Thursday 31 December 2015

Rumbled Lows

Insert jokes  about AB-InBev having Jasper over a barrel here

I suppose everyone has done, or will be doing, their Review of the Year. I'm sure you'd all be fascinated about what beer and breweries I like, how much Evil Keg I've drunk, and how many Bloggers and Tweeters I've offended this year. But I won't be doing any of that.

Instead, I'll be concentrating on what I think the main trend of 2016 will be - The Final Rumbling of Craft Beer.

What with Camden and Meantime being bought up by big beer this year, and Meantime being flogged off again in a few months, it could be said that we're entering the next phase of the beer market. Now at around 1500 breweries in the UK some consolidation will undoubtedly take place, be it acquisitions and mergers, or simply winding-ups when the people behind them find a brewery unable to pay its way.

And this is where Craft will be Rumbled. Being small businesses, Craft breweries cannot use the marketing techniques of AB-InBev or Heineken. Instead, they try to be your friend. They reply to your tweets and FBs personally, the Head Brewer talks to you at Meet The Brewer events, and Bloggers may get 'with compliments' bottles delivered to their home.

Let's be clear about this. It's unlikely breweries are doing this because they love you and think you're a great person. No, this is what they do to get their company name 'out there'. The actual quality of the beer is almost immaterial. Stuff will sell if the right people are seen drinking it, basically.

And with the selling off/big business 'investment' in Craft breweries, all this will now be exposed. Yes, they did just want your money, man. You will see plenty of tear-stained blog posts like this one from Matt Curtis crying about their favourite brewery being sold off and no longer being part of The Community.  Reading it, I thought "Well, what did you think it was all about, mate?"

Remember : A business is not your friend. It may not be as rapacious as a massive corporation, but in the end it exists to make money.  A brewery being nice to you is, in the end, just a different way of getting you to part with your money.

It'll be a harsh day when certain beer types realise this. But, in my opinion, not before time.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

News in Brief #35

Yes, it's the PUBS that are to blame

Pub Staff Take Revenge for Mad Friday

This Monday, bar workers across the country used their last day off before Christmas to give everyone else the kind of grief they experienced from once-a-year pubgoers last week.

"I looked up this big stationery supplier on Google," chortled Alistair Smith of the Red Lion, Dewsbury "and made then talk me through every line of envelopes they stocked. Then after that, I asked for a size I knew they didn't do. When the poor sap at the end of the line told me this, I just hung up. Hilarious times."

Meanwhile, Katie Thompson from the Kings Arms, Devizes recounted "Me and the rest of the girls got slaughtered on Sambuca and went to the local supermarket for more. When we were refused the sale, we looked all hurt and asked the Checkout Manager where her 'Christmas Spirit' was. How we laughed!"

Blogger and defender of dubious causes Curt Mattis tweeted "These people keep everything going for the rest of the year, man. They have the right to do it. #awesome"

Probably not coming to a macro outlet near you soon

Craft Brewery Not Being Taken Over

Small town Industrial Unit-type Brewery Flower Garage this week denied they were considering being taken over by a major Brewing conglomerate. "I don't know," said head Brewer and owner Sam Happyenough "It doesn't seem to be really me somehow."

"I mean, I'm perfectly content making my four-beer range with my staff of two. I make a perfectly acceptable living doing what I do." rambled the despicably complacent brewer. "Do I really need a massive new brewery and a major supermarket presence to be fulfilled? I doubt it "

Happyenough continued in the foaming socialist manner of Jeremy Corbyn himself "If my brewery became part of a big company, what would happen to it? No doubt it would be OK for a while, but eventually business realities would bite and it would end up being economised on for the bottom line." We cut the interview off there, lest capitalist orthodoxy was traduced any more.

Right-wing realist and serial businessman Stonch reassured us "Howay man! Not in it for money? Money's lush, man. Divvent gan there with me."

Everyone loves them. Or else.

Xmas Beer Loved By Everyone

Beer drinkers everywhere this week have been cracking open those special Christmas ales they've spent the month buying and otherwise ignoring.

Domestic Ale consumer Bob Homeboozer cracked open his bottle of 10.5% Lehybison's Winter Ale and burbled "Eee, this is grand. I really love the dark treacly taste. And it's almost as thick, too. Takes a bit of swallowing, but I'm sure I won't feel nauseated after half of it."

Crafty hipster Luke Lumberjack-Shirt meanwhile was working his way through a case of cans of Random Brick Spiced Chocolate IPA. "It's awesome, man" bibbled Luke "and doesn't taste like they just bunged in the contents of the spice rack and a bar of Lindt 99%"

In the pubs, the local's regulars were equally enthusiastic. "This Christmas Ale is fantastic!" shouted functional alcoholic Bob Barfly "and certainly doesn't taste like the brewer has just put more caramel in the bitter to make it darker."

"I mean, look at the pumpclip. It has a reindeer and a Santa on it. What could be more true to the meaning of Christmas than that?"

Monday 7 December 2015

Guest Post - A Day in the Life of a Beer Communicator

Beer Communicators. Doing the hard work so you don't have to

Beer Communicators have been mentioned a lot recently. With the British Beer Writers awards naming it as an official award category, many people have been wondering what exactly a "Beer Communicator" is. Luckily, we here at Seeing The Lizards already know one of this esteemed breed. So, we've asked Simon Freebie-Imbiber to give us the lowdown on what this important sector of the Beer World gets up to.

"10.00am : Woke up with a killer hangover from last night's Craft Beer talk 'Takeovers : Threat, menace or opportunity?', but I'll carry on because I'm such a trooper. Made sure I tweeted saying so. One to Simon, I think.

12.30pm : Got involved in a Twitter argument about the terminology of my job. Apparently 'Beer Communicator' is self-regarding and pretentious, or so these haters say. Told them I was wonderful, and I know far more about it than they do. Then blocked them. Sorted.

3.30pm : First work of the day. Putting together a 'Freebie-Imbiber' box selection for a monthly beer club.  Worked out 10% commission on every one sold. Made sure I tweeted and FBd it. You know, just to make sure people are aware of my awesome choices.

6.00pm : At the local Craft Beer bar with various Brewing associates.  It's always good to go out with friends. Especially when they're buying the drinks!  One mate who owns a brewery even gave me a case of her latest IPA. 'You will mention my beer in your next column, after you've tried and liked it of course?' she said. I see no reason why not, myself.

9.00pm : Sat at the winner's table at the Beer Communicator's Awards Ceremony. Only the third this month too (note to self : have to improve this situation guys!).  The beer flowed, courtesy of the PR Company running it.  Pick up some glass thing. Silver Award or something. Am great, apparently. But everyone knew that already, duh!

11.45pm : Back home on the computer writing up today's events. Well, the Public have to be kept aware of the News that's going on, right? And if I have to drink pint after pint of free beer, then it's a sacrifice I'm prepared to make. Yes, it's a hard life as a Beer Communicator. "