Thursday, 28 August 2014

Squiddy in a bottle

I like to mess around with beer concepts. Thankfully many of the beer enthusiasts I know are completely open minded about beer and will happily have a go at most things, at least once. But having been in the industry now for over 10 years it is obvious that many people see beer from a fairly narrow perspective. The most common comment I hear is "I don't like dark beers"

Hence my motivation for putting squid ink into a beer. We called it Squiddy, it's 3.8%, tastes very refreshing but has an interesting dark tinge to it.

I gave up a long time ago trying to pursued people from behind the bar that it is a silly notion to dismiss dark beers out of hand. Generally it only tends to alienate people. They know what they like and it doesn't matter how much I believe it's just their own preconceptions that drive their preference, telling a customer that they are silly and should just have a go will most likely loose a customer, rather than create a new beer connoisseur.

Digressing slightly, but I'm sure the reader will realise the relevance right away, I am a huge fan of the try before you buy principle. If you are a publican and are in the "I'm not giving away free beer" camp than think again. Trust me, if you do nothing else, look long and hard at your motivations. Giving people a chance to try a small sample gains their trust. It shows you care about what they think, and what they might like. Consistently and repeatedly, by giving a customer a chance to try a beer they have never tried before often creates a trust that drives sales. After all, a few millilitres of free beer isn't going to break the bank, and in my experience persuades the customer to stay and have another.

Dark beers are an example of this. When confronted with the unknown customers will generally gravitate to a safe zone. If asked to fork out perhaps £3 on something they are unsure about they will play safe. Pale beers are that safe zone for many.

We recently had a keg of Squiddy on the bar at Hardknott OnTrack. It created quite a stir with a few people. I think without tasters many would not have risked a pint, but once they tried it many said it tasted better than Lux, the beer it is based upon, and had a second, or third pint.

One of the reasons for brewing this beer is to show how colour can totally change perceptions of what a beer can taste like. Now, scientifically it is proven that even with completely flavourless colourings the perceived flavour is different. For instance red gives a perception of sweeter over green.

What baffles me is that a black coloured soft drink is incredibly popular amongst the general public, and yet dark beer generally isn't. The reason for making Squiddy was our way of exploring this a little further.

You can buy Squiddy at our on-line shop.

And you can watch the story of our collaboration with the Birmingham Beer Bash folks on our Vimeo pages.



Squiddy Episode One from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.


Squiddy Episode Two from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.


Squiddy ep3 from Hardknott Brewery on Vimeo.


4 comments:

StringersBeer said...

Mussels. That's what you want.

Anonymous said...

Guinness seems to do ok!

Dave Bailey said...

Stringers, Mussels? Hmmm, might work. Poor man's oyster stout perhaps? You could always then ask the barman to "pull a mussel"

Anon, actually, Guinness sales have dropped significantly in this country, Many pubs are pulling our fonts and installing these daft surge machines.

In my mind Guinness is part of the problem. Those who like it will drink it. Those who don't like it think that's what dark beer is all about, and nothing could be further from the truth.

An additional problem could be that many brewer's, myself included, have focussed on how to make a stout that is more "in yer face" than Guinness, further exacerbating the whole "dark beer is yuck" problem.

StringersBeer said...

Yep, Guinness sales aren't what they were, innit? Course, it's what people used to drink if they wanted something tasty (and actually bitter) when the beer choice was sh*te. I'd like to think it's a good sign.

Mussels, food of the future. Michael Moseley said so on Horizon.