Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Not a list.

Best thing about this year?  The end of it. Getting through it.

Anyone who has had as bad a year (or worse) than us, cheer up.  The next one will be better.
Or not, in which case -  at least we're in practice.

I should say that business-wise, and in spite of everything, it's been an excellent year. Well done you customers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Unique? Selling? Proposition?
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?

Friday, December 05, 2014


Lots of people chucking coriander in beer at the moment. Gose(s) (Gosen?), Wits, whatever.

There's a bit of a gotcha associated with this spice.  You see, there are two main varieties. A small seeded one and the other one.  Mainly grown in tropical and sub-tropical parts, the large-seeded has low levels of the essential oils you want in brewing.

Your small-seeded variety is the temperate plant. Pretty much. This is the one you want.  Unless you can see what you're buying,  look for a country of origin that isn't, say, Morocco, India or Australia. Check a map if your geography is a bit weak. There's some good small stuff grown in the Caucasus.  Confusingly, there's a large-seeded variety grown in Canada (on the praries).  More confusingly, there's a lot of variation in the large one. If you're interested you can weigh the seeds. Simply take a thousand seeds and weigh them. You probably want this to come out less than 8g. If it's only 5g it's deffo small. And you should get a life.

You'll find you need to use much less and the aroma will be finer.

Update: There's some stuff out there on the interwebs that's saying precisely the opposite to this.  And making out that the large seeded one is better for brewing.    Hmm. Best advice? Be aware that there's more than one kind of coriander seed and decide yourself which you prefer.

You probably don't want to buy ready ground coriander.  You don't know which one you're getting (but it's almost certainly the wrong one), how much of it is twigs, grasshopper heads, etc, or how old it is.

Another Update: Ah, now, I've had an opportunity to properly compare a small seeded with a large seeded sample. Both organic as it happens. I wasn't able to brew with them separately but I can report that (freshly ground) the small had more woody / camphor, whereas the larger one had more citrus. I couldn't smell any difference before grinding. So there you go. Be aware.