Selasa, 10 September 2013

From Draught to Craft


This blogger is not a beer drinker.. He is therefore completely ignorant of the niceties of beer and therefore eminently qualified to comment on developments in the beer industry.

In many countries in the world, people, especially men, gulp down enormous quantities of beer. Most of it is mass produced by the beer giants of the world - Diageo, Anheuser Busch, SAB Miller, Heineken and the like, including our own home grown United Breweries. Bottled or canned beer is by far the largest selling channel for beer - the one that keeps afloat the likes of Diageo, et al. But nuanced beer drinkers consider this somewhat of a travesty in beer drinking - apparently they have no taste. Hence the onset of draught beer which is served out of cask or a keg. Go to a pub  and barmaid will pour out a pint of draught, topped with a nice head. This blogger has a partiality to buying rounds for whoever he is with - not to taste the subtleties of the draught but to ogle at the barmaid - who is invariably pretty and used to men ogling !!!

But apparently even draught is "rubbish" to a true connoisseur (can such a specimen exist ?) Enter craft beer., something this blogger had not heard of before and hence this post. Craft beer is apparently produced by microbreweries -  small independent breweries and supposedly offer great quality, taste and variety. They have to be small - no giant multinational can qualify to make and sell craft beer. Craft beers have evidently loyal clientele and apparently possess great virtues of taste and subtlety.

If this is so, then this blogger was surprised to read that Jim Koch , the owner of Boston Beer with the famous Sameul Admas brand has become a billionaire. Good to see an entrepreneur succeed and become a billionaire, but since when has a billion been "small".  Apparently craft beer has been taking the American beer market by storm. Considering that every individual who can, does drink beer by copious quantities in that country (remember six pack was originally a concept of a carton of beer, before abdominal muscles usurped the term), you would expect the market to be flat, if you will pardon the pun. The overall beer market indeed is, declining by some 2%. But craft beers are growing by 15%. Thank you very much.

Perhaps there is a growing consumer fatigue with mass produced, similarly bland tasting food that the large food and drinks behemoths make. For improving margins, they have continued to chip away at quality and ingredients. That food is cheap, but perhaps far too much liberties have been taken in terms of customisation and taste. In many segments, the small food maker has started to grow. Just goes to show that the food industry is one of the most difficult to standardise and globaliise, for we will always have different tastes and demands. Even Nestle, the world's largest food company has a market share of less than 5% of the overall food market.

So craft beer it is. If you are in the US, go for Sam Adams. If in the UK, try BrewDog's fancifully named Hello, My Name Is Beastie. There are a couple of beer connoisseurs amongst this blog's readership. Learned comments and sneers are welcomed. This blogger is happy to buy them a round, for he rather fancies the barmaid !

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