It's about beer, well mainly anyway. Beer brewing, beer drinking, beer marketing and the retailing of beer.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
A bit of quality
As readers might know, I've been playing a little at putting my ale in keg. I'm not doing it to try to reduce my cask sales or in any way to undermine the great reverence that cask deserves. For whatever reason there is a section, even now, of my customer base that does not like cask ales. Some of course drink wine, others drink spirits, some might even be teetotal, but some like to drink beer that is not cask.
Two years ago we decided to remove all major British keg brands from our bar. A bold decision that I'm pleased about. We used to sell a brand of standard "lager" as well as a "premium" product from the same stable. We also sold Guinness, which the sales rep very thoughtfully told us we'd be better off not selling as the throughput was too low. We are very proud to have 85%+ sales of cask beer as a total of our draft sales. We sell a very low volume of keg.
If I'm on the bar and I get asked for a lager I give a taster of my own keg and a taster of something else. Fair enough sometimes I loose, but often I don't. I get lots of compliments from people on how nice my "lager" tastes, despite it not being lager. I've given up telling people that it's not actually lager, because most start to go glassy eyed once I start.
It may be true that people are being polite when they say they like my beer. Indeed, it is interesting how many people walk to the bar and say "It would be rude to come here and not try your own beer" I often reply that they should drink what they want. After all, I only have to buy other peoples beer, brewing my own results in me doing even more hours for less than minimum wage. In any case, I do think there is genuine appreciation, which regularly makes my day.
My keg beers do not compete with my cask beers. If somebody wants cask then that's what they buy. It does however make some keg drinkers realise that there might be more to beer than cask, smooth, lager or Guinness, which of course there is, but not terribly available in this country. I rather think it might make some habitual keg drinkers think about cask.
Jeff Bell talks about Adnams Spindrift. Although I've not tried it myself, I don't think that it would be much different to my kegged version. Jeff seems indifferent to the product. I think it is a way of enlarging the quality beer market rather than competing with cask or lager. Why not? I'm probably going to continue with the concept, the trouble is the keg the beer is in right now is on loan, so I need to spend some money on some kegs of my own. Ann looks after the money. Time to grovel I expect.