Friday 29 July 2011

This is NOT anti-CAMRA

This is NOT anti-CAMRA, it's just against the facade of traditional Real Ale as a means of selling beer. How many times have we heard "brewed using traditional recipes, English barley and English hops" and we find that the beer is anything but inspiring. It might be cheap. It might be a brand name that has been around for decades, but no one deserves to be able to sell beer that fails to inspire. Cask, keg, chill filtered and bottled or properly bottle conditioned, we love them all providing they have some flavour.

We think the brand group of Real Ale is looking tired and old. What the alternative is for the 21st century we don't know, perhaps just good beer.

Meanwhile we've been busy making some video. When I get some time I'm going to blog about the making of this.

Hardknott Beer from PiciFilms on Vimeo.

Music, incidentally, is composed by me and almost entirely performed by me. @WithoutaVision did the hitting things with sticks.

Cast is:
@BarmanAlex soon to be @HardknottAlex


Ed said...

Blimey Dave, how old is that harness?

Unknown said...

Ed, I suspect quite old. Perhaps as much as 20 years. I've looked after it, although it has been to some interesting places.

Neville Grundy said...

Change the record, Dave; I think it's you who's getting old and tired. Real ale is the sector of the beer market that has been least affected by the current recession; all other types have suffered greater declines. Not bad for an old and tired product.

You're wrong: real ale isn't a brand - it's a description. I know you're into the tiny niche market of so-called "craft" keg, because you want to be a brewer at what you think is the cutting edge of things, but why can't you praise "craft" keg without slagging off real ale?

What you brew is your own business, but just writing, "This is NOT anti-CAMRA" doesn't disguise the fact that you are seriously disaffected with CAMRA policy. You've made it clear previously that you believe CAMRA is wrong not to embrace the kind of keg beers you want to brew. As you should know, the Campaign for REAL ALE cannot endorse beer that fails 100% to meet the definition of real ale. Like it or not, that's a fact, and the pragmatic thing in life is to live with facts, not whinge about them.

Haven't you noticed that most beer sold in this country has ALWAYS failed to inspire? Ever since CAMRA was formed, and I remember that happening, there has been an acceptance that "real" does not automatically mean "good". This isn't news: there have always been boring real ales, probably ever since beer in its modern form was first brewed around 300 years ago, and definitely since I began drinking 40 years ago. If this "craft" keg thing does take off, I fully expect there will boring keg beers that fail to inspire too; I'm sure you'd agree that keg status would be no guarantee of quality.

If you want to push craft keg, good luck to you, but I don't recall ever seeing you do so positively. It's usually by negative comments about real ale, as in this post. Negatives are not good marketing strategies - you should be saying your preferred product is good, not that other products are, in your words, old and tired.

Double Diamond was a very successful keg brand in the 60s: they sang, "A Double Diamond works wonders". They didn't sing, "Your local regional beer is old and tired."

BeerReviewsAndy said...

hahahahah Dave all is now clear!

the look on JP's face throughout its brilliant!

nice to see the whole hardknott gang involved and looking like they were having some fun...I'll be gutted if you don't crash through the roof at the next beer festival I'm at.

look forward to the blog!

Phil said...

+1 to RedNev.

I think the power of the 'real ale' definition is precisely that it doesn't correspond with 'good beer'. With a few exceptions, CAMRA supporters & members aren't saying that all good beer is real ale and all real ale is good beer. What we're saying is that real ale is generally a good thing to have - it's almost always better than the alternative.

If you're going to fly the flag for some other definition of high-quality beer, that's exactly what you'll need to have - a definition. Otherwise you're just doing a BrewDog - i.e. creating a spurious controversy in order to shout about how great your beer is.

Love the beer, mind you. (BD do some good stuff, too.)

John Clarke said...

Not anti-CAMRA? Really? With all that imagery? You know what they say - if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Think I'm with RedNev and Phil on this one.

Saga Of Nails said...

I have never tried your beer, and look forward to doing so, but this advert has actually put me off doing so a little bit. Your presentation of wares on the bar looked just as universal and generic as the four cask handpulls did, and is exactly what I am trying to get away from when I visit a pub.
I know the video and song is a lighthearted viewpoint of the current drinks scene, but I still did manage to get ever so slightly offended by the lyrics of the song. I don't really like being called slow or full of fail because I don't actually like many cold, fizzy drinks.

Saga Of Nails said...

I oughtn't get even slightly offended at things which are clearly meant to be lighthearted though. I will try your beer sometime.

Cooking Lager said...

Can be in the sequel? Any part will do.

StringersBeer said...

You've still got all that link spam.

Unknown said...

Sorry I haven't replied to these rather long comments.

But I repeat, this is NOT about anti-CAMRA or even pro-keg.

Yes, I have always agreed that cask beer is worth supporting, but despite "Real Ale" having a definition most off-licences, for instance, will refer to chill filtered beer, of poor quality, awfully branded beer as "Real Ale" the public generally don't understand what "Real Ale" is and as I have argued many, many times a lot of cask beer is not "Real Ale" by the definition given by CAMRA. It continues to irritate me that this fact is not acknowledged. Just because it is in a cask does not make it real, just because it is in a keykeg does not stop it being real.

Just because it is in a poorly branded bottle made by a brewer who happens to also make cask beer in a shed does not make that bottle real either.

Every single bottled beer I make is bottle conditioned. I do not think putting on the bottle "CAMRA says this is Real Ale" will help the sales of my bottles. This fact is sad and might be worth looking at.

Yes, I intend to expand my keg offering, but unlike other brewers I am not intending to reduce my cask offering either. The fact that this sort of marketing grows a brewers business much faster than banging the "Real Ale" drum is something that will only create more of this sort of thing and objecting to brewers who do simply feeds the success in my view.

What this is about is my determination to distance my beer, which remains mainly cask, from the word "ALE" - it's an awful word that conjures up old-fashioned ideas and bad branding.

But there are other more subtle messages in my film, we thought a lot about it and I'd like beer supporters to realise that.

John Clarke said...

"What this is about is my determination to distance my beer, which remains mainly cask, from the word "ALE" - it's an awful word that conjures up old-fashioned ideas and bad branding"

I think you might be off-beam with that one Dave. Robinsons have recently carried out a great deal of market research and one of the things that came out loud and clear was that the term "ale" had far more resonance and appeal with younger drinkers than did the word "beer".

Food for thought perhaps?

Unknown said...

John, if Robinsons and Hardknott chase the same demographic then we are directly competing. I don't want to compete with Robinsons or many of the other "Real Ale" breweries. I hear people all the time extolling the virtues of Ale and carefully listen to their beer aspirations. You are right, those sorts of people would probably prefer Robinsons to my beer. That's fine, I wish Robinsons all the success they can get.

There is a demographic that is different. I'm after that demographic.

John Clarke said...

I think you might be missing the point here. You have suggested the term "ale" is an awful word that conjures up bad branding etc. All I am saying is that the Robinsons market research found that exactly the type of person you are aiming at (and which they aspire to aim at) found the word "ale" has positive rather than negative connotations.

Saga Of Nails said...

I like the word ale. Beer is a generic term that can encompass everything from nasty Eurofizz to cask ale to craft beers and world beers. Ale is a more narrow, specific term. When you talk about beer, you can be talking about almost anything.