A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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The Beer Nut -

High price, low effort and limited competition is the effort of every macrobrewer, I'd imagine. I think Guinness/Diageo in Ireland led the way in showing how to do it to best effect.

Knut Albert -

It's a dream situation. Ditto Carlsberg in Scandinavia. But Diageo in Ireland takes the prize, as they have more or less one beer.

Joel Levesque -

Good morning Alan: I certainly don't dispute your observations about my comments in the Moncton newspaper. However, if I may I would like to expand a little because the reporter did not use all the information I gave him. Yes it's true we prefer the government-run liquor corporations of the Maritimes, but it's certainly not because we're lazy. It is our experience over many decades that the government-run sale of beverage alcohol products results in the best overall value for consumers. There is more than price to consider. In Ontario, for example, The Beer Store (TBS), where 80% of beer in the province is purchased, is owned by Molson, Labatt and Sleemen. The result is all other brewers that want to sell beer in Ontario -- including many fine micro breweries -- are at the mercy of their competition. It is nearly impossible for Moosehead, for example, to get a decent promotional opportunity at TBS because our multi-national competitors don't want us to cut into the sale of their brands. A new product listing at TBS costs us a special fee of $50,000. The same fee at a government-owned liquor corporations is usually less than $200. As a small family-owned company this pratice is a burden. For a micro brewer it's impossible. Furthermore, when it comes to ensuring responsible use of alcohol products, the government liquor corporations take this issue much more seriously. While we all love beer, we must acknowledge that it is a product that can cause harm when misused. It has also been our experience that in jurisdictions where government agencies control the sale of alcohol products, the selection and availability of products for consumers is far better. Yes beer is available in convenience stores and super markets in Quebec, but selection is usually limited because the stores either don't have the space or don't want to carry all the products available. Moosehead, for example, has one brand for sale in Quebec. In the Maritimes we have 10 or more. The real issue about the price of beer is finding a balance between a fair price to consumers and supporting the governments who need the revenue from alcohol sales to run schools and hospitals. We don't like high taxes on beer either. Over 50% of the price of beer in the Maritimes is either provincial or federal taxes and fees. But we do understand why these taxes exist. Hopefully governments will recognize that they can't add any more fees to the price of beer or consumers will reduce their consumption. If that happens the beer lovers of the world will be left with very few choices -- most of them mass-market products from the five biggest brewers in the world. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify my comments. Joel Levesque, Moosehead Breweries, Saint John

Alan -

Thank you for your well thought out response. I would disagree that all "government liquor corporations take this issue much more serious" or at least have done so historically as PEI, as I noted, had no anti-drunk driving media campaigns at least until this decade, long after others. Also, there is no proof that I have seen that private stores actually provide poorer protection, just a bald allegation.

As to the stores in Quebec, I would direct you to the convenience stores like Marche Jove in Gatineau that specialize as proof that greater selection is possible in the private sector. NY state shops I frequent prove that as well.

And I agree that taxes go to vital services. But why tax beer? Why not put the cost of hospitals on the retail sales tax alone so that t-totalers pay their fair share of the public burden. That the tax is placed on alcohol does not mean it makes any sense.

I certainly acknowledge that neither you or Moosehead created this situation and your quick and fulsome response is a wonderful credit to Moosehead. Would that you would also being back Ten Penny and London Stout with such skill!

Chris Storey -

All this government run beer bull shit is exactly why I make my own beer. If done right, you can make great beer. My beer costs me $7.00 a 24. All labour is free and taxes are not a factor. I am sick and tired of the government saying we need taxes from this and taxes from that. Well, you "aint gettin no taxes" from my beer. Do I feel guilty? Absolutely not!!!!

P.S. I am looking at 12 cases of beer while I type this. Taxes no included....

Timothy Cox -

Unfortunately I too disagree with a few of Joels points.

I in fact have more interestto purchase beers available in all of the little convienience stores in Quebec with "little available space to carry all of the products". In most quebec grocery stores and convienince stores you can get more interesting and better quality beer than you can at our government run agency liquor stores. Instead of having to decide what I will suffice for as a beer purchase I cna select what is most appealing to my needs for flavour at thaat particular time. In a very small comunity this past march I was able to have the choice between most of Unibroues, RJ brasseurs, and Boreale selections, all of which are better crefted to my needs for flavour.

Yes there are in fact ten Brands for purchase in N.B. But most of them are in fact bland and similar enough that it becomes hard to tell the difference between say a Moose light Alpine or a cold genuine draft. Having said this I am quite partial to the Moose pale ale, the lager and the clancy's brand. If I was going to but macro (which is very rare if ever) I would go with Moose but there are more flavors to be explored.

Also while in quebec I was in two small depaneurs one of which was about the size of the sales counter at the prospect street LC. although stagered there were over 600 beers available for purchase at one and upwards of 400 at the other.
I bleieve there might be 20 "diferent beers available at the LC, a bit of an understatement but alas many of the macros fall into the same swill category for me. Also there is very poor Belguim representation in our province. Affligiem Blonde, Orval and...... well it depends if you want to quantify Unibroues products as belgium.

I can get Delerium and Chimay in Nova Scotia and often do.

I am in fact against the practise of TBS but I do not believe that goverment run institutions is the answer.

I believe that privitization would open up more variety in sales and pricing wars would reduce the cost to the consumer.

The Moose is not an evil entity but the lack distinction in their brews. all would seemingly fot into the same category, I am fine with this and appreciate the fact that they do not try to kill historical examples of other styles such as keiths is doing with their stout and white beers.

Jason -

I have lived in NB for a few years, when I heard about an introduction of cheap beer I was excited, I am used to cheap beers in Alberta costing roughly $1/beer give or take a nickel/beer depending on the liquor store and brand of cheap beer, ie: Lucky, Great Western Brewhouse, Mountain Crest, etc. But the cheap beer in NB (Selection) is only marginally cheaper than the rest, but even if it were a good price, like $11-12/12 pack I wouldn't buy it unless they would bring in other cheap beer as competition. This is just one of the many things that is all wrong about the way the province is run, I wish I could have made NB my home, but the government dips their grubby little paws in your pockets non stop, and for that I am leaving and will give them no more of my money.