Drunken Speculation

MR | First Edition, February 2014

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Last week on Drunken Speculation,

As I commented in the “WTF is Chlorophenol?” post, the distinction between faulty beer and beer you don’t like is a difficult one to make. After a year of committed sniffing and sipping, I’m still not well across the range of defects. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it’s important for average punter to understand what constitutes a faulty beer. Otherwise, some prick behind the bar will flick his hair and sneer, “Uh, it’s supposed to be like that” and you won’t know if you deserve a refund. If I can bring myself to tolerate that shit, faulty beers may become my raison d’etre this year. Case in point, I used a birthday gift card to buy a beer from the same brewery as “Yandina Brewing” to see if it has a similar affliction.

To the Tweet of the Week!

I was tempted to post something about negative blogging (God forbid you write something critical) and astro-turfing (and when you do, you cop shit from supposed punters for writing something critical), but this was much funnier. Someone at Budweiser is paying a person to run their Twitter account and this is what they get. They haven’t even bothered to delete it because, just a crazy guess, it’s gotten them a stack of re-tweets they otherwise wouldn’t have. That said, I’ll make an offer to Budweiser right now: I’ll do it for half whatever you’re paying your current Twittermaster and I won’t post gibberish. How about it, Bud? (I won’t accept beer as payment from you, just dollars)

In other news:

The Shout – Treasury Wine slashes earnings forecast

TWE announced its expectation that EBITS for the first half of fiscal 2014 would be in the range of $42 million to $46 million (based on unaudited financial accounts) compared to $73.4 million in the prior year on a reported currency basis.

“Liam, why do I care about Treasury Wine Estates, the spun-off wine arm of Fosters?” you ask. Well, I think its an interesting demonstration of what we may see in the years to come for beer. I’m not well across the whole history of the Australian wine glut but I understand that people realised that wine grapes could be grown here, the government jumped on board and created tax concessions, a huge wave of investment followed with the net result of more wine than people wanted to drink. Prices dropped, in some cases below cost, and TWE, which probably looked a solid bet when picked up by Fosters, last year famously had to write-off $35 million worth of wine they just couldn’t get rid of in the States. The CEO was blamed, sacked and now, given the trading halt prior to the earnings downgrade, TWE is under fire for the sacking.

The point is, as small-scale brewers become medium-to-large scale brewers, the investment dollars will flow and it won’t be just about making a quality product but also managing the growth of the business. For example, speaking of managerial errors…

The BeerCast – Brewmeister reveal a new look. But how ‘new’ is it?

At the end of last week, Scottish producer Brewmeister revealed their new branding and line-up of beers (pictured above), which is a fair step away from the look they had launched with, back in 2012… [O]nce the wraps had come off the new Brewmeister bottles, almost immediately people began pointing out how similar it was to a certain other Scottish brewery…

To which Brewmeister responded later in the week:

Brewmeister – We have lift off…and one or two problems

We also had CP & Co design us a brochure which is to be given to importers abroad, with a controversial phrase stating that keg costs are priced the same as commercial lagers but that the customer would be willing to pay more. In this case we are taking the hit financially by giving the importer beer at a very reasonable price. The end consumer pays what is actually quite good value for a high quality beer. The brochure itself was an initial draft, which was only uploaded to show the picture of the new range. A rookie mistake indeed!

Growler Fills – Don’t Bash Beer! Is that the right message?

Though I did not know it at the time, that first post (which, incidentally shows how far this blog has come in four years) demonstrates the very problem with trying to define “craft brewer,” much less “craft beer.”  For the vast majority of us, we’re after great tasting beer.  If it tastes great we’ll drink it and buy more.

That also presents a conundrum. We know the BA and many craft brewers expected us to distinguish between “big beer” and “craft brewers,” but the BA has done a poor job of explaining precisely why.

More on the talk from Stan Hieronymus:

Appellation Beer – Because we all love a good beer rant

But in the midst of his 45-minute presentation to something like 300 beer industry types he rolled over the rock labeled “movement” and suggested “craft beer” could eventually account for 70 percent of all beer sales. Seventy percent. At that point perhaps we might be able to agree to just call it beer.

Queen City Drinks – My days of being drunk are over, instead I’ll be rabbited!

Two pages later it switches from quotes to trivia and drops this absurd nugget of knowledge:

The Aztec of Mexico used a “rabbit scale” to describe degrees of intoxication. It ranged from very mild intoxication (a few rabbits) to heavy drunkenness (400 rabbits).

Now you see where I’m going with this post.

beerbarband – When Australia Day is hot

I think that the biggest issue threatening the long-term sustainability (in terms of interest and relevance) of this poll is that the top 10 tend to be very similar each year. The top 3 haven’t changed much at all over the life of the poll.

The fix? Take the TripleJ Hottest 100 approach and make it a poll of the hottest 100 Australian beers from the last calendar year.

I don’t think this would have been possible until now, because there haven’t been quite enough new Aussie beers in a year to suitably fill a poll of 100. But now, the Australian beer industry may be able to fill a new-beers-per-year poll.

Garth Turner – Trust me

Ten years later the place is worth a ton more. Jimmy, now 31, wants to start a micro-brewery and could use the $300,000 he figures his share is worth. Trish is happy to let things ride until she finishes university. Bev?  She’s come to think of the place as hers. When Jim told his sisters he wanted out, Bev was stark. “I’m not selling, and there’s no way we’re taking on a giant mortgage so you and your buddies can piss it away on some stupid beer project,” she said. “Seriously. Just get a job.”

Other highlights:

Anything I missed?

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