A Good Beer Blog

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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."


Comments

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The Beer Nut -

I think personalisation is good for what I'll call the craft beer movement, lacking a better term. Its human face is one of the things that craft beer has going for it: drinkers can relate to it in a way they don't relate to big-brand products. Put the names of people whose bylines appear in the beer pages and on the beer bookshelves on the beer labels and customers will follow them.

I don't think supposed authority has anything to do with it. And the UK is a long way from having any celebrity superstar beer writers at risk of being corrupted by unscrupulous microbreweries.

Alan -

Slippery slope alert! Slippery slope alert!!! That way leads to higher prices without any added value.

[PS - I am off to cross the border to NY state just now to, on one hand, buy good beer at good prices at a small town grocery store without any "personage" in view and, on the other, discuss some sort of beer related fund raising event for a public radio station I support... and which they suggest I host. Colour me hypocrite all you want. I just need to know where one's feet should stand and no one is smarter than the collective readership.]

The Beer Nut -

Why do you think that's what lies there? This is the UK, remember, where craft beer generally costs less than mass-market.

And yes there is a campaign to change that -- and rightly so, IMO. But there's a serious value imbalance to be addressed already. If there's slipperiness it's because the ground is levelling; it's far from being a slope.

Tandleman -

Why do you think that's what lies there? This is the UK, remember, where craft beer generally costs less than mass-market.

Does it? News to me.

Jeff Alworth -

<i>For me, Oregon appears to be my preferred model.</i>

Make sure, if you ever pass through these parts, to give me a heads-up. I'll buy you a pint and try to appear humble.

FWIW, there's a local brewery here called Hair of the Dog. It was founded in 1994, and their third beer, released in '96 (ish), was called Fred, for Fred Eckhardt. Mostly, brewer Alan Sprints sticks to four-letter first names (Adam, Rose, Greg, Ruth, Fred), but he violates irregularly, as in Doggie Claws and Blue Dot. The one time he violated it for a first name was when he called his Flemish Red Michael, after Jackson. ("Mike" apparently too irreverent.)

I'm prepared to lose all credibility, declare victory, and retire if he ever calls a beer "Jeff."

Zak -

"Celebrities" - oh, purlease!

Personally, I don't think too hard about it. I'll happily brew with whoever for fun (there's no money in those collabs, obviously), write or talk about whatever I want to write or talk about (sometimes getting paid, but never writing or talking just for money, or getting paid to say something I don't believe), and sell beer to make up the shortfall in income that the other two inevitably leave.

If people perceive me as having a bias as a result of any of this, well, I'm sorry. But not sorry enough to stop doing any of it.

Alan -

I would like to explain that I don't write the headlines. I can't but I would like to. The post drifted and then I was out the door. I thought the text was clear that it was not a bias discussion even if it was about this singular UK thing.

But what's with the "obviously"? Why no money with the collaborations? I take it the label designer wasn't an unpaid volunteer. And drinkers paid for the product. You know, I blog politically elsewhere and, as in the past, blogged during elections for media outlets. For pay. This year? Offers but it was apparently "citizen" bloggers this time so no $$. I declined the offer-like thing. I have mouths to feed so have declined offers to brew for the benefits of all but me, too.

Jeff, I can't believe that you forget the entire Hair of the Dog drama of 2006: http://beerblog.genx40.com/archive/2006/december/hairofthedoga. Had the last one the other day. The yeast held on to the very last cap. Starting to think that yeast is quite tenacious.

The Beer Nut -

Tandleman: Cask Report 2010-11, p.11.

Alan -

That is a good observation, BN, but I will never understand the lesson you draw, that craft brewers need more money for their product. We have an economy milk marketing boards, wheat pools and strict fishing licenses each of which systems give the holders economic rights no other sectors enjoy. As you can imagine, innovation is stifled, prices are set quite high and alternatives are sought. I buy my cheese in another country as much as possible and were some false floor introduced into the economics of craft beer pricing, I would act likewise. Well, I suppose I did yesterday when I bought a six of this for $7.99.

Tandleman -

No access to that. Define craft beer or even better cask craft beer. Or both. I tend to think of craft beer in the context of fancy bottles and kegs.

Zak -

Maybe money isn't discussed because the tacit acknowledgement is that it will be turning us guest brewers into superstars?

The Beer Nut -

Alan, no I'm not talking about a false floor or the adjustment of prices by anything other than the market. But I do believe that if craft brewers made more money at what they did, there would be more craft brewers out there. And that would be a win for me, the drinker. Plus, there's plenty of room for value-brand craft beer too: one of our breweries does a great one, alongside the "premium" craft products.

Tandleman, at its most simple, craft beer is beer made by small breweries. Most of the British beer produced by small breweries is cask. Most of the beer produced by large breweries is keg. Cask is generally cheaper than keg. Ergo, in Britain, craft beer is usually cheaper than macro.

Tandleman -

BN. Well that's one way of looking at it but not what is the usual perception. Nor would you be comparing under your method like with like, even allowing for your definition to be a reasonable one.

Alan -

BN, I just spent a half hour reviewing a US wholesalers price lists to advise a retailer. It's a little thing I do for nothing as I then go shop there myself. And I have to say I am looking for price point rather than supporting a wide variety. Frankly, I think there are enough craft brewers at least in the US. National mega crafts like Dogfish and Stone are even retracting in some markets as there is too much choice leading to less marginal opportunity. They may well be squeezing out local brewers but at least in NE US and Canada I don't see it. If anything, there is too much stupid beer out there. One can't keep up with the nonsensically strong anniversary ales, the stunned faux historicalish brews and whatever gets this year's fad ingredient. A win for me is a heavy (but not insane) selection of well priced (but not jacked up) well made beers.

Zak, I really should have used "generate" rather than "create" in the headline as I think it's more of an innate thing happening. But if you are worth putting on the label you are worth being paid.

The Beer Nut -

Not sure why I'd want to be comparing like with like, Tandleman. I'm comparing two very different products: beer from mega industrials (your Coorses and your InBevs) with beer from small breweries (your Hornbeams and your Greenfields and countless others around the country). Isn't a pint from the former generally dearer than a pint from the latter? That's the impression I got from the Cask Report.

Alan, yes it's a different arrangement in the US I'm sure. But you don't need me to point out that the beer culture in the UK is different, and in the UK craft beer is very often sold at a price which belies the effort and skill that went into producing it.

Jeff Alworth -

Jeff, I can't believe that you forget...

Alan, if you knew me a little better, you could believe it. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and ask my wife, "do I know you, pretty lady?" Okay, it's not that bad, but my memory is shockingly bad. When you're as prone to error and typo as I, that's not always a bad thing.

Tandleman -

BN. I really don't know. Like all beer it depends on where you drink it and this discussion depends on context, so I'm going to leave it as I think I'm getting a bit lost in it.

Get the new personalities to answer. See what they're made of. (-;

Alan -

I love that: "the new personalities." Sounds like a bad 1960s folk trio.

The Beer Nut -

Well one of the celebs wrote the Cask Report that I'm drawing my hypothesis from.

Tandleman -

I love that: "the new personalities." Sounds like a bad 1960s folk trio.

You may say so, I couldn't possibly comment.

Alan -

Not sure of that comment is age-ist or folkist.

Joe Stange -

"We've had a long and thankfully dormant discussion about propriety and beer writing and I am not wanting to go there again... at least not directly."

It's been a while since that discussion took place. It probably ought to take place more often. I wouldn't mind going there again, but I'd rather not clutter our blogs and bore everyone else and then have the chatter pass away into history yet again.

On the other hand, I can't think of another place where we would all actually bother to participate.

Jordan St.John -

I think it's a product of a much smaller geographic location and some fairly expansive media savvy. They're more used to talking about the quality of a pint than we are in North America. The Brits get fanatical about cask temperature and condition. It sort of makes sense that the people equipped with the largest platforms with which to speak on such a contentious issue should be publicized a bit.

Mental Note: become beer blogging celebrity by artificially inflating beer advocate stats until collaboration brew ranks as one of the nation's best beers, then write a tell all book.

DanSmallbeer -

Might not be entirely related to the way this discussion is going, but I have noticed a worrying trend among beer writers in North America. Same might happen in Britain, I'm not sure. I only follow Pete and one or two others.

There are a few North American-based writers, and they are among the most prolific, who seem to have hit on the profitable synergy of cheerleader-capitalism. These writers blog you senseless with pretty vacuous, all-too-positive sentiments designed to appeal to the goodwill of those who associate their love for beer with a "movement".

These writers profess a deep love for the "craft-beer movement" which they fawningly characterize as "revolutionary", "very exciting" or some other hyperbole. But pick beneath the sycophantic veneer of their various websites and you will find a thinly-veiled business model based on attracting sponsorship, advertising and other forms of self-promotion.

The content these writers produce is designed to conform to popular opinion. Any negative observations will always be addressed toward popular folk-devils such as "corporate breweries" and meddling authorities. They will never write anything that moves an emotion in you unless you take existential satisfaction in having your more mainstream opinions massaged and validated.

Everyone is entitled to a living and making money out of beer writing must be lovely, but the moralist in me demands that any monetization should proceed from a genuine love of beer together with a body of insightful, dedicated, and delightful commentary — and not the opportunistic speculation that appears to have sprung from the pages of some entrepreneurial tome with a title like "How to make money off the rising tides of the latest internet-hyped industry".

Alan -

I think, Dan, you are talking about Bizarro Al, the anti-matter me. Especially given the state of the tide of my monetization.