Monday, 22 August 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

An interesting weekend for coverage of beer.

Friday evening's BBC1 'One Show' featured a piece by food critic Jay Rayner on microbrewing. He focused on the traditional role of women in brewing, so took a trip to Brodie's to chat with Lizzie and sample some beers. he also took some of the Brodie's bottles to some unsuspecting ladies in Essex, generally getting a positive response. (His piece starts at about 18 minutes)

Now, I don't get a lot of traffic, but I'm certain Jay must be reading, or at least noticed my last post (here, but don't click if strong swearwords offend) on a gathering of brewsters at Brodies. Good job he didn't take any of the beer from that gathering to the Ladies Wot Lunch in Chigwell, eh?

His piece was followed by a bit of beer and food matching with the show hosts and guest Jane Seymour. Jay let things down a bit by protesting he preferred wine with food, labelling online enthusiasts 'beer obsessives' (they exist, but it's a bit unfair to broadbrush the online beer community that way) and then describing Chris Evans' Jaipur as 'Indian Pale Ale'. Still, a very good piece.


Then, we have these new shelf talkers Tesco are using in-store to promote beer, in particular their 'fuller flavoured lagers'. Young Dredgie picked up on them and also the puff piece in yesterday's online Observer to plug them.

I popped into my local Tesco this morning. Sure enough, there's several of these cards covering a range of 'styles', including the offending lager one featuring SNPA and an Innis & Gunn bottle of something. Their merchandising is a bit odd, with no signposts indicating where 'Beer' is in-store, just one for 'Lager', but then a large featured facing for World Speciality Beers. No Goose Island IPA or Brooklyn lager on the shelves, more of the shelf talkers and a mixed bag of beers. Personally, it's about what I'd expect from a bigger supermarket, and certainly there's more effort than in the past to mix the offer up at this store.

Then we come onto the piece online. It's got a byline, but I wonder if it hasn't just been recycled from some press release. From the headline suggesting brewers, having 'cashed in' on real ale (which brewers? How?), are now turning to 'lager', the hopeless paragraph containing a potted American brewing 'history' claiming that craft brewers owe their success to Prohibition (if Horst Dornbusch had written this, Ron Pattinson would be all over him), and the inexcusable confusing of ales as lagers (even setting out the full name of SNPA - a beer Tesco has listed for some years now, by the way - surely a clue in the name, lads?). And poor Iain Loe of Camra may have to wear a paper bag on his head for a few days after being quoted in this rubbish.

Over the years beer lovers have had to become used to second-rate coverage of beer in our quality print media. But this really is scraping the bottom of the barrel. A good start to the weekend had the gloss taken off by lazy PR puffery masquerading as news.



Cooking Lager said...

What beer did the lovely Alex Jones like? I'd buy her a pint AND a bag of crisps.

Sid Boggle said...

She had chocolate tart and a Young's Double Choc Stout. Personally, I'd have matched something zesty and clean with the gooey tart. There you go...

Martyn Cornell said...

What did Alex Jones do to you that you're calling her a gooey tart?