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Are we not critical enough of Australian Brewers?

Posted by on May 20, 2011

The question was just asked here http://bit.ly/mLCyCQ on twitter.

So for my 2c’s here goes.

Short answer is.. no we are not. But do we need to be?

There are many brewers who “play it safe”.  I recall reading a comment after GABS at the Local Taphouse that Australian Brewers do not take enough risk. I do agree with this sentiment.

But then… Look at the market they are playing in. They are competing with the big corporate might of Kirin, Fosters etc…

They get stung so much in excise on their beers,  in what is an unfair system.

They also need to battle with the  “<insert mass produced swill here> is real beer, and everything else is for snobs or poofs” mentality that is rife in mainstream Australia.

Producing big beers likes Brewdog like to do, is expensive and cost prohibitive.. And is a massive risk. Your market is small. Those of us willing to indulge in a big big Double IPA are few and far between. There isn’t a lot of money to be made.

While beer is a passion for a lot of us, its just a “beer” to others, not everyone is happy to shell out AUD $200 for a Sink the Bismark.

Another reality of modern life, is that the communication tools available to the modern joe are fairly extensive. Your view, for right or wrong, is too easy to get out there in the mainstream.

I have a reasonably small amount of followers (98) on twitter. That is still 98 people that can read my opinion. They can then retweet that opinion to potentially tens of thousands of people. And how much opinion can  you place in 140 characters anyway?

Blogs are a different matter,  more can be said but the reach may not be as far.

I think its all good and well to say we are not critical enough, but when that personal critical opinion can be spread so far and wide on a topic where opinions are so varied, it could potentially do unfair damage to a micro breweries reputation that is undeserved, unless they are truly shit.

Haven’t’ found one quite that bad yet :)

If you know me or ever have the misfortune of meeting me, feel free to ask me of my opinion on a certain breweries or brews that I have had, and you will get a blunt and honest opinion and the discussion around it that the beer in question deserves.

2 Responses to Are we not critical enough of Australian Brewers?

  1. Tristan

    A lightning fast and thoughtful response.

    It seems to be the age old issue (that is in no way unique to beer) – ‘sell out’ to reach a wider audience, or stay true and obscure.

    As you rightfully pointed out, the odds are well and truly stacked against smaller breweries. I guess that accounts for why there are ‘average’ beers being produced by Australian breweries.

    The second issue raised is how we, the ‘critics’ (I use the term loosely, and in my case, very tongue-in-cheek) critique the products. I get the feeling that beer is still finding its feet and is very small and tight-knit in comparison to something like food blogging. Food writers tend to be more comfortable providing negative feedback than beer. I wonder if it has to do with the tight-knit community?

    As beer as an artisan product is further legitimised all the critics will come out of the woodwork, I suspect.

  2. Gem

    Thanks for the blog post – you put your money where your mouth is and didn’t hide under anonymity.

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve said – true, these small-time brewers have to make a living, so for the moment they’re not just ready to go out there and make crazy beer. It won’t sell. However, if people like me can be converted to drinking good beer (only started in 2008, and craft beer in 2009) then I feel like we can’t give Australian/local brewers the “art school critique” just yet. Commercially and artisanally, these folks are still finding their feet.

    Look, I’m not proud of my commercial beer swilling past – yes, I thought it was hilarious to drink copious amounts of swill that made me feel crap the day after but dangit am I glad for the choice being offered to us now and you know what, it might not be as cheap as the crap swill but I’m paying for an experience – a great one, some will be duds, others not and that’s all part of the journey. As a fellow artist, I’m in complete admiration for what these folks do – they are chasing their artistic dreams. Not quite writing poetry or being the best rock band they can be, but you get my drift.

    *raises a craft beer to your good health*

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