16 February 2010

Beer "Strength War" Gets Idiotic

No, wait.  It was already idiotic.  This just pushes it even further.

The Morning Advertiser, a British alkie-trade paper, brings us the latest round of what I have openly called before this latest round a ludicrous, attention-seeking, almost childish game of "comparison of certain male bodily appendages for the sake of ego gratification"--only now they're way too far into the use of various things for which we used to get advertising spam e-mails on a routine basis:

Controversial Scottish brewer Brewdog has reclaimed the title of world’s strongest beer from its German rivals.
German brewers Schorschbräu briefly held the record after releasing its 40% Schorschbock just two weeks ago, taking the record off Brewdog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin.
Brewdog has now hit back with a 41% abv quadruple IPA called Sink the Bismarck!, priced at £40 [$65] for a 330ml [11.2 oz.] bottle and is only available from the brewer’s website.
The brewer has been fighting a running battle with drinks industry watchdog Portman Group and health lobbyists over the strength and packaging of its beers.
“As a company responsible consumption and better education about beer is ingrained in all we do,” said co-founder James Watt.
“Beer has a terrible reputation in Britain, it’s ignorant to assume that a beer can’t be enjoyed responsibly like a nice dram or a glass of fine wine. A beer like Sink the Bismarck! should be enjoyed in spirit sized measures.”

From their website/blog:
This is IPA amplified, the most evocative style of the craft beer resistance with the volume cranked off the scale. Kettle hopped, dry hopped then freeze hopped for a deep fruit, resinous and spicy aroma. A full out attack on your taste-buds ensues as the incredibly smooth liquid delivers a crescendo of malt, sweet honey, hop oils and a torpedo of hop bitterness which lasts and lasts.

If you need a laugh:

Sink the Bismarck! from BrewDog on Vimeo.

Seriously. These blokes are making Stone Brewing, or even Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head, look like a bunch of uptight slackers, both in the brewing and publicity department. (Though, truth be told, American brewers are expressly prohibited by Federal law from using the same freeze-distillation techniques exercised by BrewDog and Schorschbrau.)

So are we going to keep buying all this blather and bottles?  Frankly, I don't even want any more of this stuff.  I'll sample it if the opportunity arises for cheap or free, but right now we're just being ripped off--come on, admit it, we're being played--and the beer geeks that buy into this stuff are doing it for the same damned reason that they brewers are making it: bragging rights.  Next, the Swiss or Japanese will counter with something with 42%, BrewDog will counter with some 43% concoction, and we'll keep shelling out big bucks just so we can say "we tried the shit stuff and you didn't, nyaa nyaa nyaa".  I mean, I liked what I've sampled of Sam Adams' extreme beers, but there's no way in HELL I'm paying that kind of money.  Period.  (But at least the Scots didn't put $60 worth of product into a $50 bottle like Sam Adams did with Utopias......)  I believe I have a bottle of DuClaw Colossus calling me instead.......

In OTHER (and more relevant) news from BrewDog, the brewery has reformulated one of its previous "publicity-gimmick" beers for 2010. Last year's batch of Nanny State, a 0.5% ABV concoction with an alleged 225 international bittering units, was an apparent one-off response to negative reaction the previous record-setter, their 18% imperial stout Tokyo (now imported to the States under the name "Tokio" and on shelves in Maryland as we type). The name has been revived for 2010 for an 0.5% (functionally "non-alcoholic") malty "West Coast inspired" pale ale with only 45 IBUs. (Whether the West Coast in question is North America or Scotland has not been answered by the brewers, and is apparently left open to interpretation, though with "centennial, amarillo, columbus, cascade and simcoe and intensively dry-hopped with centennial and amarillo" in the description, it's a safe guess they mean West Coast North America......)


Caederus said...

at 41% theses things are getting into the realm of distilled spirits. At a $60 a 330ml price point it would have to be as good as it not better than The Macallan 21 I enjoy.

Brad said...

As I said in my reply to your comment (http://beerinbaltimore.com/2010/02/16/and-the-new-abv-king-is) - it's only beer!

These small breweries have no marketing budget. So for them to make world headlines like this, more power to them.

We recently updated our post (link above) to include a hilarious video. Well, hilarious to most of us ;)

Brad said...

Personally, I think it's more about getting the brand name out there than it is about the actual beer itself.

The Oriole Way said...

Of course this is pure publicity seeking. But, then again, so was Baltimore Beer Week. And that's the whole point. Small brewers don't have access to the mass media channels that ABInBev and CoorsMiller do; they have to be creative to reach a large audience. Hence, one-ups-manship and ridiculousness to promote the "innovation" your brewery is known for, or banding together in an attempt to grow the market as a whole.

As for your complaints about the cost of the Sam Adams; don't buy it. You're a free markets person, so if Sam Adams is charging what the market will bear, you should be applauding them. They have no responsibility to sell their product at some cost-plus price in order to make it affordable to the mass beer geek market.

Brad said...

Exactly. It's only "idiotic" if you spend time caring about it. They're doing one hell of a job marketing themselves.

Sure they're more mainstream beers aren't the best, but I bet they're now selling much better than a similar-sized US craft brewer like, say... Arcadia; who is putting out the same amount of mainstream beers, similar quality. It's all about the marketing. And with close to a $0 budget, I applaud BrewDog for what they've been able to do.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

TOW, your remarks are valid. But there is also a problem in all the publicity going into "gimmick" beers: the great-but-relatively-average-by-comparison stuff by not only that brewery, but also that by other breweries of that ilk, gets pushed out of the limelight. Dogfish Shelter Pale Ale, Chicory Stout, and 60-Minute IPA get shoved aside for the latest esoteric-ingredient or how-much-can-I-cram-into-one-bottle Dogfish beer, which itself gets shoved aside six months later for the next one (heard much about Midas Touch or Raison d'Etre lately?). Williams Brothers in Scotland does a world-class Midnight Sun and Joker, but all you've ever heard about is Fraoch Heather Ale, Kelpie, and the other "historic recipe" beers they do.

If the headlines are only garnered for the more outlandish, envelope-pushing beers, that's all that "microbrews" or the craft beer movement gets associated with in the eyes of the public. If we're trying to wean the public away from frozen grocery store pizzas or English muffins with ketchup, American cheese, and sliced hot dogs, we have to do it with good, plain ol' pizzeria pizza or Pizza Hut. THEN, maybe we can hope to get them to try that buckwheat-crust, goat-cheese, smoked-tomato and curried-yak-sausage pizza.

To quote Lew Bryson, "Good God, MUST we be hit over the head by a beer to like it? Are we cartoon cavewomen?? I like getting hit over the head by a beer occasionally. But I do not think that such beers are necessarily superior by virtue of their power. I think they are interesting, much like a hurricane happening somewhere else."

He said that back in 1992 or thereabouts. Have things changed that much? Not really.

Brandon Miller - Milhouse44 said...

I think their videos are hilarious.
It might be the highest alcoholic beverage produced through Condensing/distilling a beer, but that’s about it. I think the record for A BEER should be intact.

stevejones said...

Check out http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/2590028
I think you'll find it interesting.
Personally I applaud their attitude.

Unknown said...

Like always, LOOSEN UP. You may have fun.