Friday, July 23, 2010

BrewDog Fiasco

Oh, boy. Here we go again. BrewDog is a new, small brewery in Scotland and has received much press lately. For the most part, the press covers their effort to claim the top spot in the 'highest abv beer' battle. Their newest creation is a 55% abv whopper of a beer, "The End of History". As if the abv wasn't enough, these bottles are literally stuffed into the bodies of "taxidermied" animals (squirrels, as far as I can tell).  Why?
I don't know.

But, I do know some people are peeved about this, most notably the perception of a 'marketing gimmick' on behalf of a craft brewery. This seems the same as the macro guys doing it (Vortex bottles, et al), as they are expected to bring focus to the commercial, and away from the actual beer. It irks many beer lovers that any craft brewery would stoop to this level. And the fact that it's in Scotland (close to CAMRA) just adds fuel to the fire.

Is this to be expected now? That craft brewers, using the Internet and other new-wave means of communication and information, will turn to 'outlandish' stunts and 'wacky' commercials?  Probably. Many people will rant and rave, from both sides, if this is right or wrong.

The proof, however is in the beer. Or is it?  Innovative and 'entertaining' marketing tactics haven't sunk Coors, Budweiser or Corona. Their beers aren't very good, but quite profitable.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seasonal Beers...when it's not the season

So, today our order of Sierra Nevada Summerfest arrived. But it wasn't Summerfest. It was Sierra Nevada's new autumn seasonal beer called Tumbler. This is a new beer they are using to replace the very popular Anniversary Ale (as this year is their 30th anniversary, Sierra Nevada is putting out 4 one-time brews for commemoration). The Tumbler sounds delicious, and I can't wait to try it.  But, I have problems with the timing of the release. Here are some:

1- This shipment came without specific order
2- If the Summerfest is gone, the I would like to replace it on my shelf with another summer style beer
3- While I don't personally let the seasons dictate my drinking choices, most customers are fine with it. One less summer beer on the shelf and customers tend to go elsewhere
4- If the Tumbler does not sell, and it won't, it will sit on the shelf taking shelf space
5- If it sits for a while, it will not be fresh. Does Sierra Nevada really want non-fresh beer to make it to consumers?
6- It's a waste of beer. It will be sent back in two months (September...still hot) .

This doesn't make sense to me.  I know it's hard to predict when to brew and release seasonals, but come on.  Why even make a seasonal if you don't have it during the intended season?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ticking, counting and beer numbers

On websites like and users can review beers they've tried and post them for all to see. Both websites keep track of the number of reviews for each user, and this number can be viewed by everyone on the site. This can lead to some users being motivated by 'struggle' to be the top reviewer, or more accurately, the reviewer with the most reviews.  The number of reviews gives a semi-accurate number of the number of beers a user has tried. Of course, not all people review each beer they actually try. Still, this counting can be annoying to some and the meaning of life to others.

Ticking is fairly similar, although instead of randomly trying a beer to review it and have your overall number increase, the 'ticker' has a list of beer to try (say, top rated American Double Imperial Stouts) and checks off each beer as it's tried. Each 'conquered' beer receives a tick next to it on the list.  As with counting, this ticking drives some beer lovers crazy.  But why?

One answer comes from those who detest turning beer into a means to an end. "Enjoy the beer not its number", is what they might say.  Others view 'ticking' as adding hype to certain beers that are rare for various reasons (one time brew, limited distribution...). This hype can tarnish reviews and reputation of these beers.

Tickers and Counters have their reasons; it's fun, keeps motivated to try new beers, provides marketing for brewers, etc.   Who's right? Well, first, who cares?  Both sides believe they are right, and the other wrong. It wouldn't make much difference to declare a winner in this debate.  Yet, I say they are both right and both wrong. Here's what I mean:

There are many aspects to beer that can be/are enjoyable. For me, looking at my total number of reviews on gives me a sense of adventure, "wow, I've traveled much in the beer world".  I don't strive for a mile-stone number, but I do recognize the current number.  I do keep a list of beers I want to try, but it's my own list, not a list of the Top 100 or Best 50.  I tick the beers from my list, which has rare beers, popular beers, beers from other regions and beer from certain styles I like.  By 'counting' and 'ticking' I have come to enjoy the beer, the allocation of beer, and the journey beer loving provides.  In the end, I don't really care how other people enjoy beer, just as long as they do.