Beer....

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MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Sat Dec 28, 2013 9:36 am

^ not sure about more money than sense, at least in relation to craft beer. Many people who are into craft beer spend significantly more than average per pint but less than average on a night out because they're simply drinking less.

Alcohol Concern constantly complain about craft breweries releasing 18% beers. Their argument is that it facilitates binge drinking, etc but the evidence actually points to the opposite. It seems that the stronger the taste of a given beverage, the less you drink. Probably because it makes you feel sated sooner. This is why brandy tends to be associated with moderate consumption while vodka's associated with drunkenness.

This is basically the great revelation that the industrial brewing interests had in the 70's. The less taste your product has, the more of it people will drink in one session. So you see this generic ideal developing where consumers have the choice of 20 brands which all taste exactly the same - of nothing.

still_ill
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Re: Beer....

Postby still_ill » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:21 pm

MikeMarcus wrote:^ not sure about more money than sense, at least in relation to craft beer...


I was referring to shops in the area, not particularly craft beer. People in Chorlton will gladly pay £3 for a loaf of bread, or £200 for an ornament that some reprobate's modelled out of bicycle spokes. I drink Real Ale (using that as a catch-all term inclusive of craft beers rather than getting all BrewDog and pretending there's a difference between the two) regularly, mainly because it simply tastes a lot nicer, there's a more extensive range and the hangovers aren't as bad, reasons i imagine many would give, but there's no doubting that plenty of ale/craf beer drinkers simply drink it because it's popular at the moment and in vogue. Chorlton's rammed with numpties who'll go out of their way to throw their money at anything they think's trendy at any given time, and Real Ale and 'craft beer' is undeniably very popular at present, to the extent that locally at least i'd wager it outsells lager in any good pub or bar. It's the perfect place to set up, you'll benefit from genuine local enthusiasts, said numpties, not to mention the vegetarians and teabag recyclers for who the primary appeal will be saving money.

MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:50 pm

^ You think it's bad in Chorlton, try London. The main reason I didn't set up a brewery there is because a couple of years ago, the extensive hipster community there got really in to craft beer. A thousand new breweries were set up churning out really bad beer to people who didn't give a rats arse about the taste but were just into it because it was cool. I felt that it would have been dangerous to compete with them on the basis of my beer being good.

With regards to the £3 loaf of bread, theres a good argument that actually we've been habituated to accept food which is too cheap. At first this seems like a ridiculous middle class folly of an argument but bare with me.

People spend about 60% of their income on accommodation and about 15% on food and drink. It should however be the other way round. This of course is the result of right-wing housing policy and the cultural obsession with speculative property ownership but also because industrial food producers are essentially borrowing off the future. The reason why food is so cheap is because we over-farm land, stuff our livestock full of antibiotics, squander natural resources, etc. These factors all compromise our future ability to produce food and as a result it will become increasingly expensive. The difference between what food prices should be in the future and what they will be is being used to discount the products on our supermarket shelves today.

stephennewton
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Re: Beer....

Postby stephennewton » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:01 pm

I began my public relations career in the brewing industry in the early/mid 1990s, with Robinson's (Stockport) then Tetley's (then largest pub co. in the north and brewing in Warrington, Leeds and North Wales) then projects with Bass (then UK's largest brewer) and a couple of smaller operators. The market has changed an awful lot in the last twenty years and the market for good quality beer has grown enormously.

But the number of people prepared to spend £20 to have their beer sold in a bottle with a champagne cork will be few. It would be naive of you to expect your product to command any kind of premium at all. Price has never been a measure of quality in the beer market where smooth keg products, despite their lower production costs and extended shelf lives, can be sold at a higher price than cask ales, which are higher quality by definition. When the customer roles up the bar they have very little to guide them beyond an image on a pump clip. Everyone claims to use the finest ingredients (even Anheuser-Busch who pollute their so-called budweiser with rice). There seem to be many breweries, so being small is no USP.

Manchester remained loyal to cask ales even when lager and keg where at their height largely thanks to having the largest concentration of independent family brewers in the country. Robinson's, Lees, Holts and until recently Hydes all enjoyed very significant shares of the local market. Now you have established microbrewers like Marble and Outstanding to compete with too. The plus side is the local market is educated and receptive. The downside is that being local is no USP.

And everyone claims to be a craftsman. Robinsons, Holts and Lees can point to centuries of tradition and continuity under the ownership of each family. Marble and others are new wave. So being a craft brewer is no USP.

stephennewton
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Re: Beer....

Postby stephennewton » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:12 pm

Richard_H wrote:A word of caution though - I know a craft brewer who got his beers into a couple of Chorlton bars a few years ago. Every time I see him I get a sob story about "People in Chorlton just won't pay for a quality product..."

How were people to know they were missing out on a quality product? Sounds like naivety on the brewer's part.

MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:02 pm

stephennewton wrote:But the number of people prepared to spend £20 to have their beer sold in a bottle with a champagne cork will be few.

It would be naive of you to expect your product to command any kind of premium at all.


I didn't say that I was expecting the product to command a premium price. Just that there are beers that do and people buy them.

stephennewton wrote:How were people to know they were missing out on a quality product? Sounds like naivety on the brewer's part.


Word of mouth plays a very important role in the beer industry. This became globalised firstly due to Michael Jackson (the beer writer not the crazy dude with plasters on his fingers) and then because of websites such as beeradvocate.com and ratebeer.com.

Now you have relatively obscure local beers like Kate the Great, Westvleteren 12 and Pliney the Elder all of whom see global demand outstripping supply by several orders of magnitude, even though they don't put any resources into marketing and advertising.

In the end, exceptional quality gets noticed.

Also, this probably doesn't need to be said but people who are prepared to spend £20 on a bottle of beer don't do so because of the way it's corked.

Also also, I challenge your assertion that beers served in a cask are better by definition than those served in a keg. Even if this argument could have been said to have merit in the past (which is arguable), it certainly doesn't hold any weight anymore. This is why Camra have lost all relevance today. They refuse to move with the times. It's categorically untrue that Duvel, Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn Lager or Brewdog Hardcore IPA is worse than a pint of Greene King IPA or some other insipid p1ss because it's pushed down a hose with carbon dioxide. I say let the style of beer dictate the serving vessel, not a bunch of grumpy old men in Arran jumpers.
Last edited by MikeMarcus on Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

still_ill
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Re: Beer....

Postby still_ill » Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:50 pm

I don't have any time for Brewdog. They seem like a right bunch of self-serving balloons. Don't agree with them on the craft versus real ale debate, think their beers are samey, often pointlessly strong and very much style over substance, and PR-wise they're dreadful. Give me a pint of Marble or Thornbridge over any of that muck any day of the week.

Don't rate Urquell either, some of the local bars sell it and if i'm not on ale it's always my last choice. Locally at least, Oranjeboom, Kaltenberg, Warsteiner, Flensberger and several others tend to be a better pint, and that's not even bearing in mind the ever-changing pumps at Font and the Beagle, the two standout ale bars in the area.

MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:04 pm

Agreed about Brewdog. I think they are odious, sexist, patronising idiots whose constant self promoting stupidity stains the image of British brewing. Most of their beers are undrinkable, unbalanced, overcarbonated and stupidly named. And their bars are ugly and pretentious.

Their PR is heavy handed and unnecessary. I wish most of the time that they would stop shouting about how good they are and learn to brew - that's when I'm not literally cringing at their assumption that they are somehow leading the 'craft beer revolution'.

But... Somehow they accidentally created a truly world class beer and that's Hardcore IPA. It might have a stupid name, stupid label featuring stupid copy and be sold in stupid bars, but it tastes amazing. I personally believe that someone must have helped them create it because I'm surprised they even have the intelligence to make it out of bed in the morning unaided.

I do like draught Urquell on a hot day. It's quite variable though, probably because Saaz hops don't have particularly good keeping qualities. Also their bottled offering tastes like arse (beer should never be put in green glass).

ollie_the_brave
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Re: Beer....

Postby ollie_the_brave » Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:38 am

I think you'd do well with the community brewery idea. Chorlton is the ideal place for such a thing and I can easily imagine several of the local pubs selling a local brew.

I've been a keen ale drinker since my (ahem) early teens and have been pleased to see the surge in micro breweries/smaller breweries of recent years. I completely agree with your sentiments about Brewdog, their beer is shite and they appear to be a set of total wankers.

I'd be interested in your progress and would happily lend a hand when I can (however work and a young family take up most of my time). Keep us posted on here as to your progress.

PS - for the record I have also bought bottled beer at around the £20 mark on several occasions - family celebrations where my old man is involved usually involve a bottle of Deus or two instead of Champagne. In my view it is exactly like buying a bottle of wine and to be enjoyed in a similar fashion.

stephennewton
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Re: Beer....

Postby stephennewton » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:52 am

MikeMarcus wrote:I challenge your assertion that beers served in a cask are better by definition than those served in a keg.

Assuming you'll be brewing British style ales, this certainly holds true as the measure of a good keg beer is how closely it resembles its cask variant. That's not to say that it's impossible to brew a cask beer so terrible that is surpassed by a keg beer, but like-for-like cask is, by definition, better. It's possible you may offer a beer with no cask variant, so keg is all we have to go on, and while this may be exception in its class, it will still be limited by its class.

I'd be very sceptical of anyone who hopes to make it big by word of mouth alone. It's a bit like self-publishing a novel: for every 50 Shades of Grey there are many thousands that struggle to convince even friends and family to buy. And notice that 50 Shades isn't quality writing. Quality has very little to do with success, many people prefer McDonald's to steak. It's also telling that the websites you quote are based in the USA and your examples of obscure local beers are from the USA and Belgium.

Having said all this, I really do hope you succeed and that I'll be able to enjoy your product. But do be realistic. Don't imagine someone will try your beer and be so wowed that they are overcome with an urge to tell all their friends and post reviews online everywhere. Reputation takes a very, very long time to build.

MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:32 pm

I think that the whole point if community supported enterprise is that you put the notion of 'making it big' to one side and concentrate on making liks with those around you instead.

As for keg versus cask, the debate can rage forever but I think that there is one serious disadvantage and one advantage to putting your beer in a cask.

The advantage is that ale in the British style is unique because of three factors (in my opinion), the flavor of esters and diacetyl produced by English yeast strains, the fact that some elements of mouthfeel are stripped by isinglass fining, and the fact that it's partially oxidised due to being served from a cask. Without the cask, you need to find another way to effectively oxidise the beer such as open fermentation as used by breweries such as Samuel Smiths.

The disadvantage of cask is really worrying for a brewer. Whether the resulting pint tastes brilliant or awful is largely down to the cellarcraft of the publican. Did they let the cask settle for long enough? Did they drive in a spile or are they using a cask breather, and if so, was it replaced at the right time? As a craftsperson, I want to be solely responsible for the quality of your pint and I don't want to trust the reputation of my product to a stranger - particularly these days when people mostly don't really care about doing their job well.

Then there's the fact that casks have a certain window when they are at their best. The first day they haven't reached the right level of oxidation. Then for a day or possibly two they are perfect, and then in the subsequent days the quility drops until it's basically vinegar. To compound matters, an infection can happen any time in this process depending on whether the publican sterilised the tap before driving it into the keystone and a million other factors. So because if this, only a percentage of the people drinking from my cask will taste the beer how I intended it to be tasted.

With keg, all I need to care about is that the publican keeps their beer lines clean and I know that the first pint from the keg, the last, and everything in between will taste the same.

So let's set some myths straight. Keg beer doesn't have to be pasteurised, filtered or artificially carbonated. I keg condition all my beers so they're every bit as much a living product as a cask ale. It simply means that it's harder for someone else to screw up my hard work further down the line.

Clib
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Re: Beer....

Postby Clib » Wed Jan 01, 2014 12:39 pm

One question, why is keg beer so much more expensive than cask in places like the Beagle? I struggle with the notion of paying £6 a pint to be honest, having drunk ale for 35 years. It was tough when it broke through the £3 barrier! I want quality but I can't see how the cost of supplying keg beer can be so much greater than cask.

As far as USPs go, I would think that having a non-profit making brewery with a strong community basis is a strong USP. Even though quite a few Micros will not be making any profit as we speak! And Chorlton is a community that already has an understanding of that type of activity, to an extent.

MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:07 pm

I think you'll find that much of the craft quility keg beers are from places other than the UK. Probably because most domestic brewers are bullied by Camra into putting their beer into casks. The extra price probably reflects costs of small scale importation.

The other answer is that stronger beers tend to suit keg rather than cask. The stronger a beer is, the more raw materials are used in its manufacture and the more excise duty needs to be paid. So retail price tends to go up with ABV.

Other than that, there's no actual reason why a kegged beer should be more expensive than a comparable cask beer other than the cost of the CO2 to push it down the lines. That would work out at fractions of a penny per pint.

It's worth mentioning here that although I'm personally pretty anti-cask/anti-Camra, the brewery will be a collective of more people than just me so it's quite possible that other opinions will be expressed in our range of beers. I know at least one of our potential members is a huge fan of real ale. In my experience, business ventures benefit hugely from having a variety of people holding different opinions to each other.

Clib
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Re: Beer....

Postby Clib » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:21 pm

I've been in bars that sell keg craft beers and I'm sure the same beer is being priced significantly higher in keg than cask. English beers. We had the Jaipur example the other day, for example.

MikeMarcus
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Re: Beer....

Postby MikeMarcus » Wed Jan 01, 2014 10:42 pm

You should ask them to justify it.


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