Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The views on this blog are "entirely my own and not representative of anybody I work for"..............

I'm certainly not the first person to be upset by Roger Protz (if these comments on his recent Brewdog post are anything to go by) but his article for The Morning Advertiser has really wound me up.

Now if this was a corporate blog I'd probably say nothing as the "global giant" that bank rolls my mortgage comes out ok on balance but fortunately the views on this blog are "entirely my own and not representative of anybody I work for" so I feel more than comfortable saying the guy can be a dinosaur, the constant knocking of lager by the real ale brigade does more harm for the beer industry than good and it makes me really cross.

The particular quote that has me incensed is this.........
The global giants that dominate British brewing ought to get the message that consumers increasingly want to drink beer with taste, rich in malt and hop character, rather than bland industrial lager.
In typical Roger style there is no source to substantiate this claim and I would love to know how he can prove it. Indeed cask ale is in growth, as evidenced in this year's Cask Ale Report which is great news. But do we really believe that legions of lager drinkers have seen the error of their ways, slammed down their pint glasses and demanded a pint of Badger's Armpit - somehow I don't think so. I think cask ale has woken up to changing consumer habits and worked hard to recruit new customers into the beer category, as evidenced by the growing number of women trying cask ale.

But despite this growth in cask ale the harsh fact remains that total trade beer volume in the UK has been in general decline since the 1980’s and the short term trend has accelerated over the last 2 years with the ontrade beer category forecast to be down a further 2.8m barrels (15.6%) by 2012 (if you're wondering I can provide a source for this!!). Unless we collectively work as industry to get more people into the beer category and out of wine, spirits and cider that are all stealing our share of drinkers, the future for the beer market is not bright, so taking pot shots at different styles of beer needs to be a thing of the past.

I don't like cricket, does that make it a rubbish sport played by heathens? Am I a more refined and intelligent sports fan because I prefer tennis? I don't think so on either count so it's time to stop knocking mass lager brands, you might not like them but they wouldn't sell in the volume they did if they were all tripe - and lager drinkers wouldn't keep drinking it time after time if it tasted so bad. There are undoubtedlyy some bad lagers out there, Castlemaine XXXX was one of them which is why people didn't buy it and it had to exit the UK, but being big doesn't equal bad, it means you're accessible, reliable and lots of people like you - maybe if more of the real ale brigade woke up to this and worked together to promote beer generally the beer category could have a brighter future.


Curmudgeon said...

I think what Protz is trying to say is basically what Zak Avery says here:

For every beer geek blogging about something rare and virtually unobtainable, there are thousands of ordinary drinkers having a go on Grolsch Weizen or Fullers ESB bought in the supermarket. Of course, there are millions still louting it up, but there is a drift from one to the other, and I don't believe it's towards lout appreciation.

Total beer volumes may be down, but within that the tide is clearly flowing away from the heavily-promoted, mass-market lagers.

Kristy said...

Obviously I'm all for people moving towards Grolsch Weizen ;o)

I just don't get the expression 'louting it up', if you're drinking to get drunk surely a 4% lager is not going to cut the mustard? What is wrong with wanting a beer you can trust to be available and that tastes consistently good and I don't think the beer community should turn their nose up at it. If the tide is flowing away from heavily-promoted, mass-market lagers it's flowing into cider and wine in the main and us taking pot shots at each other isn't going to stop that happening

Cooking Lager said...

Don't let Protzy wind you up.The mans a cock. Lager is the most popular beer style in the world. In a global village you'd expect to find the lout anywhere in the world you go.

The beer nut says it best with the phrase "it is not a zero sum game". Protzy is wedded to the idea that you can force everyone to be a beardie weirdie and the lout is the enemy. Much of his type think that way. They are wrong, but it ain't illegal to be wrong.

Tandleman said...

I think the point Roger fails to make clearly enough is the difference between "lager" and bland industrial lager". there is a hell of a difference. He also should have said something along the lines of "an increasing number of consumers". Clearly as the Cookster says, that isn't the view of the majority.

Somehow though I doubt that Roger is in the majority in his thinking any more. In that Dear cookie is mistaken.

Lastly for Kristy, the more thinking of the real ale brigade are well aware of this, but of course I would say that wouldn't I, just as you'd say industrial lager has its merits?

Working together for "beer" is a lovely Utopian idea, but I'm betting a pound to a penny, it becomes easier to say that when you are sitting at the thick end of the volumes.

Kristy said...

I'm not sure I understand the difference between "lager" and "bland industrial lager" - is there somehow an assumption that lager stops tasting any good over a certain volume??

Curmudgeon said...

Surely the difference lies in process and quality of ingredients, not in scale of production.

Augustiner Helles and Magor-brewed Stella are both pale lagers of around 5% ABV, but there's no doubt one is a far better beer than the other.

Tandleman said...

Kristy - I think you possibly do actually. Anyway I didn't say "is there somehow an assumption that lager stops tasting any good over a certain volume??" - you did. My context was the Protz article and what he might have said to make his case more appealing. The broader argument is an interesting one too of course.

In case you really don't understand a difference, a further example might be that John Smith's smooth and Thornbridge are both ales. But they ain't the same beast.

Mudgie has explained it I reckon.

Cooking Lager said...

Mudgie once posted a link on his blog tonthe CAMRA forums. You had to sign up to the forum in order to read it though you don't have to actually pay the shilling to join.

Have a read of it, there are more Protzy style nutters moaning about chemical piss than those with the more articulate views of either tandy or mudgie.

Ricky English is always a good laugh.

Barm said...

I will continue to "take pot shots at different styles of beer" because those styles of beer are what has convinced millions of people that they'd rather drink wine or spirits. You're not going to tempt anyone back to beer with the same stuff that they ran away from in the first place.

Tandleman said...

"Have a read of it, there are more Protzy style nutters moaning about chemical piss than those with the more articulate views of either tandy or mudgie."

That isn't representative any more. Sure on these forums you'll get the nutters and die hards. Dickie English being the best example I know of. He may well be a CAMRA member, but he speaks only for himself. I've only ever heard of him on these kind of things.