Friday, 23 April 2010

Brewdog Abstrakt 001. My experience.

Keg - The White Horse - 22nd April 2010 (Edit me if I am wrong, Tom) This is a stunner. The yeast strain is evident in epic poportions. The taste is mindblowingly good. The caramel body against the Westy yeast strain is just a tour de force for the sensors exploding around my head. This is a limited beer however one of the better English quad attempts I’ve had and a true abbot quad at that. This deserves special honourable praise for doing. There is the yeast strain which is paramount for this but the actual body and the beer itself is so good. The drinkabilitiy for a beer this aggressive is utterly insane. It is so drinkable. The alcohol is not over the top nad it is nicely measured so fantastic result. This a Brewdog special and damn I want more.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

World Beer Cup 2010 - kinda flawed if you ask me

After reading some forums on Rate Beer I found out the winners' list for the 2010 World Beer Cup. Now there are some excellent choices made such as Brewdog's 'Hardcore IPA', Second Edition, batch winning gold; Thornbridge coming second, Port Brewing doing well and some other notable micros doing well and most likely receiving a huge boost of media promotion for this event.

Now to enter your beer into this event you have to avoid shipping with the following: TNT; DHL or Fedex. This means if you are a certain position where you only have one distribution outlook such as only using DHL you are immediately withstricted from entering the competition so this could deduct some remote micros from taking part. Especially if they only know how to ship with those three major courier companies. There is a security warning issued which is irrelevant as ALL customs' inspections can withstrict your beer moving to the US.

So therefore it's completely irrelevant of which courier system you use. You may have a higher chance of being spotted out with these majors so as a safety pre-caution this could be why they are withstricting movement from those companies. I mean it is actually pot luck if you shipment gets spotted and stopped. Customs can hold items for as long as they like before proceeding with shipping. This is just a matter of life. Due to these holding reasons some micros may not even be able to get their shipment to the panelists for the event on time.

There are some fantastic entries and an oddly high number of styles. It seems to me that styles now are often being created to satisfy a gap. I mean 'Foreign Style Stout'. What does that mean? Stout was made in England and exported to Russian markets via the Baltic. So does this mean the style became foreign as soon as it was done somewhere else? Does an English entry under this criteria become obsolete due to history or is it from an American per-spective thus all non-American stouts are accepted under this entry? I don't understand this at all. Very confusing.

There are re-assuring styles such as German Style Marzen beers (which actually are just Marzen beers originating from Germany), Baltic-Style porter, session beer (no Brewdog's 'Sinck The Bismark' here I'm afraid), a fantastic entry called 'Gluten-free beer' and other traditional entries. This is sensible. However the obsurd is making it difficult for the brewer to truely label their favourite styles.

How are brewers supposed to advertise beer if it is too confliting with other brands? Surely their labelling may be conflicted by these new style standards. I mean look at Stone and Brewdog. They have a new collaberation stout (see and the blog section) however it is a golden colour and people may misslead it as an IPA. It's a very interesting situation which could get out of hand as the micro market expands and becomes even more confusing.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the way the winners have been announced. There are a substantial amount of micros I have not seen gaining gold so I will try my upmost to look out for them. After the judging from the American Beer Festival 2009 I purchased a crate of Port Brewing and received a crate of Lost Abbey for Christmas. I was extremely satisfied with those beers.

It shows that these competitions can create a media interest for these beers which you otherwise may only hear about during gathering at festivals. I am pleased that the list has projected some new micros on my radar which I can now seek out and attempt to import or buy if the retailers here can obtain them. Hopefully Beermerchants and Utobeer can acquire these micros in the future.

The other issue is what about the other beers that weren't selected? What about acquiring these beers? If I can't acquire these beers until I go to America then it will be difficult for the micros to gain the international exposure they need to gain a bigger market to sell more beers and to expand such as Sam Adams has done in Boston. They are still a micro but a huge one right now. Due to years of dedication and hard work. They are ocasionally miss-labeled as a macro which is a slang for a big major beer company for instance Coors; AB and INBEV.

If I ever get to taste these micros I will try and rate and review these. I am focusing on acquiring these even though the odds are stacked against me. It is pretty annoying that as a beer lover you have to get a plane ticket in order to purchase the beer. It is insane that a lot of breweries can't get their beer out due to tight customs' regulations. I believe that until this is loosened it will be incredibly difficult to acquire these special winning beers. I will wait until GBBF 2010 and see what develops. There could be some surprises. Last time I had a few American micros and De Molen managed to ship in two massive vessels. There is hope for us to try these beers.

Thesee awards are great but they do have their issues. I would like to be able to try these beers at places closer to home but this is a fantasy. I don't think we as a consumer market here will get to try the large proportion of beers in this cup. To have a cup of beers is a great idea but is there a knock out stage? Is it Scotland v Germany? Hardcore v Distelhäuser Frühlingsbock??

Does this work? Can you compete certain styles against each other in a pit of beer fuelled rage? Does the knockout mean you have to eliminate some styles in order to accomplish the greatest beer? How do you award this without including the greatest Trappists and other micros?

It is a great cup although with its flaws. I will try and discover and outreach if I can. I just think the odds are stacked against us with customs' influences; the premimum cost of importing these beers and the fact that the limited stock runs ala Russian River beers means it is all too difficult to do. Trading with likeminded indivduals at festivals and gatherings is my greatest hope but that's not the same as walking into a bar or a shop and ordering Russian River's Pliny like it's a session macro.

It could change the world for good but the macros are stacked up against the micros. To have these macros involved in this festival also means there is balance but on the other hand it would be better to promote more micros. The influences of American beer is still substantial in this festival. I would like there to be a better balance of other beers. Just look at the German category for example. Surely more German micros are out there and should be in the winnings' list??

Here is the table.

To view you require Adobe Acrobat.

Make your own conclusions; seek out and enjoy. It's a strong market and that's the best news for us consumers. To have your own cup with your own ratings' reviews and define your favourite beer. If you want it can also open up new avenues. How many styles can we have? How far does this take us with craft brewing? It's going to be an interesting future. Craft brewing is a massive consumer market and is only going to expand.


Monday, 5 April 2010

My Response to E-Bay Craft Beer Auctions' Complaints

I find the Ebay situation with alcohol rather frustrating. These people buy the small limited amount of beer at a local site then sell these bottles on at astronomical prices for a single unit.

They may use a gimmic such as free shipping but when the crate costs US $400 for this luxury then the gross profit is substantial. For instance Westy auction recently at this price. The crate costs 70Euros and a case to send costs E120 at least. So that's a MASSIVE profit.

If brewers want to make limited beers or different styles to test the market then it's their prerogative to do so. The brewer has to have a sustainable business. They have to sell beer at a certain amount to cover their costs. They have to function for the future and put money away for future investments.

If beer is all $3 yet the cost to make it is $5 then the brewery is making no money and will soon cease to function. It will become bankrupt. People are more concerned with saving some cash then ensuring their favourite brewery is making enough money to self sustain themselves. It is a free-market economy and ebay has its issues.

The prices that these beers go for are also at an extreme which is rediculas. The brewers don't make that money. The greed of the invididuals do. The reason why Struise is doing this auction is to reduce this affect.

The brewers at Struise are trying to ensure that the craft beer people like us are not being ripped off by Ebay sellers. The trick is very good. The Struise people can only release a certain amount of the beer at a certain time. They are doing this as a test.

It is rather sad that the Ebay situation which they are trying to help with has got out of hand. Carlo and Urbain are lovely people. I want to help them sustain their business and if people fail to see that ebay doesn't sustain their business and you can buy from them to help the Vleteren brewers' (plus whomever else) incomes then that is fantastic.

Remember that if a £10 beer has £2 profit margin and tastes amazing would you rather pay that out then pay £3 on a bland tasteless other alternative with a much higher gross profit? This situation will occur if people don't rise to paying a premium for their beer. We can't have brewers going out of business. We have lost too many great lambic brewers over the years. Education for good beer and sustainabily is vital for the craft world.