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.