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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Bailey -

I've been pondering the impact on the 'discourse' (ugh) of alpha male brewers: bluster and stridently expressed self-belief are quite effective ways of silencing criticism, and the consumer is, by definition, a passive creature.

Alan -

That is fairly charitable. I have been almost universally disappointed by both breweries referenced in the article. Not on the basis of the quality for the price. Just on the quality. My read is these are folk with a keen interest in making more markup per ounce of beer. Interestingly, other newer brewers who make a better product at a better price pose the best counter argument.

Gary Gillman -

Beer always came in different bottling and can sizes in Canada and the U.S. For 30 years I've bought beer in the States in everything from 8 ounce bottles (the old Little Kings Cream Ale) to 12 to 22 oz. and those wide screw cap larger bottles e.g. of Ballantine XXX and malt liquor and many other brands, all these have been available for years. Big bottles have also accompanied the craft beer rise, from the beginning , it's not new. Perhaps what is newer is more big alcohol beers, into which the big bottle format fits well since two or three people can split it. You see this all the time at beer bars and also at private beer tastings, it makes good sense and has little to do IMO with status or profit maximization (if anything big bottles are often a great buy).

Further, many people - you just wrote about it - like to cellar away beer and large bottles age better than small ones, or age differently. I am not a partisan of long storage, in general, but many people are and bombers and other large formats are appreciated by them, as e.g. in Belgium where it's been done for years.

Finally, beer is easier to recork than wine, many modern closures - not to mention the old-fashioned stopper cork from whisky bottles - work perfectly to keep a bottle for at least a week, I do it all the time.

I Clay Risen's work but this article left me flat frankly.

Gary

N.B. I agree Alan that the products of some of the brewers mentioned in the article are not that great irrespective of price - there are few Dogfish Head products I've ever really liked for example - but of course there are many other breweries out there to choose from (as you noted) who also bottle in large formats. Large bottle format is just not a huge issue for me and doubt it is developing into one big time out there in beer land, I just don't think so.

Alan -

You are getting into a rut of being a bit of a habitual contrarian, Gary. You need to address the point more often which is the jacking of price not the bottle itself. Concepts around value and the market. You are also avoiding the obvious point for some reason that US strong beer was quite recently put into tiny bottles and even that Dogfish has happily put its strong beers in 12 oz bottles for years.

Consider this and this. Keeping that in mind and appreciate this is a different level of statement I am making, I am not showing you the door but this sort of this and your recent proclamation comments leveraging IMHO leave me flat as they seem to devolve into a sort of boosterism. Time for your own blog for this content?

Alan -

Interesting story on the NYT story. Amazing replication that one might suggest challenges copyright.

Note: Belgians also can good beer, too, and offer in many small formats.

Jeff Alworth -

I am of many, not very engaged minds, on the issue. Yeah, big bottles are awkward and expensive, and they can't, like wine, be easily resealed for drinking the next day or two. Yeah, it's an easy way to make massive profit margins--though on small batches. But look, there are 29,614 beers available in North America. Cheapskates have never had it so good--the values on the shelves are as legion as the rip-offs, and careful buyers don't have to buy into the hype to get exceptional quality. This is the kind of thing that happens as markets mature.

I'll still buy the expensive bottles, but only a few a year, and only of beers I know are exceptional. I'm glad there's a market so brewers make these beers.

Slightly unrelatedly, I do wish North America would get on the half-liter bandwagon. Half-liter bottles are perfect for an evening. I am often left wanting after a 12-ouncer, but feel daunted by a 22. 16.9 is ideal.

Gary Gillman -

Hey Alan I was just posting some reaction to what you wrote and the article you linked. Nothing more and nothing more intended. Sorry if it hit you the wrong way, I tend more often to say when I disagree than when I agree (and I probably agree most of the time). Hope that is okay but if I should stay away just let me know, no hard feelings.

Gary

Alan -

Gary, no hard feelings at all but be aware you are putting positions out which too often are based on your impressions and not well cited. It is not that it hits me one way or the other. It is simply not a very compelling way to make a point.

Alan -

Jeff, you are entirely right except its not being a cheapskate to expect an honest beer at an honest price. I would also welcome more 500 ml but also 8 oz nips. Especially for writers' samples. Folk send me 5 bombers and then ask where were the reviews a week later.

Gary Gillman -

Thanks Alan. On pricing, it is hard to make definitive statements either way without a detailed look at hundreds of brands, so you rely on your own experience as a consumer. Perhaps one thing that would clarify my view is that I don't wish to taste everything. If I can get a similar style at a lower price, I will, eg. an Imperial Stout for $6.99 instead of $20.00 (thinking here of the U.S. mainly). The reason is, rarely do I find the high prices are worth it. Would I buy a smaller size more often if it was available? Perhaps, but there are so many good options in the market, even ours here at home, it rarely seems a problem.

Gary

Alan -

I totally agree with that. I get the price difference between a 15 and 40 dollar wine in most cases but I recall sitting around with looking at the glasses of something by Lost Abbey we had just poured and said to each other - "that's it?" Jeff point is in line with that. There is so much well price high quality beer, surely this big bottle big price approach is doomed.

Jeff Alworth -

Nips: totally agree.

Random: by far the best value imports are German beers. Go buy an armload of Ayinger (500 mls!) at half the price of the average bomber and bask in your genius.

Alan -

Exactly. We have 500 ml of Aventinus for $2.85. We are also having a fest currently on $ 3.55 Orval around here as well as, soon, $8 big bottles of Saison Dupont.

Alan -

Jay gets a little worked up about it all.

Alan -

That stuff was well put by Jay. Risen wrote a weird article on the Oxford Companion to Beer, too, that indicated a certain tendency to Stockholm syndrome when trapped in a paradigm where errors were common.

Alan -

But, to be fair to me, that means generally I take a pass. I think it also will make for backlash one day as craft beer might become a synonym for the alcoholic's choice. Swanky malt liquor.

ethan -

By which you could only mean Dirtbag McQuaig's Malt Liquor For Fine Gentlemen:

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/great-lakes-brewing-dirtbag-mcquaigs-malt-liquor-for-fine-gentlemen/171277/

Valerie Keefe -

Speaking of differentiated prices, I used to believe that the reason for the differentiation between the price of Canadian and American brew was the ever-dreaded taxation... just did some research though, and my local craft brewer pays something on the order of 65 cents for a six-pack. This really isn't that much. The big brewers pay about $2.40, to be sure, but at wholesale prices of $19 a case, this is not the cause of the inter-border price spread.