Pretentious and Complicated

Beer on a pedestal.

I like to reward myself by trying different, flavourful beers, but I’m intimidated by most craft beers because they’re too pretentious and complicated.”

Those are the words ascribed to an imag­i­nary beer con­sumer by those respon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing AB-InBev’s Shock Top in Cana­da, as revealed in a leaked doc­u­ment shared by Ben T. John­son yes­ter­day.

John­son is out­raged that the mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy appar­ent­ly relies on fool­ing ill-informed, well-inten­tioned con­sumers into buy­ing what they think is the prod­uct of a small inde­pen­dent brew­ery. Broad­ly speak­ing, we agree, at least on the issue of trans­paren­cy: of course there’s noth­ing wrong with big brew­eries attempt­ing to ‘do’ craft, but mis­lead­ing con­sumers by fail­ing to clear­ly declare own­er­ship of the brand is rot­ten behav­iour.

What real­ly inter­est­ed us, how­ev­er, is the idea that there’s an unex­ploit­ed mid­dle-ground between so-called ‘macro gak’ and full-on, high-falutin Craft Beer, cap­i­tal C, cap­i­tal B.

There’s long been a bal­anc­ing act in beer – or, if you like, a ten­sion. On the one hand, some in the indus­try, along with seri­ous enthu­si­asts, feel aggriev­ed that beer is treat­ed as sec­ond class, sim­plis­tic and unwor­thy. They believe that it deserves the same kind of infra­struc­ture of con­nois­seur­ship as wine – books, mag­a­zine columns, arcane lore, celebri­ties, vin­tages, som­me­liers, a place at the din­ner table, spe­cial­ist tast­ing glass­es and rit­u­als, and so on.

But ele­vate it too far and, sud­den­ly, it’s inac­ces­si­ble and over-com­pli­cat­ed: “If you’re not going to take this seri­ous­ly, please don’t both­er!” (Per­haps this is what we were get­ting at with yesterday’s post.)

The AB-InBev/La­batt doc­u­ment describes Shock Top as a ‘fun, flavour­ful craft brand’, and per­haps that’s a band­wag­on Craft Beer should jump on: fun doesn’t need to mean dumb; and respect­ing beer doesn’t have to mean putting it on a pedestal.

53 thoughts on “Pretentious and Complicated”

  1. When I’m in a Grand Uni­fied The­o­ry sort of mood, it looks a bit like we’re see­ing an increas­ing accep­tance for a “lit­tle from col­umn A, lit­tle from col­umn B” approach to the slight­ly arti­fi­cial “new wave craft vs real ale” thing across the whole set of things that orig­i­nal­ly more-or-less divid­ed the two. So peo­ple are real­iz­ing that there is actu­al­ly a mar­ket of peo­ple who like new and inter­na­tion­al beer styles, but are hap­py to have (for instance) a cou­ple of reg­u­lar, depend­able and sen­si­bly priced US IPAs rather than want­i­ng a new and exper­i­men­tal one every week with the atten­dant price hike. Or – as in this case – for peo­ple who want decent beer with smart, mod­ern brand­ing but aren’t inter­est­ed in extremes of taste or styl­is­tic exper­i­ments.

    Of course, we’ll real­ly know that we’ve got there when some hip­sters in a South Lon­don rail­way arch open a brew­ery that does a nev­erend­ing series of dif­fer­ent takes on tra­di­tion­al British styles, with min­i­mal­ist indus­tri­al-chic labelling and func­tion­al­ist names like “Best Bit­ter 025 – Dou­ble Gold­ings”.

    1. Got there? We were there ages ago – Pic­tish did a whole series of sin­gle-hop bit­ters a cou­ple of years ago, intro­duc­ing unwary pun­ters to a whole new range of terms. It’s only recent­ly that craft brew­ers have adopt­ed the pok­er dice* approach to beer styles, and I don’t think it’s a great devel­op­ment; I’m hop­ing it’ll blow over or col­lapse under its own absur­di­ty. But then, I prob­a­bly said the same thing about craft keg.

      *FX: rat­tling of dice (repeat­ed under each pause)
      OK, so it’s going to be a red
      [PAUSE]
      rye
      [PAUSE]
      bar­rel-aged
      [PAUSE]
      what’s that say? oh, corian­der, nice! so that’s a bar­rel-aged red rye corian­der
      [PAUSE]
      mild! Cool – let’s do it!”

      1. Oh dear, have I? I was think­ing of Black­jack, at least in their cur­rent phase (I remem­ber them start­ing out as rather cau­tious best bitter/premium bitter/golden ale mer­chants).

  2. I’d guess that it’s going to sub­side a lot.

    I quite like the fact that there are a peo­ple con­stant­ly chuck­ing out a new and exper­i­men­tal beer every week – today’s reli­able stan­dard was yesterday’s off-the-wall exper­i­ment, and I don’t think it’s going to col­lapse, but I can see it slim­ming down quite a lot – there are prob­a­bly still peo­ple who are will­ing to pay a bit extra to try some­thing new and dif­fer­ent every week, but there are prob­a­bly going to be increas­ing num­bers who are most­ly hap­py to stick to a small­ish set of reli­ably excel­lent beers from the likes of Moor and Thorn­bridge.

    Re Pic­tish – inter­est­ing, but that seems to be almost the oppo­site of what I’m talk­ing about. By the looks of it, it’s most­ly new world hops, and decid­ed­ly non-hip­ster­ish brand­ing, no? Also, I’m talk­ing in gen­er­al­i­ties a bit. Some­one will be along soon to point out that Oakham have been doing new-wave style beers from a non-new-wave style brew­ery since for­ev­er as well.

  3. I always find it amus­ing to watch the crafterati over here ful­mi­nate and foam at the mouth about large brew­ing com­pa­nies ‘doing craft’ or being ‘crafty’ to nick a Brew­ers Asso­ci­a­tion term.

    Yet at the same time the very same peo­ple, give Pil­sner Urquell so much love it is pos­i­tive­ly vom­it induc­ing, seem­ing­ly not real­is­ing that it is SAB­Miller brand (that’s not a bash at the beer, it’s still love­ly).

    I wish we could just get over incon­se­quen­tials like cor­po­rate struc­ture and focus on the liq­uid in the glass, ‘is it any good?’ is the only ques­tion worth answer­ing.

    1. Hon­esty about cor­po­rate struc­ture is impor­tant, even if the cor­po­rate struc­ture itself isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly.

    2. This is the bit where I always say “if it were made by mis­treat­ed orphans out of chained uni­corn tears?” or some­thing. Of course “is it any good?” isn’t the only ques­tion. That’s sil­ly.

  4. I’m slight­ly sur­prised at Velky Al’s com­ment, sug­gest­ing that delib­er­ate decep­tion is irrel­e­vant. I’m a bit weary of peo­ple who con­tin­u­al­ly bleat, “It’s only the taste that mat­ters”, as though sat­ing one’s taste buds is all that mat­ters.

    Many peo­ple like to know more about what they eat or drink: Where is it made? Is it a small brew­ery or a mas­sive one? What ingre­di­ents have gone into it? Is that cheese from an arti­san mak­er or an enor­mous dairy fac­to­ry? Is that beef or horse? To dis­miss such ques­tions as ‘incon­se­quen­tials’ is bor­der­ing on arro­gance. You may not care, but you should recog­nise that oth­ers do, and their inter­est or con­cerns are not irrel­e­vant.

    It’s why you hear the word ‘prove­nance’ bandied around so much nowa­days.

    1. Agreed.

      And even if I’m not tak­ing a prin­ci­pled stand against multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tions, I still don’t like peo­ple try­ing to deceive me.

      (Oblig­a­tory tan­gent: I think the sim­i­lar­ly decep­tive faux-guest thing that cer­tain British mega-region­als do is more dam­ag­ing, though, since it makes it eas­i­er for them to main­tain a local monop­oly in their tied hous­es while pre­sent­ing the illu­sion of choice, and hence reduces the need for them to keep their stan­dards up in order to sell beer…)

    2. Per­haps it was strong­ly word­ed, but I real­ly don’t think cor­po­rate struc­ture is any­thing worth think­ing about. If Shock Top and Blue Moon are bet­ter exam­ples of the Bel­gian White Ale style than equiv­a­lent beers made by small­er brew­eries then so be it (and from my expe­ri­ence, both are pret­ty good in com­par­i­son). Pro­duc­tion meth­ods are most cer­tain­ly not incon­se­quen­tials, I would nev­er sug­gest as much, and indeed pro­duc­tion meth­ods more than influ­ence the end prod­uct thus influ­enc­ing the ulti­mate ques­tion as to whether a prod­uct is good or not.

      If we want full dis­clo­sure on labels, where does that stop? Should Wid­mer and Red Hook declare the minor­i­ty own­er­ship stakes that Anheuser-Busch has in them? Should Sier­ra Neva­da tell us whether the bot­tle in my hand was brewed in Cal­i­for­nia or North Car­oli­na? Should Sam Adams tell us which con­tract brew­ery pro­duced the Boston Lager I am drink­ing?

      I am not sure, giv­en the inter­min­gling of brew­ing tra­di­tions, ingre­di­ents and ideas, that prove­nance is a real thing in the beer indus­try – unless we talk­ing about select styles root­ed in a place, which would be the def­i­n­i­tion of prove­nance. Sure it is good to know who is brew­ing the beer you drink and how it being made, but that is no guar­an­tor of qual­i­ty.

  5. Faux-craft, faux-guest, faux bricks-and-mor­tar because you are actu­al­ly a con­tract brew­er, hand-made when you’ve got a neat com­put­er­ized sys­tem con­troledl from a lap­top, and … where does it end. We need to stop the obses­sion with larg­er brew­ers try­ing to sell more prod­uct that seems like “ours”, and get on with mak­ing great beer. Great beer will sell well. It’s the only guar­an­tee of a long-term future in the busi­ness. Great beer is the future, not “macro-gak”, so the only ques­tion is, who will make it? Urquell is a great beer, we all know it, and it doesn’t mat­ter who makes it. Cer­tain­ly the trade descrip­tion laws should be observed, no ques­tion, but short of that, let each com­pa­ny do what it well and may the best man win.

    Gary

    1. The decep­tion leaves a bad taste in the mouth regard­less of the end prod­uct, though. If the prod­uct is so good, why can’t peo­ple be hon­est about who pro­duced it an where?

      And I don’t think that argu­ment applies to faux-guests any­way – they active­ly dis­tort the com­pet­i­tive land­scape and make it eas­i­er to be suc­cess­ful as a mediocre brew­ery that owns a lot of pubs and hard­er to be suc­cess­ful as a good brew­ery that doesn’t.

      1. I cer­tain­ly agree that the laws on labelling and pro­duc­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion should be ful­ly observed and also that large brew­ers be frank about the ori­gin of what they make regard­less of legal nice­ty. I am address­ing more the future, which is that many large brew­ers seem resolved to grow their craft-style prod­ucts and the chal­lenges – and oppor­tu­ni­ties – it pos­es for small brew­ers.

        Gary

        Gary

  6. beer blog­gers are lit­er­al­ly the only peo­ple who care about who owns the brew­ery. Every­one just care about what it tastes like.

      1. But that doesn’t mean it is a wise strat­e­gy vs. some­thing that evolved “on the run” so to speak. The point has been made that cre­at­ing a small brew­ery aura can be counter-pro­duc­tive by encour­ag­ing peo­ple who like the prod­uct to move on. Also, I believe soon­er or lat­er most peo­ple who care about the ori­gin will find out, they learn from bar staff, oth­er sources. And those who don’t care, prob­a­bly the great major­i­ty, don’t care any­way. I think py is fun­da­men­tal­ly right.

        Gary

    1. If that is true then why are the biggest sell­ing beers in my local bot­tle shop those that are brewed in the local area?

      Why do com­pa­nies spend so much on mar­ket­ing?

      There are all sorts of rea­sons why peo­ple buy a prod­uct besides the taste

  7. Should Wid­mer and Red Hook declare the minor­i­ty own­er­ship stakes that Anheuser-Busch has in them? Should Sier­ra Neva­da tell us whether the bot­tle in my hand was brewed in Cal­i­for­nia or North Car­oli­na? Should Sam Adams tell us which con­tract brew­ery pro­duced the Boston Lager I am drink­ing?”

    Yes!

    An indi­vid­ual might have a per­son­al com­mit­ment to buy only from inde­pen­dent pro­duc­ers, or only prod­ucts made in Cal­i­for­nia, and, regard­less of whether you or I think that is sen­si­ble, they should be giv­en the infor­ma­tion they need to exer­cise their choice.

    Oth­er­wise, con­sumers are just let­ting them­selves be pushed around.

  8. An indi­vid­ual might have a per­son­al com­mit­ment to buy only from inde­pen­dent pro­duc­ers, or only prod­ucts made in Cal­i­for­nia, and, regard­less of whether you or I think that is sen­si­ble, they should be giv­en the infor­ma­tion they need to exer­cise their choice.”

    Is that not then their respon­si­bil­i­ty to edu­cate them­selves about the prod­ucts they make a per­son­al com­mit­ment to?

    1. Well, they have to at the moment – but why should they? If it doesn’t mat­ter, why *not* state it on the pack­ag­ing?

      1. Because that infor­ma­tion is already out there, in the pub­lic domain, and for infor­ma­tion like which of the big-craft brew­eries’ facil­i­ties pro­duced your beer, com­mon sense should suf­fice.

        1. Okay, to put it anoth­er way – if it doesn’t mat­ter, why are Labatt run­ning a $2.7M adver­tis­ing cam­paign with the stat­ed objec­tive of main­tain­ing the false image that their beer is from a small brew­er?

        2. I wish this were true. I wish it was already out there. I spend a lot of time chas­ing who is mak­ing what on behalf of the Irish beer con­sumer – and I do it because there’s a real con­sumer demand for the infor­ma­tion, not just among geeks and blog­gers. The big sur­prise when I pub­lished my list was that the indus­try were glad to have it too: even insid­ers are frus­trat­ed about the lack of infor­ma­tion on who makes what.

          And that’s just tee­ny-tiny Ire­land. I know my col­leagues in Belgium’s beer con­sumer organ­i­sa­tion have it much, much worse.

          Togeth­er we’re push­ing for a Euro­pean reg­u­la­tion requir­ing the brew­ery address to go on all pack­aged beer. We shouldn’t have to, but that’s what it’s come to.

          1. Why is this not a sim­ple mat­ter? If you can’t tell where it’s from maybe you should not drink it. It’s the same think with food. If you can’t pro­nounce and ingre­di­ent, don’t eat it. With this juris­dic­tion on ques­tion, my Ontario, awash with con­tract “craft” brands made on large machines, each pre­tend­ing to be micros – all phoney craft brew­eries con­sist­ing of a desk, com­put­er and bank account – I have lit­tle sym­pa­thy for accu­sa­tions of obfus­ca­tion when aimed at big beer.

  9. Get­ting back to the OP, one of BD’s gifts to the ‘craft’ image in Britain was edgi­ness, first in the con­fronta­tion­al atti­tude they swiped from Stone and then in the ‘punk’ image. Even at three for a fiv­er in Sainsbury’s, BD bot­tles don’t say “new and dif­fer­ent but fun” – they say “new and dif­fer­ent and too good for them! and when I say them I might just mean you!” I’m not say­ing it’s going to stop them reach­ing a mass mar­ket – it evi­dent­ly hasn’t – but it must make it that bit hard­er to reach any­one who isn’t a snot­ty teenag­er and doesn’t have hap­py mem­o­ries of being one. (Which may be why they’ve changed the image.)

  10. I think peo­ple have com­plained pri­mar­i­ly that beer doesn’t get the respect that wine does. Not that it is in need of “books, mag­a­zine columns, arcane lore, celebri­ties, vin­tages, som­me­liers, a place at the din­ner table, spe­cial­ist tast­ing glass­es and rit­u­als”.

    If you vis­it wine-pro­duc­ing regions, wine there doesn’t have these periph­er­al phe­nom­e­na either. The snob­bery that we, in our cul­tur­al space, assume is intrin­sic to wine cul­ture is not in fact intrin­sic to wine cul­ture.

    1. Tell that to the Gal­lo broth­ers. I’m will­ing to bet the wine-pro­duc­ing regions of the States are awash with wine-snob­bery, as much as more so than the rest of the coun­try.

      But Amer­i­cans are dif­fer­ent. I once got into an online dis­cus­sion of tea with some Amer­i­can friends. They knew vast­ly more about tea than I did (hav­ing been drink­ing it for my entire life). But they weren’t talk­ing about (say) Brooke Bond vs PG Tips, or even Assam vs Cey­lon; they were talk­ing about first-flush Keemun blend­ed with white Oolong, and pre­cise­ly how long to infuse it. They prob­a­bly got on to com­par­ing ther­mome­ters even­tu­al­ly.

      More of every­thing, more atten­tion to every­thing, more dis­crim­i­na­tion, con­nois­seur­ship and snob­bery about every­thing. It’s the Amer­i­can way, appar­ent­ly.

  11. Sor­ry I had a 14 hour work­day yes­ter­day and missed this. You must have been wor­ried.

    1. “…sat­ing one’s taste buds is all that mat­ters…” Time to fish or cut bait as we say in Nova Sco­tia… or, as in Prince Edward Island, shit or wind your watch. A few weeks or months ago we were all abused with the defen­sive crap fest caused by the self-pro­mot­ing faux food activist defend­ing craft beers right to use pro­duc­tion addi­tives just like big beer. Drinkers real­ly need to estab­lish what it is they are defend­ing. Until big craft and lit­tle micro can come up with a sin­gle rea­son to dif­fer­en­ti­ate lighter and mid­dling indus­tri­al brew­ing from large scale brew­ing, it is in fact only abound the taste buds and the pen­nies. Every­thing else is one degree or anoth­er of wish­ful belief.

    2. There is a large mea­sure of Toron­to-esque out­rage in the stunned dis­be­lief that a big brew­ery might spend a measly 2.7 mil­lion (Cana­di­an) bucks on an ad cam­paign for a brand. We have had Shock­top on our shelves for a least three years to my rec­ol­lec­tion. I can think of one rep­utable craft beer brewed in Cana­da – Denison’s – the might slight­ly be affect­ed by the ad cam­paign except (1) I can’t even buy it here at the oth­er end of the same lake and (2) there is actu­al­ly no real chance one less glass of beer gets sold. It’s like the annu­al stunned dis­be­lief from the Big Smoke to my west that they did not win the cham­pi­onship in base­ball, foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and hock­ey no one notic­ing that their teams SUCK. If a craft brew­er actu­al­ly can’t com­pete with a beer as dull as Shock­top, well, it deserves to die. The mar­ket­place will have spo­ken as sure­ly as the league points col­umn does.

    3. The sad­dest thing is that, as much reac­tion on social media has expressed, this beer and Blue Moon are the very ones that teach peo­ple there are flavours beyond macro gak. Call them gate­ways or bridges, they facil­i­tate craft. What is real­ly going on, how­ev­er, is the con­cert­ed effort of big craft to hang on to the illu­sion that there is a dif­fer­ence between Shock­top and Sam Adams lager. Both made on shiny machines, with sim­i­lar addi­tives, mar­ket­ed in sim­i­lar ways and hav­ing a sim­i­lar range of com­plex­i­ty. We will have more and more of this failed argu­ment the more obvi­ous it becomes. I am wait­ing for the next stage when big craft tells us that micro is no longer craft. It has actu­al­ly begun with the recent call to arms to fight for same­ness. God knows there is noth­ing as good as the same over and over. Hasn’t big macro taught us that?

    There.

  12. Alan –it seems to me that you (and Al, and maybe oth­ers) have worked your­self into a wil­ful­ly con­trar­i­an stance I just can’t get my head round.

    We’re not into black-and-white – some big beer is very good; we cer­tai­ly don’t object to big beer doing ‘craft’; and some craft beer peo­ple act like dicks.

    But, on the whole, we’d like every­one to be held to the same stan­dards of trans­paren­cy, and reserve the right to crit­i­cise peo­ple who seek to exploit con­sumers, whether they’re sneaky craft brew­ers, or sneaky multi­na­tion­als.

  13. I have to admit a bit of dis­be­lief that you can only respond with an accu­sa­tion that I and oth­ers are disin­gen­u­ous or that my com­ments relate to your posi­tion when I know you don’t live in Toron­to as the source of this dis­cus­sion does – as I clear­ly stat­ed. You will have to ask your­self more about that if you have fur­ther ques­tions. Not my prob­lem.

    Rather that pur­sue your thoughts about me, how­ev­er, let’s instead ask you this just to test your stat­ed pref­er­ence for trans­paren­cy: how much do you know about all the oth­er prod­ucts you buy? Your food, yours trans­porta­tion expens­es, your DYI home repair tools, the stuff­ing in your pil­lows. I’d bet, like the rest of us, much is man­u­fac­tured in Chi­na, made by face­less mul­ti-lev­el mul­ti-nation­als or at least ambigu­ous or anony­mous. We all live in the real world.

    In this case, in that real world it takes three sec­onds to estab­lish who owns Shock­top. On the oth­er hand, those amongst the offend­ed seem to side with trade asso­ci­a­tions which active­ly hide the thin veneer of con­tract brew­ing, spread weird­ly twisty PR cam­paign one after the oth­er which seek to manip­u­late the dis­course and in fact are led by nation­al brew­eries which were once but only once actu­al small brew­eries. This argu­ment out of these Cana­di­an blog­gers is the worst sort of jin­go­is­tic call to arms for in-trans­paren­cy, The pot call­ing the ket­tle black. It could not be plain­er. If observ­ing and report­ing on that fact is wil­ful con­trar­i­an­ism, je m’accuse! I plead guilty.

    [Now, if one were to file papers against me for hyper­bole that might be a dif­fer­ent mat­ter…]

  14. Most prod­ucts sold here do declare where they’re made, in big let­ters, on the pack­ag­ing. (There are var­i­ous wease­ly workarounds, of course.) Beer seems to be an excep­tion to the rule.

    In gen­er­al, I would like to know as much as pos­si­ble about *all* the prod­ucts I buy, espe­cial­ly the ones that are going into my mouth. British super­mar­kets know that plen­ty of cus­tomers feel this way, espe­cial­ly after the horse-meat busi­ness, which is why bags of pota­toes here now come with the name of the farm print­ed on them. On a web­site FAQ some­where is fine, I sup­pose, but on pack­ag­ing would just save me some effort. I like and buy prod­ucts that don’t make me jump through hoops to find out what I want to know.

    1. how long is that going to last before every­one los­es inter­est again? a year? 2 years?

      Go tell a stel­la drinker that its not actu­al­ly Bel­gian at all, but is con­tract brewed in Britain, then watch in sur­prise and amaze­ment when he doesn’t give a fuck and orders anoth­er.

      1. If we only accept­ed devel­op­ments that are of inter­est to a hypo­thet­i­cal aver­age Stel­la drinker, beer would be in a pret­ty sor­ry state all round.

      2. Also, have you approached AB-InBev with your in-depth mar­ket insight? You could save them a cou­ple of mil­lion by replac­ing their expen­sive adver­tis­ing cam­paign with some­thing more like “it’s pro­duced in a fac­to­ry and owned by a multi­na­tion­al but it’ll still get you tanked so shut up and give us mon­ey.”

        1. they already know.

          it amazes me how many peo­ple mis­un­der­stand the basic premise of adver­tis­ing. you’re not sup­posed to believe it, you’re meant to pay atten­tion just long enough to remem­ber the name, because when in doubt, peo­ple go for some­thing they recog­nise the name of.

    2. Fair enough. We have no EU to deal with. Our false­hoods are our own. But I still have to admit that I do not deeply care. When I drove into Peter­bor­ough, Ontario once and saw a break­fast cere­al fac­to­ry I real­ized I had no idea that’s where it came from. I sus­pect now it’s made in Mex­i­co.

      We have not had food scares of any deeply affect­ing nature yet, on the oth­er hand, have a mar­ket­place which is not deeply embed­ded with con­cerns over super­mar­ket bulk buy on the one hand or organ­ics, GMOs or any oth­er assur­ance of sanc­ti­ty on the oth­er. I noticed a far greater con­cern over such things with my UK fam­i­ly when recent­ly vis­it­ing. [Me, I eat deer pals shot in the woods, too.]

      So, I admit you can get worked up about it to a degree too and I do spend a lot of my mon­ey on good qual­i­ty food and drink – not to men­tion grow­ing it myself. But that’s all a per­son­al deci­sion which I risk man­age. I also had a Sap­poro from Guelph, Ontario the oth­er day. I buy US craft bee with Cana­di­an malt and Euro-hops. I am aware that where some­thing is made or appears to be made does not tell me where it’s con­stituent parts are from.

      How do I know where Shock­top is from? It’s brand­ed for ding­bats, for one thing, so I assume it is real­ly from a PR com­mit­tee room. But so are the beers from Stone, Dog­fish Head and Boston Beer and a raft of oth­er craft brew­ers. It’s all 1950s tinned Dan­ish but­ter, prod­uct. If instead I want real beer, I go full a growler at the local micro.

  15. Dan­ish canned but­ter is appar­ent­ly a thing of the past, a 50’s cul­tur­al arti­fact as Alan not­ed, but Dan­ish bacon (some canned, I under­stand – what is it with Den­mark and cans?) is still a com­mon pur­chase in the U.K. But is it all made in Den­mark?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_Bacon

    (Just try­ing to inject a spir­it of lev­i­ty in an ardent dis­cus­sion, one well-argued by all par­tic­i­pants not least our blog hosts B&B!).

  16. If you lined up 1000 of the aver­age person’s pos­ses­sions and asked them to iden­ti­fy where each of them were pro­duced and who by, how many do you think they would know?

    5? 10?

    why peo­ple think beer would be some kind of mag­i­cal excep­tion, god alone knows.

  17. They do the same thing here in the states with those beers and try to con­vince the unin­formed they are drink­ing craft. The biggest thing is that shock top is a sick­ly tast­ing beer and more like orange juice. I don’t know how they can even call it beer, one of the worst I’ve had.

    1. Shock Top scored very well though in one blind tast­ing I saw where it was the sole macro beer rep­re­sent­ed. More than half the tasters were expe­ri­enced tasters. For prac­ti­cal pur­pos­es I don’t think you can real­ly sep­a­rate it from the broad range of sim­i­lar prod­ucts made in craft brew­ing today.

      Gary

      1. Gary,

        I have found a sim­i­lar result to be true of many blind tast­ings where the beer pro­duced by mega brew­eries such as AB, Mol­son­Coors et al, have more than stood up to the sam­ples from brew­eries iden­ti­fied as ‘craft’.

        Sure, the ‘crafty’ beer, to use the Brew­ers Association’s insult­ing and arro­gant term, is rarely a world beat­er, but often it is a rea­son­able decent, per­fect­ly drink­able beer. Which, at the end of the day is all that counts.

        1. Yes, peo­ple prob­a­bly should try to sep­a­rate the ques­tion of how a beer actu­al­ly tastes from polit­i­cal issues, but that doesn’t equate to taste being ‘all that counts’.

          I might con­clude that Shock Top tastes fine (I haven’t had it) but still choose not to buy it because I like the idea of a more diverse mar­ket with many small­er play­ers; and/or because I object to the way it is mar­ket­ed and pack­aged.

          Does this have to be reduced to black-and-white?

          1. I think it has to be reduced to it being all about the beer.

            Choos­ing not to drink a per­fect­ly good beer based on the cor­po­rate struc­ture, pack­ag­ing, pro­ject­ed image, what­ev­er is when it becomes black and white.

            I can’t stand BrewDog’s brand­ing and image, but they make some decent beers that I am hap­py to drink.

  18. Ooops, pressed but­ton too soon.

    For me, Brew­Dog, AB, Mol­son­Coors, and even my local Three Notch’d are all the same thing. Com­pa­nies that make beer. Sure they are dif­fer­ent sizes, have dif­fer­ent images, but they all make beer, and they all have beers I am hap­py to drink. I hap­pen to drink far more Three Notch’d beer because they make beers that I enjoy drink­ing most. If I didn’t like the beer I wouldn’t drink it, regard­less of who makes it (and trust me there is awful shit ‘craft’ beer around here as well).

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