a case of feel­ing uneasy about the ambi­gu­i­ty?

    I did a blog­post about this a while back enti­tled Does Prove­nance Mat­ter? which grat­i­fy­ing­ly is the first result if you Google “does prove­nance mat­ter in beer?”

  2. There are all sorts of rea­sons that food prove­nance is an impor­tant issue (“health, eco­nom­ic, envi­ron­men­tal, social and eth­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions” – EU Reg­u­la­tion 1169/2011), so a big Yes from me on this.

  3. I think it is nice to know. How­ev­er the Cam­den case is a bit dif­fer­ent. Their web­site is loaded with stuff about brew­ing in Lon­don, bring­ing the brew­ing of Ger­man styles to Lon­don… yada yada yada IN LONDON. Quot­ing con­tent from their own web­site:

    When order­ing beers for the Horse­shoe we had to get the lager and wheat beer from Ger­many and the pale ales from Amer­i­ca. Why wasn’t any­one mak­ing them in Lon­don? Why couldn’t we get great exam­ples of those beers made around the cor­ner from us?

    So we decid­ed to be the one to do it; to make the beers we real­ly want­ed to drink and to do it in Cam­den Town.”

    I can’t find any ref­er­ence on their web­site to any of their beer being brewed in Ger­many. So their web­site sets up a false expec­ta­tion – nigh on an out­right lie.

    I think that a brew­ery ought to be out in the open about where and how their beer is pro­duced. It’s a mat­ter of basic hon­esty.

  4. From the enthu­si­ast point of view, I would say that even more impor­tant in these days of wide­spread con­tract and cuck­oo brew­ing is know­ing in which brew­ery your beer was actu­al­ly pro­duced. I won­der how many Brew­Dog fans would have been impressed to learn that Punk IPA was actu­al­ly being brewed by Thwait­es in Black­burn.

    With very few excep­tions, any “enthu­si­ast” beer will be quite open about coun­try of ori­gin.

    1. The Punk thing makes me won­der about BD fly­ing the flag for prove­nance – say­ing where the beer was brewed was one of the key cri­te­ria for call­ing it ‘craft’, accord­ing to James W. Have they expand­ed capac­i­ty so much that they can be sure they’re nev­er going to farm out pro­duc­tion again?

  5. More impor­tant­ly, I’d like to know whether Cam­den won WBA Best keg beer with beer not brewed by them­selves but by Ger­mans.

  6. Agree with Yvan. Fab­ri­cat­ing a sto­ry to sell your prod­uct is no bet­ter than Fos­ters or Per­oni. At the extreme end is the horse meat scan­dal and super­mar­kets whose only tac­tic to sell prod­ucts is obfus­ca­tion. But then that’s craft I sup­pose, mar­ket­ing first, QC sec­ond.

  7. The more cus­tomer infor­ma­tion on a prod­uct the bet­ter. It’s there for those that want it, no harm to those that don’t.

    All I want to know is abv & price, but you know, if oth­ers want to know ingre­di­ents, lager­ing time, hop vari­eties, prod­uct ori­gin then fair play. If it makes you a more dis­cern­ing drunk, more pow­er to you.

  8. I prob­a­bly care less about this than about brew­eries (nam­ing no names) that pro­duce a num­ber of beers that they brand as if they were from a dif­fer­ent brew­ery (as in, using a dif­fer­ent name and no men­tion of the actu­al brew­er, not just a dif­fer­ent style of design), par­tic­u­lar­ly when they then present them as “guest ales” in their tied hous­es.

    As far as know­ing where exact­ly a beer was brewed goes – includ­ing stuff like the Thwait­es / Punk IPA thing, or Sheps con­tract brew­ing Asahi as well as this Cam­den ker­fuf­fle – I don’t care that much where some­thing was brewed, but I’d ques­tion the motives of brew­ers who go out of their way to hide it.

  9. I’d cer­tain­ly expect a beer with “Cam­den” on the label to be from that part of Lon­don.

  10. that we didn’t for sure’ — know is obvi­ous­ly miss­ing, but is this an infer­ence that Cam­den are con­tract brew­ing in Ger­many? As far as I know, look­ing at the web­site, it’s all be done in north Lon­don — not entire­ly sure about the point you are mak­ing? Why would you think it was being brewed else­where?

    1. Oops – ‘know’ added.

      More detail in tomor­row’s post, but some kegged Hells is brewed in Europe, and the fact that we only know this because peo­ple told us on Twit­ter is, we think, a prob­lem.

  11. Be nice to get a com­ment from Cam­den (jour­nal­ist wakes up) about this — didn’t know any of this, inter­est­ing point about prove­nance, some­thing that always pro­vides an itch, if Sai­son Dupont was brewed in Hol­land would it be the same etc? We had beer writ­ers wars over Pil­sner Urquell in 2005/6 — all got quite feisty.

  12. I main­ly care about it because I often make a choice to buy beers from my local area because I feel that by doing so I am help­ing the local econ­o­my. I con­scious­ly choose to spend more on those beers than I have to.

    I’d be pret­ty pissed off if Mag­ic Rock weren’t actu­al­ly mak­ing their beer in Hud­der­s­field, but get­ting it made for them by Adnams (for exam­ple). Noth­ing against Adnams, I real­ly like them, but I would be being ripped off finan­cial­ly and emo­tion­al­ly (no warm fuzzy feel­ing from ‘buy­ing local’).

  13. Find­ing out that Thwait­es are brew­ing “Punk” IPA is like dis­cov­er­ing that Kei­th Richard played all the gui­tar tracks on Nev­er Mind The Bol­locks.…..

  14. I don’t want to dig too deep into the “Craft Beer” bear pit, but in a recent dis­cus­sion with one of the most sea­soned beer writ­ers, I said that for me craft beer had to have two essen­tial ele­ments: prove­nance and authen­tic­i­ty. Adnams is both, Fullers is both, Titan­ic is both, West­er­ham is both. Greene King is nei­ther: viz Mor­lands, Mor­rells, Hardy & Han­sons, Rid­leys, Rud­dles. The list goes on. On this mea­sure Brew­dog prob­a­bly would be now but would not have been last year. Trashy Blonde from Lon­don? You can argue needs must but you are step­ping into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry. I think Cam­den are in that dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry. Over­step your­self from a demand per­spec­tive and you will find your­self in this quandary. Under those cir­cum­stances, fess up and take the flak. It’ll always be worse if you don’t.

  15. There are two qual­i­fiers with prove­nance. First, where is where? Peo­ple speak of Ontario beer but there is no local with­in a space or pop­u­la­tion that big. There is a bit of the ques­tion affin­i­ty that creeps into the equa­tion. We like some places more than oth­ers. Bel­gian is bet­ter than Ger­man per­haps. Would Cam­den brew in The Nether­lands as com­fort­ably? Sec­ond, place does not define skill. Find­ing the best brew­ery for the job is more impor­tant than it being near or even as labelled. For years mass­es of NY state craft beer was brewed in less than roman­tic Uti­ca. So, prove­nance faces the ques­tion of prej­u­dice. You can make a bet­ter beer at a bet­ter price but face turned up noses? Hon­esty is great as long as it don’t hurt sales.

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