Drunken Speculation

MR | First Edition, April 2014

vlcsnap-2013-02-16-13h51m47s83Last week on Drunken Speculation, I reviewed the unimperialised version of a forthcoming GABS beer and looked at my bellybutton in a way that didn’t really answer the vibe of the Session.

Speaking of the Session, this is the second one in a row where I feel like I haven’t done the topic justice. It’s less that I had no time for Session #86, more that I thought I’d put up a half decent answer and then read the other responses and realised I’d actually been very lazy. I should’ve followed one of the rant/navel-gazing/strawman routes.

The general consensus seemed to be that beer writing is not up to the standard that the term “journalism” would imply, whether that’s through a lack of interest from the mainstream media (where the definition of “journalism” is also very shaky) or a lack of writing skill and ability in the amateur blogosphere, and a few shouts-out to the professionals who inspire the top amateurs. Fair points but there was no direction going forward unless it was “Do it better, dumbass” which is not encouraging to say the least.

To Tweet(s) of the Week!

Saturday night was the big Stone tap takeover in Melbourne. My Twitter feed filled up, mostly pimped by Experience IT, although I found the above two observations interesting. One is that Thunder Road don’t seem to be playing the “we’re all friends here in the beer community” game, which I don’t think I would necessarily if I was a brewer but at the same time, seems like kind of a dick move. The other is that Greg Koch, a man beer geeks seem to worship the ground/bar tops on which he stands, is a dirty hipster. For some reason, I’d imagined someone more professional looking but I suppose he is on holidays. I’m quietly hoping there’s a wrap-up in the next Ale of a Time podcast.

A second Tweet is worthy of inclusion this week:

It started with a blog post – from a non-beer blog (those are a thing?) – who unfavourably compared Beechworth Pale Ale to water, fucking up the Monty Python joke in the process. Part of the feedback quoted in the post was from a guy photographed in the same post with a clear bottle of macro lager (I’m guessing Great Northern). I try not to encourage beer snobbishiness and you know, each to their own, etc, etc but if there’s a person who deserves a bit of derision, it’s the guy who can’t handle a widdle bit of hoppiness in his beer. It’s beer, it’s got to be hoppy and/or malty. It can’t be neither or else what’s the point? What a noob.

Moving on, what did others have to say last week?

Australian Brews News – Brewers Association says beer has an ‘image problem’. Rest of the world says ‘duh’.

The brewers do realise that one of the four (or five) ingredients in beer is hops. Hops give beer bitterness. Beer is an inherently bitter. That’s what it is, Yet brewers have gradually crept the bitterness of beer down to the microscopic level to pander to the changing tastes of new generations of drinkers. Not beer drinkers, mind you. Drinkers. Now beer is perceived as ‘boring’. Um yeah, because it has no flavour. “Crisp” and “refreshing” are not adjectives that describe flavour, they describe the absence of flavour.

I don’t necessarily enjoy the denouncing of the big boys when it’s done in a ranty way but when the skewering is done with precision and accuracy, then by God, it’s pure gold. Matt Kirkegaard has nailed it. However, I took exception to one particular piece that didn’t rate a mention:

The Shout – Brewers reveal blueprint to revive beer

Shape and share positive stories – such as Lion’s Beer Pilgrim (pictured right), who already has more than 14,000 Facebook fans, a reasonable percentage of which are female. “We probably need ten of this guy,” Powell said

Ten of the Lion Beer Pilgrim, eh? And what about the people who actually like beer, not your beer obviously, but like it enough to take time out of their day to write positive beer stories? beer is your friend, 250 Beers and girl+beer are a few of the better known ones but there are literally dozens out there. See below, for example. However, because the marketing message can’t be controlled, the big boys aren’t interested in courting the blogger-punter to convince them their beer isn’t barley-flavoured, alcoholic soft drink.

I don’t include ourselves because we don’t do “positive” so I’m willing to flog the drunkspec brand for the right price (hint: starting thinking zeroes and commas).

Brewed, Crude & Bitter – Brewsvegas: Ugly City Done Good

Despite its flourishing craft-beer and indeed broader cultural scene, Brisbane is still trying to reconcile its less-than-glam history with its desire to be taken seriously. Much like the struggles of Dante – the protagonist of Johnno – with the city he grew up in, Brisbane has wrestled with its own backwater past…

However, in spite of itself – as Dante learns in the book – Brisbane’s faults, ugliness and, most of all, its people are what illuminates the city. With its foundation firmly fixed as a grass roots festival, the palpable energy of Brewsvegas felt like Brisbane’s dwellers had stumbled upon the same realisation as Dante.  

Eloquent.

Beervana – Brewers Association Unveils New Definition of Craft Beer

Brewed by the “right” people:  Craft beer is brewed by the guy down the block.  Or possibly contract brewed by the guy down the block.  Or possibly by 243 guys on the other side of the country.  It might be brewed in a series of large industrial breweries as well, just not breweries that are too large.  It is never brewed by large Belgian-owned brewing conglomerates, but middle-sized Belgian brewing conglomerates are a-okay.  (Middle-sized Costa Rican conglomerates are not a-okay.)  Actually, we’ll tell you who the right people are.  We keep a list.

Rogue – A Revolution in Glassware

We started this project based on the notion that world class stouts need a world class glass. In collaboration with Left Hand Brewing and Spiegelau, we created the Stout Glass. The final Stout Glass we selected highlights both the flavors and nuances of our stouts.

Drinks Business – Could insufferable self-righteousness stifle craft beer?

Simply because I dared speak critically of an aspect of the craft-beer world. In spite of my statement at the end of the article that no brewery people were involved or aware of the article in advance, I was even accused of being on the take. “Troll” was among the nicer epithets (one we’ll no doubt see again).

Ramblings of a Beer Runner – Bubble Bursting Numbers from the Brewers Association

The good news is that the astonishing recent growth of craft beer sales hasn’t slowed, but has inexplicably increased.  A recent press release by the Brewer’s Association reports an 18% volume growth and a 20% revenue growth in 2013.  These are just amazing numbers.  Rarely does growth in any industry, let alone a fairly mature one like beer, reach these anything close to these growth levels.

I think about beer – Can beer that’s cold be brought up to room temperature and stored without ruining it?

Additionally, breweries, on average, figure that they want their beer tasting about 70% of “brewery fresh” by the time it reaches its pull date.  At 70% of original freshness, most consumers will taste very little difference between fresh and pull date beer.  According to the chart, if the beer is kept at room temperature for its entire life, it should reach its pull date approximately 110-120 days after packaging.  As the red line (the line on the left) indicates, it will degrade much faster at a higher temperature.

Other highlights:

Anything I missed?

5 comments

  1. hmm… not much of a wrap coming from us. Dave wasn’t there and I went along, had 4 beers from their standard range (all of which were very good) but didn’t stick around for the lecturing. One might call it “circle-jerking” but I would never say such a thing.

    I’m also not sure what standing in front of a Thunder Road truck giving the finger achieves?

    Two wrongs just make everyone look like childish douche-bags

    If you are interested, here is his speech from NZ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA5n-cR5ce4

    • Fair points. I was wondering if the lecture/circle-jerking had been changed up from NZ but I guess not. Phil Cook did a good summary which I included in last week’s/the week before’s MR.

      I will also admit to not noticing the guys giving the finger. As you say, childish but for me, the blatantness of Thunder Rd turning up is more interesting. That element of open competition, instead of camaraderie, is something that has been missing from the industry (from where I sit) but is normal behaviour in other industries.

      • Ah, there was a second photo with an all in “flip off”. Also Thunder Road are famously uninterested and actively hostile towards other brewers, so I guess it’s something we are used to down here.

      • I think my entire knowledge of Thunder Rd comes from the discussion you guys had in one of your early sodes and the trademark suit they brought against CUB, which I did a bit of poking around about for a future post.

        Here, we have brewers not interested in collaborating with rivals but actively disrupting others’ events is new to me. Interesting group of people.

  2. I cringed at the raised finger thing, and the “fizzy yellow water” references I saw on Twitter after the event. I felt it just reinforced the negative image that people who love craft beer are huge snobs who think they’re better because of the beer they drink.
    This sort of stuff just alienates potential craft beer drinkers.

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