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The Danger of Crap Beer in the Craft Beer Market

This week we ran into two particulary rubbish craft beers in our household and I’d like to suggest into the craft beer ether than it’s not good enough. Not by a long shot. And while I’m going to suggest two beers in this blog post that should have been ditched at the brewery (making some people prickle, for sure), it’s an endemic problem within the craft brew industry. Bad beer. Or sub-par beer. And that beer being applauded, regardless.

The first beer I fail to understand why it ever reached the market was a can of Little Bang Chipotle Panther. A nice idea, but it was pretty much an undrinkable swill and whoever taste tested that product before it went out the door needs to rethink their commitment to the industry. I’m aware that Little Bang make some cracking beers… but this one was a massive fail. It did taste like chipotle. But it was a crap beer.

Little Bang Chipotle Panter

The second beer that I had problems with surprised me, though. The beautifully marketed but extremely disappointing Garage Project Surrender to the Void Banoffee & Coffee Stout. These guys make lovely beer and (like Little Bang) they know exactly what a good and a bad beer entails. This was an overly sweet and cloying unbalanced beer in every regard. Again, it should have been tipped.

Garage Project Surrender to the Void Banoffee & Coffee Stout

Now I do get it. I have this fancy MBA so I’m not totally unaware of the business realities of these breweries, even before COVID-19. There is no fat and they can’t afford to suffer losses. But if that’s the case stop making risky beers badly. Either dump the not so great products, or stop trying to make them. No, everything that you try won’t be 100 per cent on the money… but accept that it should not be up to the consumer to pay for your crappy batches. We paid AUD$32 for two cans of Surrender to the Void and it was slickly marketed rubbish.

Next, I know there are a lot of people who will say that taste is subjective. I’d answer that it’s another part of the problem in the craft beer sector – fanboyism. Stop patting each other on the back for every beer and start being honest critical beer drinkers again. Admit there’s also a certain amount of post purchase justification going on with some of these beers. And admit that a large problem in the craft beer sector is there are some really crap beers, even from the better brewers, that get released into the market. This is not good enough and consumers who leave the sector may be lost forever to all craft breweries based on bad experiences.

This is compounded by the number of brewers who have entered the market in recent years with very ordinary beer. I don’t care if they are your friends.

When I was in business school they posed this question. If you make the best cakes in the World but everyone thinks they’re crap, what are they? Answer: crap. You don’t get to decide that your cake is the best; consumers decide.

This is how it rolls in reality. If I’m stung, as a consumer, on a couple of rubbish cans of beer at $30+ then I am very unlikely to spring in the future on other beers. It should not be ‘buyer beware’ in the craft brew fridge at the local distributor. When shit beer gets released it hurts everybody. This week we spent about $170 on craft beer. That money we spend will surely move back into wine and spirits if the expensive beers that we buy don’t measure up in quality.

And that’s where it’s at right now. It’s all good and well to be dick shaking each other as craft brewers and saying all that comes from a micro brewery or a brew pub is gold, but in the end it will bite into the sector. I don’t want 80% of the beer I buy to be worth it. So I guess it’s up to the industry to figure a plan on how to deal with that one. If the craft beer sector continues to push the idea that selling a rubbish beer to stay in business is the right way forward then it’s got serious problems.

Journalists have a saying ‘Kill your darlings!’. The craft beer industry as a whole needs to adopt that philosophy.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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