Monday 28 September 2015

News in Brief #31

A lower-than-average tab

Tab System Blamed for Consumer Debt

Figures released today by the National Office of Statistics revealed that three-quarters of the £1.4 trillion owed by UK consumers is held over on pub tills in lieu of payments for drinks.

Tavern habituee Bob Barfly admitted to us yesterday "I'd been in this pub a couple of times and paid up each time. Then on the third occasion I found myself 5p short for a pint. No worries, said the barman, we'll open a tab for you. You can pay for it later."

"That was 6 years ago," confessed Bob "and I've never paid for a drink since. There's new barstaff every time I go in, and they just keep adding to my tab as if they don't care or something. I dread to think what it adds up to."

Stereotypical pub landlord Barry Shortmeasure "It's true. Our ever growing tab amount is a problem. But I ignore it as my own personal tab here is about £10,000 now."

"Never mind. If the Pubco complain, I'll just abscond with the till and takings. That way they'll never find out."

How to blag and self-aggrandise, mainly

Blogger Announces "Be A Blogger" Event

Worried that there isn't anywhere near enough nonsense in the world already, long-time (since 2012) beer Blogger Sam Unselfaware is running his own event at his local Crafty Bar to show everyone how. Topics covered include :

  • "New Blog Post (1/16)" - Bombarding Twitter with links to your latest post, using different usernames and text to make it look different.
  • "You May Well Think That, But..." - Use of passive aggression towards Bloggers who disagree with you, the more minor and inconsequential points the better
  • "A Reasonable Place To Drink" - Damning bars and pubs with faint praise because they didn't treat you with "due deference" when you said you were the local blogger.
  • "But I Declared It!" - Maintaining a spurious air of fierce independence while accepting freebies from breweries and festivals. 

"Be A (Beer!) Blogger" will be held at the Elongating Gibbon, Shoreditch on 9th October. Tickets £19 or Free with a pint bought for Mr. Unselfaware.

Sad, tragic figures with nothing in their lives, yesterday

Regulars Declared Blight by Pub Campaigner

Man-who-wants-to-erase-the-last-60-years Mudgie Mudgington this week decried the influence of pub regulars on the licence trade "People think that pubgoers are a right laugh" he complained "but they're actually a load of sad bastards."

Mudgie went on "They sit there in the corner, drinking pint after pint of weak brown bitter, prattling on with their half-baked political views and memories about how things were better in 1972. Do they realise how boring they are?"

"Their families have deserted them, they have no jobs or lives. All they have to look forward to is dying in front of the TV and being eaten by their cats."

We asked Mudgie how he gained such expert knowledge on the subject "I've sat in the pub every night for the last eighteen years listening to them." he announced triumphantly.

"But I alternate the pubs I go to. So I don't count".

Monday 21 September 2015

You're Moving Out Today

"Pay no attention to the industry behind this graphic"

A question : Why are so-called Craft breweries taken over so easily by major concerns?

Whether it's Goose Island, Boulevard, Meantime or Lagunitas, Crafties both in the UK and USA are "selling-out" (as I believe these events are referred to by the Hipper end of the beer communication movement). But why are these types of beer makers (let's call them Keg Hopfuck brewers) so sought after and easily acquired, as opposed to the mid-range mainly cask brewers (Thornbridge, DarkStar etc.)

One reason is because such things are fashionable. Big beer, though it outsells the Craft even in the biggest markets by a ratio of 4:1, has been declining in both absolute and real terms in these markets for a decade. So what do SABMiller and AB-InBev do to maintain market share? Buy up smaller breweries, of course. All those 0.1%s add up to something eventually.

But the main reason is that Craft Brewers have far more in common with Macrobreweries than the clich├ęd "boring brown bitter" concerns.

Take your average rapidly expanding Keg Hopfuck brewery. In the main, they'll have been started by a well educated and connected person or group. They'll often bullshit their potential buyers by saying "we started brewing for ourselves and it just got big on us man".  But their assault on the market will have been invariably carefully planned. Publicity. Social media. Blogger outreach. The lot.

While they will claim to have started up to make excellent beer and get it to pubs to improve choice, it's actually all about making money. Ironically, it only works if the beer itself is some good, otherwise the plan would be seen through early on (as we're seeing now from chancers like Brewhive etc.).

So, when this Keg Hopfuck brewery gets to a certain size, the macros will come calling. Negotiations will be entered into, and they will go well. Because the Entrepreneurial Crafties and Macro Executives talk the same language. No matter what promises the Keg Hopfuck brewery has made to their fanbase about not " selling out", they will.

The whole signifiers of Craft Brewing, the tattoos, the plaid shirts, the beards, even the "punk" attitudes if you will, are simply marketing devices to appeal to a certain segment of the consumer base. It's no more or less cynical than the creation of your average Boy Band. If they ever meant anything authentic, they don't now

I like "Craft beer", and much prefer it to Boring Brown Bitter, but for me it's the taste I prefer. I don't buy into the Craft Lifestyle thing. I've been around too long to believe in such things. It pains me to say this, but if the Crafty Hipster Brigade were concerned about authentic Artisan produce, they would drink microbrewery cask bitter rather than the products of, say, Beavertown.

Enjoy your beer, guys. Just don't expect it to match your long term expectations.

Thursday 10 September 2015

News in Brief #30

Watty knows what Craft is

BrewDog to Stop Stocking BrewDog Beer

This week, exponentially expanding Crafty bar operator BrewDog PLC has conducted a wide-ranging review of it's beer policy. "It's something we do regularly," pontificated posturing 'anti-businessman' James Watt "just to make certain what we stock meets certain standards of quality and artisan production."

"I looked down the list. Partizan, yeah. Kernel, yeah, Brew By Numbers, yeah. Then I saw we were stocking stuff by a company called BrewDog. Didn't know much about them to be honest. So I looked up their website and I was horrified."

"This so-called Craft Brewery seems to fund itself via deeply odd share issues and bond issues, while endlessly shouting about how rebellious and 'punk' it is. I read somewhere that this 'BrewDog' is valued at £300 million. Some punks!"

"I rang up every bar in our company and told them to tip all this 'BrewDog' beer into the nearest river.  We can't be seen selling such faux-Craft beer."

Local hipster Luke Lumberjack-Shirt told us while putting empties into the local bottle bank "BrewDog? Are they still a brewery"
STONCH Blog soon to be renamed "Ginger Beer"

STONCH Blog Announces New Contributor

Beer blog and perpetual controversy factory STONCH has announced the latest member of it's ever increasing writing team.

"I've been wanting to take a back seat on the blog for ages." rambled Stonch himself from underneath a huge pile of Moretti bottles. "So, while I've been getting more people in to do the writing, I've found I needed someone else to help coordinate their efforts."

Someone Else is former News Of The World editor Rebekah Brooks. "To be honest, when we found out we were all trembling with fear." confided STONCH writer Tinno Mackerel "We thought we'd be exposing Beer Communicators as paedophiles using phone hacking. But it's not happened. Yet."

But fellow STONCH scribe Benjy Broggovich admitted "After sending in a post about Harvey's Best, Rebekah did give me an awful phone call saying it was "Fucking shit and you can fucking stick this real ale shit up your fucking arse, you fucking shitty prick." "

"Though she does seem to be more polite than Stonch ever was."
Not a macrobrewery, yesterday

Lagunitas Boss Sells Company Over Corpse.

The Craft Beer world was rocked to it's Converse sneakers by the news this week that macrobrewer Heineken has purchased a 50% interest in California brewer Lagunitas.

"I know I said that I'd only sell out over my dead body." protested Brewery boss Tony Magee "But I'm not as hypocrite as you know."

Magee managed to buy an actual dead body of a Mexican illegal immigrant to sign the contract with the Dutch fizz factory. "They're ten a penny round here," laughed Magee "and we made sure we did the contracts in the walk in fridge."

Meanwhile, Lagunitas head brewery Summer Fourtwenty expressed his approval at the deal "Heineken, man" he murmered contentedly through half-closed eyes "That mean I can visit Amsterdam for business reasons on expenses."

"I wanna see the windmills and canals, man."

Monday 7 September 2015

The Gold Bunny Problem


A few years back, I was dismantling a display unit at work. It was towards the end of Easter and, naturally enough, every Lindt Gold Bunny had sold off it. I packed up the component cardboard bits and took it off into the back for disposal. However, one of my female colleagues got hold of the giant display bunny from the top and shouted "Hey girls, ever had a rabbit this big before?".

I tell this anecdote because I was reminded of it by Boak & Bailey's post on Friday about the things that are never talked about in beer Blogger circles, one of them being the actual, authentic pub experiences of the working classes.

Now, me, I'm a member of the aforementioned proletariat. I have a relatively low paying job in retail and have never been to University. Somehow, I have acquired the ability to write coherently (which some would say disqualifies me from the working classes), but that's by-the-by.

Reading the majority of the beer blogs, it's quite obvious to me that their writers have had limited, or possibily none whatsoever, contact with ordinary working people. And I don't mean the " my dad's gardener was working class and we get on like a house on fire, actually" kind of contact.  The Bloggerati have no idea what they enjoy or what their sense of humour is. Well, I will tell you - the working class sense of humour finds the above Gold Bunny tale hilarious 

Witness Pumpclip Parade. The majority of the examples given are crude humour and cheap sexism. A middle class person will find a knob gag pumpclip unfunny. A middle class person will consider being in a place with such an item infra dig. A middle class person will even take a picture and  send it to a website where their equally middle class peers will wholeheartedly agree that, yes, this is simply awful.

Meanwhile, the working class person, will laugh for a couple of seconds, order a pint, and not think about it again .

The problem as I see it is that the middle classes are encroaching on a hitherto almost exclusively working class domain. Ie. Beer and pubs.  And they do not like what they see. So they try and usually succeed in making both beer and pubs more to their liking, be it modern interior design, rarified discussion and "tasteful" point of sale displays.  This is called "gentrification" and is reckoned to be a good thing.

But where do the working class people go when this happens? Well, they've been pushed out of what was "their" space. So they either go somewhere else where they feel more comfortable, or they stay at home.

And the well-to-do like this. Out of sight, out of mind. No longer will they be offended and discomfited by crude humour and tacky surroundings.

But I ask the question - where do the working class go once everything they knew is gone? Where?

Wednesday 2 September 2015

News in Brief #29

Craft Beer despite obvious assumptions

Craft Brewer Announces New "Extreme" Beer

Habitual attention seekers and adders-of-weird-ingredient-to-disguise-flaws Random Brick Brewery today unveiled their new beer, which they claim pushes the Concept of Craft to the edge.

Head Brewer Damien Fixedgear proclaimed "Think we've gone past the 'Edge' this tome. We've fallen off this reality and entered a 4D world. Discerning Drinkers, I present our new beer - Maw Ale!"

Fixedgear pulled a pint of the 5% pale ale and explained further "We believe this is the first beer flavoured with actual fish guts. They provide a very clean taste, even though it has the strange effect of making the Ale transparent. But you can be rest assured this doesn't affect the flavour and the highest Craft Brewing standards were maintained in it's making."

Occasional London drinker and opacity detective Hamish McTand complained to us "Och, beer that's clear? How we goan know if it tastes right if we can see through it? This isnae Craft as I know it, boy."
Mudgie's locals, closed one by one

Pub Campaigner 'Denormalised'

Doom-monger and Fifties-preferrer Mudgie Mudgington this week blogged about his current pub situation. "I've been denormalised," he cried "I'm no longer allowed to enjoy the things I used to."

Mumbled Mudgie "Pub policies by both landlords and government have gone against my way of life. First they turned the music up, then they banned smoking. Then they replaced the brown bitter with golden ales. The last straw was when they did up the pubs in a 'contemporary style'. They've decided there's no place for me any more."

Nervously thumbing his copy of 'Niemoller for Dummies' he continued "First they came for the smokers, but I was not a smoker. Then they came for the poor, but I was not poor. Then they came for me because I have the odd pint and engage in anachronistic banter. And there was nobody to stand up for me."

"Probably because they'd all died of old age, but still..."

Preston Pub A Success Despite Banning Adults

The Mildred Lounge, Friargate, a town centre sticky monstrous hellhole today proclaimed record profits which its manager ascribed to it's new age policy.

Andy Twoshotsapound told us "We had been receiving a lot of complaints about overage people in the bar. I mean, who wants to hear a 25 year old talk about 'Work' or 'Meetings', and have them harass staff with demands for them to stop Facebooking on their mobiles and serve drinks?"

"Their endless toilet visits create a problem too. They go so often, and for so long, they block the bogs for their designed purpose - drug taking and quickies in the cubicles."

Ancient specimen, Tom Bewilder (27), begged to differ "Of course, in an ideal world, nobody would want people in their mid-twenties in a circuit bar, but sometimes I have to take my teenage staff somewhere they like and if I'm refused entry they it'll be them who suffer."

"Especially on the following Monday when I know they've had fun and I haven't."