Drunken Speculation

MR | Fourth Edition, February 2014 – #CBR14 & Critic’s Choice


Last week on Drunken Speculation, I looked at just exactly who owns Little Creatures and I re-reviewed in a more straight-forward manner the Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA. The former was surprisingly popular, proving that you can never predict what will capture anyone’s interest.

Saturday was the Australian Craft Beer Rising (CBR#14) event courtesy of the Crafty Pint. ammo was indisposed in Sydney on work-related matters, so it fell to me to drink Australian c-word beer on behalf of the blog. I joined fellow member of the Southside Beer Collective, TheWestbender on a feverish tour around Brisbane’s bar scene, which included:

That’s nine beers at seven venues, all Australian made, with nary a bad beer among them. My favourite beer is split between Death Between the Tanks and the Grappler IPL. Hopefully, Green Beacon introduce the latter as part of their regular line-up. The lowlight was, that while the event was well supported by bars, there didn’t seem to be awareness of the event amongst punters. Also, the tap lineup between some of the bars was very similar, which was disappointing for an event meant to showcase Australian beers.

To Tweet of the Week:

The Critic’s Choice Australia’s Best Beers is in the works for 2013 and Pete Mitcham talks in a short Youtube video about how it’s impossible to determine the best beer (which begs the question why a countdown and not just an alphabetical list) and that no one should get too worked up about the list because it’s only beer, which I’ll be sure to relay on to the next irate brewer/venue owner who complains to us about our negative opinions. It took only a few hours for Pete to get involved in an argument on Facebook with someone who didn’t like his beer choice for the video. Beer nerds are pedantic and angry, people.

The booklet is published by Barrel Media, organisers of Queensland Beer Week, Fluid Festival and publishers of the The Beer Lovers Guide to Australia. For the princely sum of $14.95 (I got my copy for free at QHC), the 2012 edition had thirty-two pages of advertising and somewhere in there is a list of a hundred pretty good beers with insightful critique, such as “What a bloody honour to review this beer” for Little Creatures Rogers to “You won’t find them in your big box retailer” for Holgate Hopinator.

I don’t really have a problem with a critics’ beer countdown (I’ll put my hand up for next year’s edition, even though I have about as much ability to critique beer as the screaming hobo at the train station you passed on the way to work), I more have a problem with the any price tag for a pile of marketing shlock disguised as a conversation starter for the good of the industry.

So, enough of my opinions, what did others have to say last week?

Called to the Bar – BrewDog: Diacetyl machine and all

Come inside a container says BrewDog’s James Watt, quietly spoken, slightly shy it seems to me, nothing like the reprehensible, irresponsible that some have suggested, come inside where we leave Sink The Bismarck; there’s a wreath of cold air, it’s -25˚c inside here, gone in 30 seconds.

I’ve always liked BrewDog, I’ve always liked the swagger, the up yours and even the wind-up gramophone of slight hysteria, but in recent years they seemed to have slipped off my radar: the punk aesthetic was becoming tiresome (after all punks grow up, or in my case grow their hair a little longer).

BrewDog flew a few bloggers and writers to Scotland for a tour of their facility and to give some insight into how the operation works. Generally, it seemed well received by the people who have written about it, so I guess there’s another side to the story.

TheWestbender – I wanted to title this ’50 Shades of Grey Importing’ but that was such a lazy name

I believe it is primarily a price thing, because due to the wonders of modern capitalism, there is huge incentive for the Gandalfs to look after their cargo, and treat the beers well to please the end consumer. After all, because a Gandalf doesn’t necessarily have a monopoly over the distribution, there is possibly the incentive to provide even fresher beer, and to work the shelves better than one who has the exclusive ‘legit’ channel. One may have noticed the trickle of old Rogue beers onto BWS shelves recently, showing that even official distribution has its downsides.

Ale of a Time – Quality Control

I found it pretty frustrating considering I know both breweries are passionate about quality control.

We took a beer back the other day because it had a fermentation flaw, and definitely not how it should taste (rather than us just not enjoying it). The barman said “it tasted like that yesterday”.

That beer was $12 a glass. Subsequently it was checked by management and apparently it tasted fine but there was definitely something wrong with ours.

Beer is your friend – Ending the tyranny of Untappd

For me it also means forever seeking out new beers instead of the old. If there’s a beer I love on tap next to a beer I’ve never had before, I would always, always, always try the one I haven’t had (except if it was Two Birds’s Taco, of course – I’d drink that any time I saw it). I’d buy that beer, go find a seat and before I’d even had a sip out would come the smartphone and I’d be clicking onto the Untappd app and looking to check-in the new beer.

(Reminds me of a certain co-blogger)

Beervana – Parsing “Consolidation”

The ten largest beer companies controlled 43.2% of the market a decade ago, but now they have cornered nearly two-thirds (64.9%)–powered by AB InBev’s 20.6% share.  The Goldman Sachs economists acknowledged that this is a big spike in consolidation… But here’s the really weird thing: that means beer still remains well below the level of consolidation of other industries

Literature & Libation – Why Fact Checking is Important – The Craft Beer Community is Smart

Anyone who knows even the basic facts about beer will realize that this ad is so inherently flawed, it had to have been written by someone who either 1) read all they know about beer in a SkyMall catalog on their connecting flight to New York an hour before this was due, or 2) didn’t bother to fact check anything because pffft who cares, it’s just beer. If they had only asked the managing editor’s weird nephew – the one with the big, bushy beard – to read it before it went into print…

Other highlights

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