Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The Grauniad Dibnukeng Bree Mthys

It's been a little while since I've blogged so apologies if you've been waiting on tenterhooks for my latest musings - you can now breathe again.

Inspiration was brought to me today by Felicity Cloake  who is debunking beer myths over at The Guardian. Obviously not as big news as Cheryl Cole finally seeing sense and dumping the awful Ashley but still caught my eye nevertheless as a lot of it is things I spend my whole days talking about.

The first thing that Felicity challenges is that all beers are the same, and for me this is a key education point for women if we want to encourage more of them to drink beer. When women say that "I don't like beer", I think what they really mean is that "I don't like the beers that I've tried" which in the main will probably be Becks, Bud, Carling, Fosters and Corona, probably all badly served warm in an ugly glass and this has shaped their view of the whole category. 

Challenge is that how do you say to women "well have you tried ALL beers" without sounding like an arse but I'd love women to realise the wealth of beer styles and flavours on the market, there's over 2,500 beer brands available in the UK, you'll find one you like if you're prepared to try a few and experiment. And trust your own instincts, if you like something that's ok, whatever the pongy ale drinkers might tell you, or as Felicity puts it;
Don't be fooled into believing that ale is always better either: whatever the folks at the Campaign for Real Ale say, handcrafted lagers are making some headway in this country.)
Something tells me that she's not making a case for Carling drinking but I do love the fact that she's recommending all beer styles - a lady after my own heart!! Interesting to read one of the commenters taking umbrage at the suggestion that lager is a beer, somewhat proves the point and as I've mentioned more than once before I'd love to see that kind of attitude leave the beer market. 

One thing I see on a regular basis is that there just  isn't enough information about beer on offer in bars which puts people off ordering it, especially women, and doesn't help break the myth that all beers are the same. I would love to see beer menus in pubs and descriptors on the shelves in the beer aisle. Or maybe just make the beer aisle a nice place to be - the wine aisle in your supermarket is a nice place to shop, it's interesting, the wine is stocked in a way that helps you make informed choices, and there's recommendations - wine of the week, what goes with food. But you swing your trolley round into the beer aisle and suddenly you're in a dirty warehouse packed high with big boxes of beer - no wonder you don't see many people browsing there, it's hardly an inviting place to spend time. 

But it could be, it's not rocket science, it happens all the time in the wine aisle, if we just invested a little more care and time in showing beers in their best light, highlighting different flavours and styles seems like a really simple way to get more people trying more beers.

I guess there's a real learning for beer marketeers, wine didn't become so popular by chance, as an industry they've worked hard at it, maybe we should steal a few things..............


Curmudgeon said...

In the supermarkets I frequent, the big packs tend to be piled at aisle ends, so the beer aisle is just a display of normal bottles and four-packs. However, there is a distinct lack of tasting notes or any kind of "Beer of the week" promotion - beer seems to be expected to sell itself.

But, compared with wine, I think to a much greater extent beer buyers just go for what they normally buy rather than being interested in trying something different.

And, being honest, even as something of a "connoisseur", the main thing that is likely to influence my purchasing decisions is if something within the range of beers I might buy is on offer.

Bebedores do Gondufo said...

Good blog.

Kristy said...

Beer does seem to be left to sell itself which is a real shame - especially since most supermarket beer is bought by women (about 80%) so in the main they buy on price because they've nothing else to go on.

I love trying new stuff and love a recommendation but rely on you guys for that and then go and find it - my local supermarket is no help

Woolpack Dave said...

I think you are doing a disservice to the on-trade and to the cellar technicians who the big lager producers send to fix the dispense equipment. We used to get stuff of Coors and their technician man was great. I've always found them to be spot on. Warm lager indeed! It fobs like mad if the cooler isn't working.

Ugly glasses, now there you have a point.

Most importantly we really should stop trying to say that a particular style or method of dispense of beer is not worthy. Equally, despite actually being a great fan of the pint, we should allow beer a bit more freedom to express itself in terms of dispense volume and ABV.

I still can't defend Carling though.........

Curmudgeon said...

Dispense volume is (rightly) governed by law, though, Dave. Or are you championing the twother? ;-)

WV = nonsms

Cooking Lager said...

How exploding the myth that beer makes me wittier, more charming and more attractive to the lasses?

mike said...

Great point about the marketing of beer in the store. I couldn't agree more. If I go the video store there is always an "Employee Suggestions" area. Same with the wine, like you said. I think that is a great idea for the beer section. I don't get why stores don't do stuff like that. They probably make more money off of a craft beer than of a case of Bud Light. I could be wrong though, maybe they just want to sell a crap load of well, crap.

The other night I was at my store though and I was heading out of the beer aisle and I saw a nice stand with these large bottles and a big sign. It was for a couple new brews from Boulevard. They come in these champagne like bottles with wire tops and corks. I took what I had in hand back and picked up a couple of those.

Marketing...gotta love it.

Good post!

Mike's Brew Review