There’s one big story in the UK this week: the takeover of London’s Meantime by international brewing company SAB Miller.
→ Background reading: When Nick Miller, formerly of SAB Miller (but no relation…), joined Meantime as CEO back in 2011 the gossiping began: was this the beginning of a slow takeover? Martyn ‘Zythophile’ Cornell warned against such assumptions (12/07/2011) but the rumours persisted. In 2013, Melissa Cole called it (25/11/2013), and repeated that call again in January when we asked, in the wake of AB-InBev’s takeover of US brewery Elysian, ‘how long can it be before we see the same thing happen in the UK?‘
→ In response to yesterday’s news, Pete Brown wrote a lengthy piece defending Meantime against criticism that it had ‘sold out’:
One of the more moronic memes in all the comments online goes along the lines of “Well, I never drank their beers anyway because they’re bland/they’re keg/they’re lagers [delete as applicable depending on how much of a prick you really are] so this changes nothing.” As if every craft brewer has to be experimenting with too many hops, a saison yeast, black malts and pinot barrels.
→ Meantime’s own Alastair Hook made a statement on the company’s own blog:
I see the term ‘Craft’ disappearing within ten years as the brewing world recalibrates itself and aligns itself with a passion for great beer made well. ‘Craft’ could disappear as it reforms and redefines what is the new world of beer, a world that provides choice to an inspired and responsive consumer.
→ And there was further commentary from Roger Protz (‘The sale of Meantime could mark a seismic shift in British brewing.’), Jeff ‘Stonch’ Bell (‘If it was craft yesterday, it’s craft today.’) and Ed Wray — ‘Anyway, looking at the pictures and thinking of the scale of production ask yourself: is this brewery craft or industrial?‘
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→ In other news, pub company Enterprise Inns has announced a major restructuring in the wake of changes to the landscape following a successful campaign by anti-pubco campaigners, as reported by James Wallin for the Morning Advertiser. In short, the company intends to shift away from traditional tenanted pubs and towards a managed estate.
→ Will those who invest in BrewDog actually make any money? As reported by Drinks Business, All Street, a firm which specialises in assessing crowd-funding schemes, says, no, probably not. (This opinion has more weight than what is ‘reckoned’ by people who have (a) beef with BrewDog and (b) no specialist knowledge or experience.)
→ Bryan Roth has been considering ‘The Personalization of Beer‘ — that is, consumers tinkering with finished beers using gadgets, additives and other methods. Some brewers consider this kind of thing an affront but Roth argues otherwise:
[The] onset of individualized opportunities and new ways to enjoy a beer is a logical step for a maturing consumer base. At one point or other in many product cycles, people want control.
→ All last week, the Beer Nut’s regular tasting notes focused on Poland and the whole series is worth a read, and is also worth filing for later reference: Wotcha Łódź! | Pillar to Post | Baltic Cruise | Meeting Cornelius | Post-industrial Brewing.
→ And, finally, after our post about the Eagle Tavern earlier in the week, this Tweet from the novelist and historian Lee Jackson couldn’t fail to catch our eye:
Eagle Tavern had 'circuitous pathways, corkscrew fashion, down which adventurous public travelled in chairs w considerable velocity' 1820s
— Lee Jackson (@VictorianLondon) May 15, 2015