There's some vibe going round about The Future Of Beer. Zak Avery over here says that the off-trade is the future, with opportunities to educate and inform, to sell enthusiastically and promote craft beer. Meanwhile, over here, Adrian Tierney-Jones offers a view on the consistency of bottle-conditioned beers, professing ambiguity about them.
Boggle's view? Until we have more of our best draught beer in bottles, whether as BCA or not, then a large number of beer fans will rely on pubs. Will this change the model for business growth in the UK? If it does, I'd expect to see more of what in the US are called 'packaging' breweries, where most of the output isn't for the bar, it's for the off-trade. That means investment in a bottling line or access to a reliable quality bottling (or canning) service. Would smaller brewers be left behind? BrewDog are ahead of the game in that respect, although their QC arrangements have lagged behind. And as the off-licence drinker becomes educated as Zak proposes, will we see more imports on the shelves? And then there's how the off-trade sector operates in terms of price and availability. Would growth in the off-trade be at the expense of pubs? We'll see...
Here's a different take. I liked this story on one of the US beer ticker sites. A beer 'fan' bought some bottles of beer from his local Good Beer Emporium. He logged onto the site in question and noticed some of the bottles he'd bought had received mixed reviews. Based on this, he posted that he was considering returning the beers to his Good Beer Emporium since they weren't to his liking, even though he hadn't tasted them.
Leave aside that a 'beer lover' could be so narrow-minded and easily-led as to rely on somebody else's review rather than drink the beer and form an opinion for themselves, if you were the operator of a Good Beer Emporium and a punter brought some unopened bottles back with that story, what would you do?