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.


  1. I couldn't agree more.

    There is also a certain brewery from the north of Britain which has successfully persuaded loads of people to part with their money for indeterminate returns on the basis that it is some kind of revolutionary 'punk' movement. There is no difference, except in scale, between their hype and that for the latest Star Wars film.

  2. That's exactly right Matthew, but I'd still like you to name the Wheatsheaf as the Pub of the Year please, just to annoy the Moorbrook.

  3. A business may not be your friend, but being friendly can be good business.

    I agree, though - this isn't any different from what has gone before, regardless of fanboys going on about a "new paradigm".

  4. Yeah, well, you do read about people claiming to be in the business of "creating community". Granted, that's a community in which product flows in one direction and cash in the other, but as far as the fans and the producer really do have a common objective - to see "their" beer succeed - I don't think you can deny it's some kind of real community. It's personal. And folks will take it badly when they're "betrayed". We might like to snigger at the naiveté of these deluded consumers, but there's a sense in which the hopefulness makes them better people than we are.

  5. I don't agree that voluntary self-delusion makes them better. I'm reminded of certain types of religious people who keep their faith intact even though they see horrible things happening all over the world to other people, but lose it as soon as something horrible affects them directly.