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

Jeff Alworth -

This reminds me of the related Heady Topper frenzy, which only seems to be growing. It's only related, because The Alchemist, god bless them, are keeping prices pretty low. But it is relevant because it includes the element of rare, which is the other key ingredient in this murky stew. In order to command massive price, it must be rare. Exceptional beer + abundance = cheap. Rare beer + perception of quality = expensive.

But like my friend Patrick the economist says, this shall pass. People may be suckers, but they're not suckers forever.

Professor Pie-Tin -

It's not just experimental beer at rip-off prices but the whole craft beer nonsense that tries to pretend that just because it's not produced by a macro it should carry a hefty tag.

The so-called craft beer revolution in the UK simply hasn't gripped the public's imagination because of that policy whereas the 900-pub chain Weatherspoons which bangs out excellently-priced beer sourced from small,local breweries as well as large corporate ones has.

Trouble is it's real ale rather than craft beer - one is for old farts,the other for hipsters.Allegedly.

To me it's just beer,Good or bad.

And there's only so much I'm willing to pay for it.

Harrumph.

Alan -

Thanks for patients with the moderation. I had about 200 spams an hour for a while there.

Rare is in there, Jeff, but with beer it is manufactured rarity. There really isn't anything related to beer that isn't quite quickly scalable. But why would one when a series of intentionally high priced limited editions commands a premium when the shine goes off the actual initial good beer.

PPT, the UK "craft" experience seems to be particularly precious. US and Canadian craft includes that same middle market role that real ale plays. So a brewer like Stone or Brooklyn has a range of prices including some beers that, for the Canadian traveling south, have very modest prices for very good beer. For me this accentuates the absurdity of the tail chasing for over priced experiments like Jeff references with the two Vermont brews - there is usually some other really excellent beer for far less on the same shelf.

Alan -

Very odd set of resistant responses amongst UK beer writers.

Professor Pie-Tin -

UK beer writers are so out of touch with what most people actually want to drink their responses are understandable.
The usual suspects are mostly a coterie of bottom-sniffers aiming their scribbling at each other as they wet themselves over whatever the latest Brewdog rubbish is or how well they know a head brewer at some marvellously innovative craft brewery producing £10 bottles of undrinkable slops.
I much prefer the bloggers who actually visit pubs, often in the company of their mates, who like a good session and don't expect to pay the earth for it.
It all reminds me of the days when wine suddenly became fashionable in the UK and similar poncy idiots disappeared up their own behinds attempting ever more esoteric descriptions of plonk.
Harrumph again,I say !

Bailey -

Think those 'odd' responses are specifically prompted by the Guardian hack who writes about beer a few times a year, usually repeating an argument someone like Tandleman made better in a blog post two years before.

I tend to agree with Adrian Tierney-Jones the more I think about it (and I guess that means, reluctantly, I must disagree with you...): I don't think that silly, deliberately rare, expensive beers do any real harm, or that they will drag the overall price of beer up.

Is there evidence from other markets that this has happened? I don't know any other markets very well but hasn't, say, supermarket cheese improved while retaining its price (probably at the expense of farmers...) because of competition from the 'artisanal' stuff?

Alan -

You may disagree with me.

[... waves hand quasi-papally to the east...]

There is evidence of inflationary pressures on the general price of beer from the gentrification of all craft and the extension of the northern price point. I can show you receipts I have kept over five years and show the price increases have been far in excess of general inflation. But it is not irrefutable evidence. It reminds me a lot of the car section of the newspaper largely filled with fawning reviews and ads from manufacturers. To take another path than that of the loyal fan makes for mercantile upset. Smart phones would also have that aspect, fans. But craft beer has that added aspect, alcohol. Very complex. Different views are valid.

My point is not that it is convincing evidence but that it is worth exploring. That someone does so from outside the normal set of beer voices is good for me as there is the unwritten code of what goes unwritten by the normal set of beer voices. This is not a bad thing but we all have to admit not rocking the boat is part of the discourse. Which makes my place so much fun.

That being said, this is a major part of the explorations n the upcoming book The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer. The point will not, I hope you will find, to take sides so much as to vigorously shake the discourse to see where it all lands.

Jeff Alworth -

Agreed, except for this: "There really isn't anything related to beer that isn't quite quickly scalable." Amend to "almost anything." Things like gueuzes and foeder-aged beer from Flanders can't be scaled very high, and certainly not quickly. But those beers are statistically non-existent.

Why couldn't RR make more Pliny? Because if it were available all the time, the geeks might lose their razor focus on it.

Ed -

I'm with you Alan. I don't get why people are so keen to pay big money for sucker juice when they can get great beer for a lot less.

Bailey -

"That someone does so from outside the normal set of beer voices is good for me..."

That's a good point, though I'm still not sure I get much from Naylor's columns I don't get from any randomly chosen UK beer blogger.

"It reminds me a lot of the car section of the newspaper largely filled with fawning reviews and ads from manufacturers. To take another path than that of the loyal fan makes for mercantile upset."

See, I'm less cynical: I tend to think most pro beer writers got into it because they love beer (though there are a couple I think are opportunist hacks) and therefore don't doubt their sincerity when they get excited about unusual beers. But who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men...

Ed -- this exchange might help explain it: some people have a high (different? wrong?) threshold for what is 'great'. Personally, I get plenty out of a scenic bus route, but I can understand why others might need a rollercoaster.

Alan -

That is interesting. I don't make much of a difference between pro writers and writers but I went to a small college with a journalism school so pals have moved up in their careers and all of a sudden I am a source. And like you now a beer book writer under contract. So the distinction does not hold much for me.

That being said, both ideas can have validity. The sucker juice can be a rip off while innovative beers can be good value. If pro writers are not investigating both realities the they are just paid poor thinkers.

Bailey -

"The sucker juice can be a rip off while innovative beers can be good value."

Yes.

Disappointing -- was hoping for some prolonged bickering culminating in personal insults.

DaveS -

"The so-called craft beer revolution in the UK simply hasn't gripped the public's imagination because of that policy whereas the 900-pub chain Weatherspoons which bangs out excellently-priced beer sourced from small,local breweries as well as large corporate ones has."

Surely this is the root of the not-a-problem, though, and the reason that a lot of people (inlcuding a lot of the aforementioned bloggers) don't mind the price of "craft" beer? It's still quite easy to get good beer for not very much money. If you insist on sipping limited edition barrel-aged imperial saison in a craft beer bar then it's your lookout.

Regarding more middle-of-the-road "craft" beers, it's still a free market with relatively low barriers to entry. Given the almost implausible number of breweries competing for business in the UK these days, if it was that easy to sell good beer for less money you'd think at least one of them would have tried it by now and cleaned up when they did...

Ed -

Bailey: having read the exchange I see it's extremophiles, which I am on occasion but not everyday. I still don't like paying sucker juice prices though!

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