Trouble Brewing - Our take on 5 contentious issues
The problems facing today's brewers...
Any industry that's in a constant state of flux or undergoing radical change will have its fair share of contentious issues. Brewing being no exception.
Here is the official line from BrewDog -
1. Canned Craft:
When BrewDog asked our blog readers what they thought about packaging our flagship beer – Punk IPA – in cans, the response was mixed. Canned beers clearly held negative connotations – cheap, poor quality of taste and little mouth feel. On the otherhand, we felt that cans were easier to store, carry and recycle, boast a smaller carbon footprint and needn't affect the taste of the beer if a high quality aluminum is used. On the whole, the reception to canned BrewDog has been positive although, for a small number of people, the aftertaste left by a historically negative view of canned beers cans still proves a stumbling block. While challenging perceptions is part of the BrewDog manifesto, it just goes to show that changing the serve of beer – from bottle to can, keg to cask – is still a bone of contention amongst many beer drinkers.
2. Extreme High Gravity Brewing:
Three years down the line from the launch of our very first 12% ABV Tokyo and neither the press nor the majority of the public seem to have to seen sense over the idea of super strength beers. Branded 'irresponsible' and 'dangerous', you might've been led to believe that this intergalactic fantastic stout could bring society to its knees with as little as one mouthful. Almost ten 'super strength' craft beers later and the debate still rages as to whether high strength beers are nothing more than another catalyst to Scotland's love affair with drink. As long as the problem with binge drinking lies in the palm of irresponsible pricing, BrewDog will continue to make contemporary craft beers, whatever the ABV.
3. Cask V Keg:
A point you'll be familiar with if you've been following CAMRA or anyone writing in the craft beer blogosphere, the debate of cask V keg gets undoubtedly more air time than the discussion of craft beer in cans. For BrewDog – despite cries of 'cask ale bashing' - we really don't care what vessel our beer is transported or stored in as long as it adds to the brew in a positive way. While we're firm believers in the carbonation in beer – taking a puritanical stance that rejects a beer on the basis of carbonation or keg alone only serves to push the industry backwards rather than forwards. Different beers suit different types of dispense. Beers such as milds of bitters are best showcased in cask whereas we feel hoppy, American style craft ales suit the draft dispense far better than the handpump. We also think some of our beers, such as Trashy Blonde suit cask better than keg. However, for us big hoppy beers need the carbonation to stop them from becoming sticky or cloying on the pallet and help deliver the flavour to your tastebuds in the most satisfying and encapsulating way.
Maybe we should just ship everything in whisky casks?
4. Multinational Buyouts:
The demand for craft beer is on the rise, there's no denying it. With supermarket chains stocking it, newspapers devoting full page spreads to it and TV chefs cooking with it, it's not surprising that the ears of some of the world's most monolithic multinationals quickly began to crane towards the craft beer buzz. With Sharp’s selling to Molson Coors and the buy-out of Goose Island by InBev earlier this year, we quickly had the craft community raising questions about whether filler ingredients like rice would work their way into classic Goose Island recipes or whether production would move out of Chicago altogether. For Goose Island, the effects of the buy-out have yet to bed in but, in the meantime growing interest from the multinational brewers in craft beer can only mean one thing; the time of the craft beer revolution is drawing near. Craft brewers can grow their businesses organically year on year, the mega corporations can only grow their businesses through acquisition. As far as BrewDog is concerned, we would never sell to the big beer companies and see our future as releasing more equity to the people who actually drink our beers as opposed to companies who fundamentally oppose everything we stand for.
5. Rising Duty on Beer:
Back in March when the 2011 Budget was released, many people were quick to disagree with our stance on rising beer duty however we wholly stand by rising taxation as a means of getting more people to drink better quality beer and reducing the social impact of irresponsible pricing by industrial brewers. BrewDog are still the only brewery to publicly back the Scottish Government's recent proposals on the minimum pricing of alcohol although renewed parliamentary discussion of the matter from both the new SNP government and the Liberal Democrats means this issue is still one to watch.
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on these issues.
- I just thought of something; if you are still getting stick about the high Abv. beers. Bottle them in a bottle similar to a Grolsch 'pop top' so that the bottle can be resealed and the drinker is not requird to drink the whole bottle in one go. State that the beer is intended to be drunk like a fine Scotch. Mark Richards18.06.2011
- Are these journalists retarded or what?
Who cares if a beer is 18%. These beers are for the beer lover and connoisseur. Not for some 18 year old chav to binge drink on.
Are they forgetting that many super markets and stores sell bottles of cheao wine and spirits for around £2 that are stronger than your average BrewDog, yet they are not up in arms about that are they?!
Total clowns the lot of them!John17.06.2011
- All of these people condemning BrewDog on the strength of their beers fail to comment on the fact that these aren't cheap £2 for a six pack supermarket drinks. The people who binge drink do it on Carlsberg special brew and the like, not bottles of Tokyo or Sink The Bismark!!! AHAHA16.06.2011
- 1. Cans, great idea, no bottle opener and i dont risk breaking them when going to outdoor events.
2. I drink for enjoyment and taste, sometimes several pints, sometimes sipping after a good meal, i dont decide based on the strength.
3. Cask, i like some cask ale i also like some keg. They really shouldnt be compared. I dont drink vodka and suggest it should be more like Gin.
4. Buyouts, a side effect of success, yes things change maybe not for the good. We might see craft brewers buying each other?
5. Duty, death and taxes, the only thing you can be sure of. If you buy on price (ignoring the ridiculous) you can buy ethanol without tax! Mix it with cordial and you'll be happy and possibly blind. All brewdogs pricing would be above a minimum price per unit im sure so why worry.
All in all all these points support not only the need for brewers like Brewdog but also the need for an open mind and the understanding that if it says beer on the label it dosent mean that its all the same.
Off my soap box now, feel free to make notes as there will be questions later.Dave East15.06.2011
- Loving Punk IPA in Cans. Tastes the same if not better than the keg version in the BD bar, and you can hold twice as many, as bottles in the fridge. Ian Prise15.06.2011
- No updates.... Tumbleweed... Sorry - Have I just killed the blog?
I like beer. I like beer. I like beer.Pete O15.06.2011
- @Tim Mars Turf has a funny smell I think! Beer selection at the Horse is better at winter in my opinion.
Fantastic blog, the cask vs keg part, I'm a member of CAMRA but some of Brewdog's uber hoppy beers would not at all lend themself to casks and it would be heathenous to put them in cask.
As for the strength debate, I don't hear them complain of stronger Belgian beers, such as Duvel or Chimay which are the most available I believe which are too cheap for the strength (under £2 at supermarkets (wtf))Skippy15.06.2011
- I agree, mostly. Good blog.
I'm not sure pricing is the cause of binge drinking though. Other countries have cheaper alcohol and less of a problem. It's a much deeper social problem than pricing alone. Absence of God Anyone or fear of the notion of God? You, Mr Freud with your hand up at the back?
Come on - let's start a real debate!Pete O15.06.2011
- Well ever since we had our Punk can vs. bottle tasting I have been a fervent proponent of cans. I was just at a beer dinner event with Adam Avery (Avery Brewing) and we quickly touched on the point that cans do help the beer retain more flavor, freshness, etc. They have an eye out to maybe transition their entire line to cans.
I wish BrewDog would transition their entire line to cans. What could be more punk and revolutionary than that? Plus it would be delicious. Here's hoping...Bracken's Bitches15.06.2011
- Who the hell drinks a pint of tokyo?! Stuart Gibson15.06.2011
- Red wine = 5 pints in a bottle
Sherry = 6 pints in a bottle
Whisky = 15 pints in a bottle
Where is the outrage?
Excellent blog. And I absolutely agree on the carbonation issue. American style IPA on cask is as bad as bitter on nitro-keg.Christian Scheffel15.06.2011
- I enjoy reading posts on here that take a more reflective approach and this is one of the best so far. I'd agree with you on everything except the increase in duty. I'm not opposed to minimum prices, but the money shouldn't be going to the Government when they're already collecting VAT on beer in any case. Irresponsible pricing does need to be tackled too of course.
Do you consider Alice porter to taste best on keg or cask?Stephanos15.06.2011
- At last! A thoughtful contribution to the cask v keg debate. I finally understand where youíre coming from.
Iíve never had BrewDog from the keg so I canít judge. I did have a pint of kegged Blue Moon at The Turf Tavern in Oxford and it tasted okay, but it was a hot day and a very expensive distress purchase because of the dismal ales on offerómostly from White Horse.
I love Punk IPA, The Physics and Paradox from the cask, but Iím afraid Iíve always found Trashy Blonde a disappointing beer.
I fully support your stance on the minimum pricing of alcohol. It would level the playing field between supermarkets and pubs, and god knows pubs need the help.Tim Mars15.06.2011
- On the last point, I wish all governments would implement a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
It is the only way to stop binge drinking and will do wonders to the beer market as a whole.
Further, I find it somewhat laughable that there are people that complain about high strength beer in a country that produces millions of liters of whisky every year, last I checked a bottle of shitty whisky is stronger and cheaper than Tokyo*Ö.
fixed. Thanks for the heads up.
- Nice spelling...
"Sharpeís selling to Molsen Coors."