Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Session #56 - The Round-up

Wow! Just wow. When I picked this topic, I thought it would attract less beer writers to participate considering that saying thanks to a macro brewery is anathema to many. I had no idea that I would get so many responses, which in turn means I had so many blog posts to read , some of which I have never encountered before. 19 blog posts later (20 in total), and many hours sitting reading and summarising and not to mention a few beers later, I am finally ready to post the round-up (I did the summaries before the intro). I hope I got them all, if anyone was left out then please contact me ASAP so I can correct the oversight. It looks like I was left out of the round-up for Session 55 so these things do happen I'm afraid.

Phil, author of Beersay is a self confessed session virgin. He chose to reminisce about his early drinking days and how in particular, Newcastle Brown and to this day, it is still his go to beer, no his lifesaver.

John - The Beer Nut took an approach similar to mine in that his main area of thanks was to MolsonCoors. I had passed on some Worthington's beers, which Molson Coors owns and has invested in and chose to do what he does best. Drink the beer, take notes and write a post about the beers. He then demanded of Kristy McCready, the MolsonCoors rep who sent me the beers, that she send ship over to this side of the Irish Sea so we can buy them and consume them with glee. Demanding anything of Kristy is a brave thing to do as those who have met her can probably attest to.

Zak with the ridiculously long blog post name of Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement fame wrote that after he was finished sicking up in his mouth, he digressed a little and reminisced about music before realising that without a little corporate powerhousing, he would likely never have listened to smells like teen spirit and discovered the joy that is, or was Nirvana (or is that still is?). That lead him to think that without the big boys introducing him to beer, he likely would never have drank this ambrosia and never moved to craft beer and so never started writing about beer and without beer, would he have ever even started listening to Nirvana? How different his life might have been if the big boys were not promoting the hell out of their beer?

Steve from Beers I've known took a chance. He worried that Fuller's are not big enough? Well they may not be as big as the one's I have listed but they are not a microbrewery so that makes it fine. Also, I can never fault anyone for talking about Fuller's. In particular he thank's Fuller's for buying up the George Gale brewery before someone else did and even though it closed the brewery, they keep some of the beers alive under the George Gale name.

David the Broadfordbrewer chose to talk about one of the biggest gripes that we, in the beer writing world often have with the large multinationals. The buying up of smaller brands. Instead of bitching about it he see's the positive. These beers might never have reached his doorstep without their intervention. I too am thankful to Heineken because if I can go in to a pub in Ireland that is not of my choosing and Paulaner is on tap, I am quite happy and thankful myself.

My good friend Al from Fuggled, who incidentally was my inspiration to start writing about beer picked two of my favourites from the multinational world. In fact I mentioned Guinness and Pilsner Urquell myself. A self professed old fogey, he is adamant that Pilsner Urquell was better 10 years ago but it is still a wonderful beer.

Stan, one of the original session creators and author of Appellation beer hoped he did not stray too far off topic. Well since he invented Beer blogging Friday and wrote the very first session post, I think I can forgive him. In fact he put together a very informative article giving thanks to Henry King, the director of the USBA. King not only made beer safer to drink, he was instrumental in slashing the duty on microbreweries and beginning not only the explosion of micro brewed beer in the US but as a result, the world. So pretty much the father of the craft beer movement? Quite possibly.

Sean from Beer Search Party decided he could not in good conscience defend the big brewers, who might as well be making fire alarms for all the thought they put in to their product. His response has left me wondering if none of the large breweries have any good beers in the US? Molson Coors does in the UK but no doubt these brands are too small to make it to the US market. I think however that his real thanks came at the end and what he was getting at was to say thanks for being so rubbish, so tasteless and so bland that it a gap has opened in the beer drinking market which allows for more flavoursome beers from the small local breweries to become increasingly popular while their own marketshare falls from grace.

Meanwhile olllllo is stuck in the desert and suffering from heatstroke as on the one hand he honestly thanks the big boys for some things and then sarcastically thanks them for others. You can read all his bi-polar 18 or so reasons to thank the big boys on Beer PHXation. And thanks to olllllo for a great read.

Craig drinkdrank his way through the topic by going on an epic beer journey through the history of Albany, the capital of New York state. Specifically he thanked a former big boy in the brewing industry in a brilliant take on the topic. John Taylor owned was the biggest brewery in the US at the time with only the large London breweries producing more beer. In writing his article, Craig has educated me on the brewing history of Albany, an often overlooked little city and one I have never heard in the same sentence as the word brewery before. I encourage everyone to read this!

Alan has a good beer blog and is also Craigs inspiration for the article went on to expand a little. It would seem there is good evidence that Albany has been a powerhouse of American brewing since 1614. He then went on with the same sentiment as Sean and thanked them for a dull and lifeless product that allows someone who drinks a craft beer for the first time to be blown away. He linked to a previous post that mentioned  beer-tasting water and how he was obsessed with the term. Interesting in that when I first went to the US in 2004 I kept telling my in-laws that they were drinking beer flavoured water. An almost identical term with the same inference. Ironic that it was also in the US that I first discovered local beer or craft beer as I came to know it.

Mark gets his pencil & spoon out just in time to be included in the round-up. Mark is a busy boy these days now that he has his dream job in a microbrewery so I can forgive his tardiness. Mark does what he does best in his take, he keeps it simple and concise and to the point. The large breweries produce a product that people trust. It is the same, never changing. You know what you are getting when you order a Bud. It's the same reason why chain restaurants dominate whenever they pop up. There is comfort in knowing that you will enjoy what is on the menu and not have to take a chance on something new. People are generally afraid of change, a character flaw that big business know only too well and use to their advantage.

Jon at The Brew Site used the same example as many. Without the science the big boys bring, we would not have the efficient micro breweries we have today. And without AB, we would not have Mitch Steel producing the amazing Stone beers.

Derrick the beer runner rambled on about something slightly different. Like Mark, he picked Budweiser as his macro drink of choice but he pointed out an obvious truth to many people. When having a barbeque, stop faffing about with IPAs and Belgian Dubbels and other kinds of beer, don't bother with getting the correct serving temperature or glassware. A can of Bud in the hand served ice cold is your only man*.

JayZeis with beer in hand also thanks Budweiser and relays a personal story of how when the town of Bloomsburg was devastated by a flood, meaning there was no safe drinking water available, Budweiser AB trucks came to the rescue packed full of cans of water (branded) for the stricken inhabitants. He reckons this sort of thing goes on all the time but AB does not jump up and down shouting look here, we're great! Look what we did. Instead they quietly help out in disaster stricken regions and the only PR they get is appreciated by the people they help. A very worthy reason to be thankful for the power the big boys actually have. He then goes on to thank them for their wonderful Ad campaigns which you have to admit, have had such an impact on US and indeed world culture. To this day you still have people shout Whassuuup.

Reluctant Scooper Simon relates quite passionately that because Budweiser is such a flavourless and light beer, it makes it much harder to hide brewing flaws so the quality control at AB has to be nothing short of perfection so that no matter where you go in the world, Budweiser tastes the same. Well that might not be true due to contract brewing (Irish Bud I am told is not the same as US Bud), the point need only apply to the US where no matter what state you are in, Budweiser will always taste like Budweiser.

Bruce the Canadian BeerTaster is back to the session with his Canadian take on things. He emphatically rejects the thought that any big brewer is actually evil unless you can consider capitalism itself evil showing that the big mega-breweries are the very essence of capitalism, the shining stars of capitalism that show the world what can be accomplished by capitalism. Without getting in to politics, I think capitalism is flawed but it is the best of a bad bunch when it comes to economic systems, although really, is there a country that is purely capitalist? I don't know of one. Not even the US is a purely capitalist country.

Roger decided to take the satire or sarcastic route. His blog is either called bottledrogersbeers or a fool and his beers but whichever it is, he writes an amusing post about how thankful he is (or not) for the big breweries that have taken over his country and indeed the world. He got quite angry at having to write about this topic, especially considering his personal boycott of AB products so no doubt considered quelling his anger with plenty of bud light or even better, miller high life lite since it would not be consorting with the enemy. In the end though he enjoyed an Amberbock and thanked AB for not trying to pretend that it's craft beer.

Our final contribution comes from Jay himself, the other originator of the session series and the blog that everyone links to when they mention the session or look up past and future sessions. Brookston Beer Bulletin.  Jay brought the human aspect in to consideration. There are good people working in the large multinationals just as there are good people working in the small microbrewery working out of a small warehouse on the edge of town. The big boys created the science and procedures that allow micro breweries to even have a process and equipment to produce a mostly consistent product. He also threw in a little brewing history for good measure which is always nice.

*Your only man - Something that you can rely on e.g. If you're hungry, a burger's your only man (a burger will alleviate your hunger), see Plain above (from tripadvisor)


  1. The round-ups might be my favorite part of the session. Cheers!

  2. Just you wait till you host one and then we will see what you think when you spend hours reading blog posts and doing a summary.

  3. I agree, the round-ups are fun! Great job this month Reuben, and thanks again for hosting!

  4. It's all an act - I'm a kitten really......honest.......

  5. Maybe, but that kitten had no issue taking on the barking dogs of brewdog's Martin Dickie at the conference. So tiger kitten then?

  6. Barking dogs?? He looked more like I'd kicked a puppy!! And still hasn't answered my questions ;o)