News, Nuggets & Longreads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention over the past week in the world of beer and pubs, from #MeToo to George Washington.

First, via @niccipeet, a startling story from the Czech Republic by Kasia Pilat for the New York Times:

A social media posting by a major Czech brewery that appeared to mock the #MeToo movement has prompted strong reactions, drawing praise, criticism and some soul-searching on sexism in this former communist republic…. The Facebook post by the Bernard Brewery in Humpolec, about an hour’s journey from Prague, features the likeness of a nearly toothless old woman with the hashtag #MeToo superimposed in white. “The world’s gone crazy,” reads the Czech-language text on the post, which is also emblazoned with the brewery’s logo. “Brace yourselves.”

In the UK Bernard beers have fairly generic branding — almost bland — and it’s hard to connect this kind of advertising, and the follow-up comments from the brewery, with the stuff you see on sale at the Sheffield Tap and elsewhere. Another reminder (along with the reaction to this) that other places and cultures can often be in different places to yours on these issues.


Broken wrist X-Ray.

We’ve been missing Kirst Walker’s posts but it turns out there was a good reason: she broke her wrist performing on stage, as she explains in this typically entertaining piece on how booze and painkillers mix, or, rather, how they don’t:

I was worried about some plans I might have to cancel so I asked the surgeon how soon I could go about my normal life after the operation…. He assured me I could still go to London to see Hamilton and looked affronted that I doubted his skills in repairing me. My next trip ‘out’ after the operation was three days later when I went to see Niall Horan in concert. There I stood at the back taking full advantage of my invalid status to get my cousin to run to the bar for me. I had one pint of John Smiths in a plastic cup and later felt like my dreams were running out of my ears. That’s when I reduced the dose of codeine.

Oh, that turn of phrase! Wonderful.

Continue reading “News, Nuggets & Longreads for 5 May 2018: Bernard, Budweiser, Broken Bones”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 29 October 2016: Bud, Trond, Home-Brew Snark

Here’s everything around the beer blogs and beyond that’s grabbed our attention in the last week, from Budweiser to hypothetical travelling salesmen.

Do you remember those happy days when there was no ambiguity and everyone just hated Budweiser the minute they tasted their first microbrewery beer? Well, Budweiser seems keen to bring that back by borrowing the idea for its latest ad campaign from its underdog Czech rival Budweiser Budvar, as reported by Pete Brown:

Come on, Budweiser. You’ve already stolen your name from the town in which Budweiser Budvar is brewed. You’ve copied their advertising idea (albiet in a fine execution) and now even their copy, word for word. You employ some of the best and most expensive advertising agencies in the world (even if you do try to shaft them on costs.) Is this the best those agencies can do?


A man in check shirt holding two bottles.
A reluctant Trond with his beers. SOURCE: Knut Albert Solem.

Knut Albert Solem has a story from researching his book about Norwegian beer which goes in our file on ‘The Quiet Ones’:

Trond makes it perfectly clear that he is in no way ready to present his beers in any book project in the foreseeable future. There is no point in stretching out my visit, he makes no gesture of putting the kettle on. He is in no way comfortable about my visit. But he allows me to take a few photos for web use. And I persuade him to trade a few bottles for a copy of last year’s book.

Continue reading “News, Nuggets & Longreads 29 October 2016: Bud, Trond, Home-Brew Snark”

News, Nuggets & Longreads 13 Feb 2016

From Licensed Victuallers to Budweiser here’s all the beer-related reading that’s caught our attention in the past seven days.

→ For the Morning Advertiser Phil Mellows has written a fantastic piece answering a question that we’ve asked in the past: what on earth happened to the once mighty Licensed Victuallers’ Associations?

“We were the champions of licensees, we fought battles with brewers and we were always on the end of the telephone if members needed help or guidance,” says former Norwich and Norfolk LVA chairman Mike Lorenz. “But five or six years ago, membership started falling away dramatically and events were poorly attended. Today, organisations like the BII (British Institute of Innkeeping) can offer more benefits. LVAs are not needed.”

→ For US magazine All About Beer Heather Vandenengel writes about ‘The Reality of Being a Woman in the Beer Industry’. It’s a good read because the interviewees are not the Usual Suspects — production brewer Irena Bierzynski’s comments are particularly interesting — but wouldn’t it be good to read more articles about women in beer that aren’t pointedly about Women in Beer?

Continue reading “News, Nuggets & Longreads 13 Feb 2016”

Big Beer is Part of a Healthy Culture

A market with only big breweries is pretty miserable, but that doesn’t mean we want a world with only small ones.

Alan McLeod is the global beer blogosphere’s Contrarian in Chief and he likes the Budweiser Superbowl advert that has others up in arms:

Poor widdle cwaft thinks that it is all about the big bad brewer running scared but it’s not. It’s gleeful assertion meeting commercial reality. The upstretched middle finger to some. The assertion of tribe to many others. An umbrella for those who buy the 80% or more of beer that is still light, inexpensive and easy to drain. It’s lovely.

(Stan is right — that’s a great blog post.)

We kind of agree with Alan here: there might be an oblique dig at craft beer and its drinkers but, in its own way, the ad is positive, and it’s certainly honest. Rather than pretend, unconvincingly, to be small and artisanal, Budweiser is being upfront about the awe-inspiring scale of its operation.

There’s almost something romantic about it, really, just as we were moved by the realisation of the town-within-a-town size of the old Bass brewery in Burton-upon-Trent when we visited the museum a couple of years back.

Molson Coors brewery in Burton upon Trent.

(Having said that, it’s hard to summon any sentimental feeling for the multi-national corporations that now own these beloved brands.)

We do reckon that, on the whole, the output of smaller breweries tends to be more interesting but most of our favourite beers — the ones we actually enjoy day to day — are from slightly larger ones, and are far from ‘wacky’.

So, no, we don’t want every beer in the world to be an IPA or an imperial stout, as long as we can get those things when the urge takes us; and we don’t expect every single beer to be made by a small business. But nor do we want every beer in the world to be a variation on pilsner made by a giant company, and we would like a choice of stouts.

It’s not a battle between good and evil which only one side can win — it’s about achieving a balance, or even a tension. At the moment, there’s probably room for the Craft side to tug a tiny bit more of the duvet to its side but, really, things are looking pretty good aren’t they, with something for everyone?

VIDEO: Called It!

We wouldn’t normally share contrived wannabe-viral videos from breweries, especially big ones — someone, somewhere will be counting this, with glee, as ‘engagement’ — but as it’s a rare case of us getting a prediction right (item 5), we felt compelled.

What are they saying here? That the product is actually pretty inoffensive and more culturally significant than people give credit for (probably true) and that, more importantly, most of us bullshitters can’t really tell the difference anyway (maybe somewhat true).

(Via @Ben_T_Johnson.)