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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Velky Al -

I think Hindy is right in many respects, though wrong in another. Craft beer fans are not loyal to the particular brands of the breweries themselves, but are intensely loyal to the brand of craft beer itself. While this is probably a good thing because every new brewery will find a ready audience willing to at least try their beer, it does become a problem for the brewery if their products are not up to snuff (though I must admit there are a few breweries in my neck of the woods that seem to do well, but I can't for the life of me work out how as their beers are flawed in so many ways).

Again I think this comes down to the difference between drinkers and samplers/tickers. Drinkers when they find a beer they love just want more of it, while still trying other stuff they come back time and again to a beer they know and love. Samplers/tickers do endless flights of samples and consciously never build that relationship with the beer and by extension, the brewery.

From my experience in a brewery tasting room that also sells pints, the tickers outnumber the drinkers by about 5 to 1 - is it really a sustainable business model? I have to wonder sometimes...

itslunchtimeca -

I'm inclined to go the other way on this. I'm not stuck to a beer but rather to different breweries. If a brewery consistently puts out good beer in different styles, I am more inclined to try something else. If one brewery would put out 13 different beer a month then I probably wouldn't try another brewery. I like different beer.

Akin to good restaurants. I won't have the same thing time and time again but vary the menu with seasonality, interesting ingredients and preparations, then I'll be back.

Craig -

A bit off topic, but I agree that loyalty and brand recognition go hand in hand. But I think the small craft breweries have done a disservice to themselves as far as branding goes. They simply offer too many styles, each with individual identities. These breweries want to be everything to everyone, and that can be a slippery slope. With few exceptions the anchor beer or beers concept, by which to build a brand off of, has given way to the idea that a brewery must produce as many kinds of beer as possible, using as many kinds of ingredients as possible, in order to gain recognition and compete against similarly sized small breweries. That beer, the brewery—and in turn the brewer—is then sold as being more innovative and/or creative than some other brewery.

I think a brewery that builds a brand around a few, really good quality beers (or even one—look at Heady Topper's success) that are easily recognized, has a better chance of building a loyal following than those who offer a laundry list of so-called "options". It just becomes too much to keep track of who's making what.

Patrick R. -

Craft beer fans can definitely be loyal to brands. Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams are great examples; the former in Northern California, the latter in Massachusetts.

While one could debate whether these two are authentically craft, I see Sierra Nevada on tap in almost every San Francisco bar. I love the Pale Ale, thus I've tried their Torpedo, Porter, and Hefeweizen.

Craft breweries, much like macro breweries, simply need time and a great product to earn loyalty. Also, I think brewpubs are essential here.

Velky Al -

"While one could debate whether these two are authentically craft"

How exactly?

Alan -

Because they are each at best "big craft" intra-state truckers of gas station and grocery store discount denizens. Not to mention one is a maker of alcopop coolers with retracting beer sales.

Alan McLeod -

Damn. Deleted two real comments amongst 250 odd spam. Velky was saying something about the Brewers Association and then someone else started a sentence with something like "all these definitions amuse me because..." which looked a lot like drive-by hipster snark. Could be wrong.

Chris -

I do see loyalty, but to breweries, not to brands. There's a brewery here in New Jersey that I've grown quite fond of, enough so that I'll most always order one of their beers when I find one on tap, or try anything new they offer. The variety certainly keeps me coming back. I suppose the question is whether or not that sort of model is sustainable. Is it better to have 10 varied beers that are pretty good, or two or three that are of very high, consistent quality?

So I'm not quite sure where we're at with loyalty, but I do see a lot of short attention spans. Comments about how certain legacy brewers around me aren't "interesting" enough. I'd like to think that consistency and quality would win out, but I'm not sure.

Velky Al -

As I was saying Alan...something like:

But they fit the definition of craft according to the Brewers Association....which I guess makes the definition more irrelevant than ever.

Or something.

Alan -

Listen, as long as you aren't pushing on line casinos or Viagra you have something to say.