Tuesday 12 March 2013

Being heard above the din

You know you’ve made it when you’re in FHM.

There are a lot of breweries in the UK now. Probably too many for them all to survive long term I’d suggest. The ones that do, who manage to keep their heads above water, are likely to be the ones that get noticed.

Making OK beer, in a shed, selling to local pubs is all very well, but that is no way to make a real viable business. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of reasons to support the little guy in a world where the vast majority of beer has little intrinsic value and is just mass produced, mass marketed blandness with more money going into glitzy advertising than into the actual beer itself. Power to that shed brewer.

It is unlikely that the strategy employed by many a microbrewer has a long term future. They may be able to rumble along. Perhaps even make a half decent living. It’s unlikely to be great, and certainly insufficient profit will be made to plough back for successful growth. But of course, for many brewers the satisfaction of brewing and getting paid for it is sufficient reward by itself. Nothing wrong with that.

Making great beer is a start. Beer that is about flavour and difference; Beers that stand out from the crowd and not just another bland offering barely better than mass produced predictability. Making noise is about variety, new flavours, challenges to pre-conceived ideas of what beer is about.

Once a brewer has made that great beer he must make the world aware of it.  It would be nice to think you could make lots of great beer, then just sit back for the orders to flood in. It is essential to make some noise, of some sort, somewhere.

So, that’s what we’ve been doing.  Making beers that are different, challenging, with lots going on in them. Some would say far too much going on in them sometimes.

And then we make a fuss. It doesn’t really matter what the actual fuss is about, just a little bit of nonsense to wake people up. Yes, perhaps sometimes it might seem like a child throwing a tantrum, but it sure gets everyone’s attention.

When I was a young man I became aware of the publication called FHM. Important people and trendy brands are the ones that get mentioned in there. I never dreamt I’d be responsible for an image, and be quoted in this glossy posh lads magazine1

But my beer, and some of my words are in April's edition.

Just because I didn’t get to be a rock star, silver screen actor or trendy business mogul doesn’t diminish my feeling of achievement for having made the grade along with the other craft brewers in the article2. I'm convinced that this has happened partly due to us making a little bit of a fuss every so often.


1We can't ignore the fact that it is quite legitimate to level an accusation of chauvinistic soft porn at the publication. I am torn on the issue of porn, mainly because I am a heterosexual male and I would be dishonest to the reader if I pretended that I found images of scantily clad women repulsive.

However, I do wish the beer was less masculine. For this reason I do have some reservations about the way that beer is more likely to feature in publications where the readership is predominantly male.

2Yup, I know there was a brewery that filled six pages. We all know who they are, so I’ll not mention them. In fact, I shall avoid comment other than to say they are proof to me of the point I’m making.


Cooking Lager said...

No photo of you with the scantily glad lovelies that decorate lads mags?

Unknown said...

No, nothing like that. A sad state of affairs. I shall set about changing that forthwith.

beersiveknown said...

I wonder how the beers were selected

beersiveknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yvan Seth said...

Yes, would be interesting to know who picked/suggested the beers.

Looking at that selection they could very well have asked me for a list! That probably goes for a good chunk of Twitter-residing "craft beer" geeks. It looks like a well considered sample - though I would say that... my core favourite UK breweries all seem to be there. ;)

Neville Grundy said...

I'm famous too: our local paper quoted my blog in an article - with a credit, for a change!

Unknown said...

To the best of my knowledge it was Ales by Mail that put up the list. Obviously I've no problem with the beers listed here.

Nev, it's always nice to get a mention in the local paper. I could be cynical and say that there is less money in printed publishing these days so hard pressed journos use online copy because they have less time to write their own. I've not got a problem with this as it generates me some economic PR for me.

unclepuble said...

At least they didn't ask for £500 + Vat to feature you in the magazine like Q have done for their April issue.