After a having guests over for dinner this weekend, I was left with a couple of cans of Carling in the fridge the following day.  Not a beer I’d normally spending money, yours or mine on, I wondered if the product had actually developed a flavour of any description.  The answer is a still a definite no, its hard for it to offend anyone when it doesn’t say anything in the first place.  Its a beer which cools you down and gets rid of a thirst, but very little else.

Wondering how you can make a beer so bland, I checked the website.  An informative graphic demonstrates how the beer is made, harks on endlessly about the 100% British barley, but has relatively little to say about the resultant malt and accompanying hops that go into the beer except the former comes from the Coors Malting House.  Its the combination of malt and hops which give a good beer a nice rounded earthiness accompanied by the controlled bitterness and provide a pleasant aftertaste.  Given the relative important given to the second of these ingredients by the brewery publicly, the lack of taste is perfectly understandable.

When compared to some of our regional and local brewers who sell their beers on the back of telling people how the varieties of hops are of renown, that certain hops are used to bring out different elements of the beer flavour, and how the maltings are carefully picked and prepared to suit the beer, you see the marked difference in approaches to brewing, the view of beer as a commodity vs a carefully produced product.

When a beer is well produced with care and attention to taste, I will not criticise it even if I do not like the beer, as others may and will do so.  I merely do not mention the beer and highlight the brews I did enjoy, knowing full well others may not and will not agree with me.  It is the same approach to pubs, if I like it I mention it, if not, silence is golden, it is up to others to decide their taste.  Where the beer is a commodity to be bulk produced, marketed and sold to the masses and doesn’t attempt to have its own taste, this is when you will find my criticism.

I know that beer, whether brewed on a small, medium or large scale needs some level of care to produce a consistent drinking experience whether distinctive or generic.  I’ve had several discussions with a friend of mine regarding this. As he has held many positions within the trade from shift brewing manager at a major multinational to head brewer at a Liverpool based medium sized brewer, to his current role as general manager at one of the countries best independent distilleries producing award winning spirits on a global level, I respect his opinions, and he has convinced me not to be so critical of the big breweries themselves, but I wish they would try and make the resultant product more interesting.

Two almost identical numbers sum this up perfectly, £7.3 million vs £7 million.  The first number is what Carling’s owners Molson Coors is investing in the brands “strategic repositioning” to turn it into a “two billion pint brand”.  This includes a full length single to accompany the TV and online campaign and new tagline “Brilliantly Refreshing”.  The second figure is what Brewdog are planning to invest in a new brewery near Aberdeen, so they can produce more of their excellent (in the authors opinion) distinctive ales.  As a beer drinker, where would you rather the money you pay for your beer to be spent, on marketing or the production facilites.  I know that beer needs to be sold as product, but a good product is a good start.

Beer is something that is equally to be taken seriously in its production and choice of ingredients, and in an equally irreverent and enjoyable manner in its consumption.   Beer is designed to be a leisure product, whether in the company of friends, family, acquaintances or soon not to be strangers. It can equally be part of a relaxed night in on your own watching a film, reading a book or playing video games, but it has to be fun whatever.

Until next week, enjoy your beer and happy supping.

  1. “I wish they would try and make the resultant product more interesting.”

    Sean – they wouldn’t sell. Most people don’t care about taste in their beer. Most people would hate BrewDog’s products if they tried them. Get over yourself, and stop worrying about what other people like to drink.

  2. […] Sean Liquorish wants bland mainstream lagers to be tastier. […]