Earlier this week I got into some nice discussions with people on Twitter. I know that many people don’t like the 140 character service and I get that, but I like it quite a lot for reasons beyond the scope of this blog. The topic in question was Sam Adams’ announcement of a ‘champagne-like’ beer.
There are a few quotes in there that resonate with me:
“Beer has all the same dignity and nobility that wine has, it just hasn’t been accorded the same level of respect — frankly because brewers haven’t treated it respectfully,” [Sam Adams founder Jim Koch] said in an interview. “Beer has been marketed with a lot of sophomoric humor and scantily clad women.”
“I’m basically just approaching this assuming that men and women both like things that taste good,” he said.
Amen to both of those. Though, good ol’ Jim and I disagree on a few points:
Firstly, I think that $20 for a 750mL is too much. Others disagree, including CBW’s own brewer Rudy. That’s fine; I understand that prices have on the whole been rising, and also that there are a number of high quality beers for a similar price that you can buy. I don’t have the ‘Sam Adams is big and sucks because of it’ bias that some do, but I would also prefer to buy a beer from The Bruery over Sam Adam’s any day. So maybe I am prejudice, a bit. Keep in mind that these are just the opinions of one man and not CBW as a whole.
As for changing or improving the image of beer, especially when compared to wine: on that I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve had a stick up my butt for some time now about the generally accepted notions that wine is high class and beer is blue collar. There’s nothing wrong with the working class, of course, but I would posit that there’s nothing wine can do that beer can’t. A specific example of this was when a good friend of mine told me that she thought that beer was for summer, wine for winter.
Porters? Stouts? Winter warmers? (Alternately, pinot grigio, chardonnay, soave)
I think the central issue here is that the wine movement has been going for some time more than the beer movement has, and so the ‘wine is a complex beverage to be enjoyed’ message has sunk into our collective consciousness already. Beer has only joined the fray relatively recently and so its time will come. And besides, there are some, like Dumbarton’s Beer, that don’t see a problem at all: ‘Beer doesn’t need to be like wine, champagne, or anything else.’ Right! Beer is not beer, or gin, or milk: it’s beer.
What gets me riled up, though, is the inevitable user comment on a post on a general interest site about beer: ‘beer is cheap stuff to get drunk on.’ It can be, sure. But — and I know I’m preaching to the choir here so I’ll try to be brief — it can also be so different from that as to be nearly a different entity altogether. It’s why I didn’t understand the outrage over Brewdog’s 18.2% Tokyo*: if you’re truly drinking to get hammered, are you going to spend Â£10 on a bottle of beer, or are you going to take a few shots of vodka? (or are you going to buy a can or two of goddamned Four Loko?)
Right, then. Our last stop on this odd exercise in stream of consciousness — or is it a series of commentaries on related topics? Choose depending on how full of crap you think I am — is the beer industry’s portrayal of women. This was brought about by a post at Zythophile about the UK chief executive of Molson Coors saying the industry needs to attract more women, and then also another post at Kegworks in response to their planned ‘beer for women’ campaign.
This has brought us around full circle, because the quotes from Jim Koch at the start of the post sum things up nicely: maybe, if you want more women to buy your product, you shouldn’t have your marketing be comprised mainly of that demographic in very little clothing? Bah. And yes, at the end of the day, I think that all things will be solved by two steps:
- Offer a quality product
- Keep doing #1, and eventually people will come around