Episode 32: An Abundance of Geekery

IMG_2977This is the 32nd episode of the Blind Tiger podcast, recorded July 9th, 2014.  In this episode Mike, Jesse, and myself gathered in our studio to let our inner geek fly free.  While loyal listeners are painfully aware we can’t restrain ourselves from an overabundance of Star Trek, Futurama, Firefly, Harry Potter,  music, or Big Lebowski references each episode.  While we try to restrain ourselves sometimes in the inner geek just refuses to take no for an answer after a few beers.

Thankfully this weekend include “Embrace your Geekness” day so we are justified to spending an entire episode letting each and every last ounce of inner geekdom out into the listening world.  I’m a geek and I’m proud!

We get into some economic geekery as we discuss the real reason that hop prices are skyrocketing in the USA and the shocking thing is that it isn’t unfettered greed.

Mike geeks out over a pilot program to have beer vending machines at baseball stadiums.  Is is a revolution in how sports fans might more efficiently get beer from keg to gullet?  Or is it a great idea poorly executed that can only end in disaster?  Listen to find out.

We discuss an article from Slate magazine that argues that mass market breweries as uniquely positioned to beat craft beer at their own game.  Did you hear that?  That was the resounding shout of “bullshit” from anyone who knows anything about craft beer.

And we get technically on the art of the pour as we discuss a Canadian controversy over paying for 16oz of beer but only getting served 14oz.  When your beer has a healthy head in your glass are you paying an extra price for air?  Does that matter?

Show Notes:

Beer News:

  • Yakima Hops Firm thinks almost $1B Infrastructure Investment to Keep Hop Prices Reasonable
  • Chicago Brewery Wants You to Drink Posh Beer
  • Maine’s Liquor Laws Destroy “The Festival” Beer Fest
  • Baseball Unveils Self-Serve Beer Vending Machines
  • Beer Based Marinades Make for Healthier Grillables

Point / Counterpoint: “Big Brew” Advantages:

Slate released an article highlighting how the Macros such as Anheuser Busch can “beat” craft beer at their own game. Miller and Bud have been trying to market edgier beers such as Miller Fortune and Budweiser Black Crown that have tanked in terms of sales. It argues that they instead need to focus on certain styles that craft beer lovers thoroughly enjoy but that aren’t readily available simply because the small micros have too limited a capacity. Thus AB or Miller could swoop in and start making these styles, such as Sours and Bourbon Barrel beers more wildly available. This would help them win back the market share they have been losing to craft beer.

First of all, his point that products such as Miller Fortune and Budweiser Black Crown failed because so called beer snobs didn’t go for it is false. Those beers failed because Liquor snobs didn’t go for those products which were the customers Fortune and Black Crown were gunning for. The macros are losing market share on two fronts, to craft sales and liquor, and I’d argue that they are more scared of the latter.

If this author seriously thinks that the macros can make a better product than the micros, he doesn’t understand the very point why craft beer lovers dislike most beer made by the macros in the first place. People like us rebel against Bud and Coors because it tastes like watered down corn water.

His argument that Budweiser could destroy the micro industry by offering a coveted product at a cheaper price point is laughable. Micro producers are small and nimble and while they have a hard part achieving the economies of scale necessary for profit, they are also nimble enough to weather changing tastes, raw material availability, and production changes. Earlier in the article he states that Budweiser took a revenue hit because it spent a lot of money simply having to ramp down Black Crown production when no one bought it. What happens when its tart saison also fails?

The brewers in craft beer also spend a lot of time perfecting recipes and also are very close to their clientele. They know what works and what doesn’t. Most of those guys have a report with customers that Budweiser could only dream of. And they don’t have to spend millions of dollars on analytics to do it.

To say that small breweries don’t put out tart saisons because they are too scared to mess with brett and different yeasts is a huge slander. I don’t know a brewer out there who has ever been quoted as saying “Gee, we wanted a more daring beer but by gosh we just didn’t know if we could pull it off” Hell, I’ve seen more quotes of “We didn’t know if we could do it, so we went ahead and did it anyway”

Beer vs Beer:

Mike’s Choice:Sixpoint’s Rad

Rob’s Choice:Terrapin’s Hi-5 IPA

Craft Beer Criticism: Draft Pour Ripoff:

Recently CAMRA in Vancouver decided to put draft beers to the test.  They went to numerous bars in an attempt to check if bars were pouring what they were advertising.  They order beers in the glass that were advertised as being 10oz, 12oz, and 16oz.  They would take their glass, pour it into a marked glass and see just how close the bar’s advertised quantity was to their actual pour.  CAMRA’s results were quite surprising; many bars were pouring under the amounts that they were advertising.

What does this really mean to beer drinkers?  Well here in America we have uniform standards for beer quantities.  The high five beer we had early came in a 12oz can.  This is the same size as the traditional beer bottle.  Yet as a friend of ours pointed out recently that beers on tap are always more expensive than in the bottle.  I retorted that this because you are paying for an extra four ounces.  The American pint glass is 16oz while our bottles are only 12oz.  This explains why a beer in the bottle is cheaper than in the glass.  Yet if a bar is charging you for 16oz but only pouring 14oz or 12oz then you are paying for head or for air.

The Vancouver beer scene was thrown into a tizzy at CAMRA’s findings as craft beer consumers were pissed off at beers charging them for beer they weren’t getting.  Yet pouring a full 16oz means filling the glass to the tippy top which means no room for head at all.  So the question I have for our panels is; if we are getting screwed at bars by ordering beer on draught?

Source: http://camravancouver.ca/2014/07/06/fuss-comes-back-with-a-vengeance/

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