Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fruit Based Drink for the Lady?

After reading about recent attempts to persuade women into the world of beer on twitter; especially from two of our biggest ambassadors Kristy McCready and Melissa Cole, I could not resist my own two-penneth on the subject.

At the risk of over simplifying the issue, I think there are couple of key areas.

Awareness of the existing myriad of beer flavours
I know many women who love to drink proper beer, and are not bashful about pint glasses.  As it should be, but they are in the minority.  There are many beers on the market today which whilst not exclusively, in my experience seem to appeal to the feminine palate.  Saltaire Cheeky Kriek and Elderflower Blonde; Brewdog Tokyo* and Westmalle Triple stand out.  So we can clearly assume that our sister drinkers do not have a problem with the beer that is available, just lacking the chance to try some, or maybe the assurance that anything coming from a hand pull does not taste like the floor of a working men’s club.
A decent half pint glass
Let me say right away – this is not a desire to see a women’s glass, far from it.  I would love to see a vessel that anyone can really enjoy a half pint serving in.  The enemy is the highball glass, the half-sized straight-sided pint glass less so.

When trying to enjoy what you are drinking, I find it near impossible when drinking from a highball glass.  It is fine for spirit/mixer combinations, as that is what it was made for, but when trying to enjoy a double stout or Belgian style IPA by the half (as this is a civilised way to drink them) the pleasure of such beer is definitely diluted by the glass in which it is served.  Personally I ask for a Belgian beer glass (usually the Duval) to drink from for this kind of beer.  This simple change of receptacle makes a half pint measure much more pleasurable.  Both is terms of enjoying the aroma and taste of the beer; but also the tactile interaction with an interesting piece of glassware.

For more regular use I am somewhat fortunate that my local beer temple (The Swan Inn, Ulverston) has festival glasses as the default pint glass.  This offers marking for third, half and pint to line, and I often order half pints in this way and I know that my beer loving friends do appreciate and agree with me on this subject.

Pretty please, we do not need gaudy branding of “Beer for women” This is only an extension of some of the atrocities that have been committed by breweries already.

I could go on at great length (and often do) on this subject, so for more find an excellent piece by Jeff Pickthall here.

It can be hardly surprising that some women have an aversion to beer when it is marketed like this.  Personally I find it abhorrent.

In Conlusion
Women in pubs drinking beer?  More the merrier!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Take Pride In Your Work

In response to Jeff's blog about including presentation and design in the criteria for judging a beer: I think it is surely an unavoidable issue!

If your beer did not have a pumpclip / bottle label, would you sell any beer?

Having seen the pumpclips on offer from “the above link” I would not be surprised if your suggestion to judge branding would be dispatched with quickly, and likely with much coughing and averted gazes. Please, all brewers, you take pride in your beer: We love it as much as you do, we just need you to give us a reason to choose it!  Something about ships and 'apeths of tar springs to mind.
If branding and advertising were not important, why would the likes of Mr and Mrs Cola-Brand and “some ‘beer’ that is made from rice”, spend far in excess of the GDP of developing nations for an advert that runs once a year at the Super Bowl?  Why do people drink JD instead of Jim Beam? IMAGE.

It is little wonder that so many of our nations youth drown their hibernating taste buds in “fizzy yellow liquids”; alleged cider (it’s only cider if ‘concentrate’ does not follow the word ‘apple’); “all kinds of funny-coloured stuff in bottles”, when that is the only thing they know about!  It is a question of reputation and brand association.  Why do people drink the above mentioned sour mash whiskey?  Would it have anything to do with the fact that every true rock n roll hellraiser is seldom found without one pressed to their lips?

Why why why are so many craft/micro/larger-scale breweries sooo resistant to branding their product in a way that represents their product in the best way possible?  Is there *that* much money in brewing that this can be shunned as an irrelevant triviality?  Are pumpclips and bottle labels the exception that proves the rule that lines the pockets of the ad-men who sell C*****g and F*****s?

While I am on the subject; yes I would like to take the time to spell out the following…….. Tabloid-esque semi-puns and 12 year old playground humour are as much of a solution to branding as trying to use a kipper to unlock a door!  Please STOOOP!

*deep breath*

Is it really that much of an issue to take pride in the presentation of your beer?  You made it, and if you are not proud enough of it to give it a nice name and pumpclip/label design, how can you expect anyone to give it the time of day?

Regardless of your target market, beer tickers, beer geeks, Joseph T. Public or Saturday Nighters who are only in pursuit of the effect of alcoholic beverages, the companies who have done their research and commissioned a competent designer – paying for the privilege I must add – always, did I say ALWAYS?  Seem to have the longest brand retention with their target market, the highest sales figures and the widest distribution networks.  Red Bull anyone?

Vote: Pump Clip Parade as Official Watch Dog of Good Taste in Beer Land!


Thanks gang..... I feel better :)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

World Cup Beer Sweep

Right! Injury time effort to get my entry to the World Cup Beer Sweep sorted.

The rules: "...everyone gets drawn a team and they have to find a beer from that country then drink it and write a blog about it."

Blog about a beer... can't be that hard can it? All I need is a beer.... and a blog!

I was a late entrant into the beer World Cup Beer Sweep.. and some may say luckily I drew England in the second draw. <Insert joke about England winning the World Cup here!> So it all comes down to my blog entry!

First things first I need a beer from our fair country, and given the depth of knowledge and experience of the other entrants of the World Cup Beer Sweep, the beer better be a good one! Just any bottle will not do! There is pride

at stake here and being the littlest fish in the blog-o-sphere, I need to make it count.

How do I go about finding a rare and esoteric beer with sufficient geek appeal to impress the titans of the beer world who are competing and judging.

Finally the answer came to me! Something that no one else in this competition has ever tasted, something totally unique and individual. I refer to the latest edition to the epic bottled beer line up of my nearest and dearest brewery..... Hardknott!

If you have been lucky enough to get your hands on either of their

limited editions: The mind blowing Æther Blæk whiskey aged stout; or the colossal Granite barley wine, then you have some idea of the quality, individuality and shear abundance of tastes and flavours that they contain.

The latest behemoth to be caged in 500mls of quantum-particle-enriched, escape proof glass is the Infra Red IPA. On draught, it weighs in at 6.2%, it's bottle imprisoned sibling however, has taken things up a notch to 6.5%. Strange sounds have been heard in the hills around the Furness peninsular recently as the production run this monster IPA has been seduced into its bottles over the past couple of days.

Being a flatterer and a bounder, and also by assisting in the bottling process, gained me a test bottling of this beer. So with out further delay I will slip into my tweed safety suit (with the optional extra leather elbow patches), and don the reflective-protective goggles and open the bottle!

The first thing you notice about this IPA is that it is not pale! It has a deep cherry red colour and plenty of loose off-white head.

The initial smell is massively fresh and hoppy, floral notes with underlying malts, it hints at popcorn and caramelising sugars.

The flavouring is intense, with all the dials turned up to 11. Huge hops and fruit in mouth, sweet and full on, This gives way to a long smooth malty tones that blend into the finish with a little liquorish, and the kind of freshness you get from the salty air at the seaside. Really quite refreshing for a beer so strong and hoppy.

This is best served above fridge temperature, but not warm. The flavours evolve and grow as the beer gets itself comfortable in your glass.

If this bottled incarnation turns out to be anywhere near as bullet-proof as its cask-captured counterpart, it will age well. I know first hand that a cask will serve perfect beer after 13 days! So you might like to offer this monster a home in the darkest corner of you beer cupboard while you gather the safety clothing required for drinking.

It is a sessionable beer, if you are brave, I have tested this for you personally! All in the name of research you understand, but it looked beautiful in a two-and-a-half-pint stein!