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.

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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.

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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?

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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.)