"Thing is, making beer is easy."
He knocked his glass emphatically against the looming t-bar. Ignoring the gaffer's raised eyebrow he slurred on,
"This stuff, all this lit-up bollocks, all this marketing shite, dressing it up. There's nothing to making beer. Piece of piss. Easiest job I ever had. I mean, what do we do? It's just cooking isn't it? Not f-ing haute cuisine. Big pan of veggie soup is all. My gran used to make yoghurt in her airing cupboard. Same thing really. Rubbish at cakes. Lovely pastry. Shortcrust. Makes you wonder how so many people fuck it up. Other hand, some of it is on another fecking level."
A misdirected press release marked "for the attention of lazy churnalists" came to our attention recently. "We plan to market our beers as great tasting craft beers" said PR hack Billy Bigarms, "I've been doing this kind of shit for years, talking up useless dreck, and kissing the arses of absolutely anyone who might get me ahead" "Friends?" He laughed, "I have no friends, but I've made loads of contacts over the years. I suppose you could call me a psychopath - Don't get me wrong, I'll do a favour for anyone, anyone who can scratch my back in return!" Billy's partner, 198-year-old virgin's blood bather and corporate vampire Trisha Alucard nodded, "There are many people who owe us favours. It's time for us to call some of those favours in. For instance, we have people who will make the beer for us, but frankly, that's a detail." "Brewers and consultants are ten a penny. We may buy them, or, if it amuses me, I'll turn them." She laughed, "No, but seriously, I have access to capital sources that most start-up businesses couldn't even dream of." She paused and the point of her tongue touched her perfect teeth for a heartbeat. "We will, of course, be crowdfunding, not so much for the money, but more to give the cattle an opportunity to invite us in, as it were."
Go on, you know you want to. Comments are open.
Referring to this of course. But if there's anything you'd like to get off your chest, to my face (well, virtually) go for it. It'll be good for you. "Better out than in", my Grandma always said.
A while ago the mighty zythophile was able to clarify: "historically, to say roast barley is a differentiator between porter and stout is wrong".
Of course, "historically" there's a great deal of truth in that. Naturally, it depends what you mean by "historically", but we'll let that stand. But what about non-historically? Or, as we might say, "now".
It occurred to me that I had an interesting reference staring at me from a bookshelf in the office. To wit; CAMRA's "Good Bottled Beer Guide" (Update: Jeff Evans's, I should say). This doesn't list every stout and porter currently brewed (or even at the time of publication), and of course it's only British beers, but I feel it's an interesting selection. What's particularly valuable is that it lists ingredients for most of the beers it covers.
How many beers are there that we can be sure the brewers are calling stouts and list their ingredients?
Let's have a quick look... 29 stouts, 21 with roast barley.
Also... 15 imperial stouts, 13 with roast barley.
And the "porters"?
Er... 23, 5 with roast barley.
There's a handful where it's hard to tell if they're being thought of as a stout or a porter. And a couple explicitly referred to as sort of hybrids (both contain roast barley, FWIW).
So let's consider the incidence of roast barley in stouts v. porters.
Imperial Stouts: 87%
Other Stouts: 72%
All stouts: 77%
So, you pick up a bottle conditioned stout, it's more than three times as likely to have been made with roast barley than a random porter. That's to say, the majority of stouts are made with it (based on this selection), while the majority of porters exclude roast barley.
Now you might argue, as does Mr Cornell, that this distinction has no "historic validity", and you'd have a good point. You might even choose to stress that here we have "beers being called porter" rather than the true descendants of historical porters. But you know, history tells us mostly about change. And clearly, now isn't entirely like then was.
A diachronic approach to the "porter" / roast barley question? Or a synchronic one? As someone who brews beer nowadays, it's quite clear:
What's the difference between most modern, British stouts and porters? Well for one thing, and much more often than not, the use of roast barley.
News just in. Optimists trying to raise funds for a GF (only?) brewery. Good for them, I say. I'm all for optimism.
We all bandy around the term USP like we know what we're talking about, but let's examine this one.
UK's First Gluten Free Brewery. Well, bless them, they wouldn't be. Of course. There's lot's of breweries making GF beer. Ah, perhaps they mean that they would be the first brewery making nothing but GF beer. If you ignore the tiny brewery that's already doing it. And if they raise the funding to, you know, actually open a brewery. So, their (not quite unique) proposition is something like:
Buy our GF beer. At some point in the future we will make only GF beer. Unlike pretty much everyone else, we think.
Fine, but is this a selling proposition? Only time will tell of course, but I suspect most of their customers will be focusing on product rather than brand attributes. i.e. the gluten-freeness of the beer, not the brewery. Unless, as was pointed out to me on the twitter, "even tiny contamination could be an issue". Is that a real issue? Or is it just FUD? Or bullshit, even?
Course, nowadays the whole USP idea is old hat. In a dynamic market, differentiating yourself by "uniqueness" is problematic. Unless you've got well-protected intellectual property what's to stop someone doing the same thing? And if no-one does do the same thing, doesn't this imply they don't think it's much of a selling proposition?
I suppose the question becomes: Is a beer easier to sell by virtue of being made in a facility that only makes GF products? Or is it better to have GF products as part of a wider, established portfolio? Which plan would you lend money on?
This is Jon's personal "blog" - I work at an independent microbrewery (a small-scale, artisanal producer of “real ale” and other beery treats), based in the Furness area in Cumbria (or N. Lancs if you'd rather). Or a "Craft Brewer", if you like. We're known as "Stringers", or "Stringers Beer". I don't just make beer - I also sound-off in half-informed rants on a variety of subjects. Like here.