Monday 27 April 2009

Getting the Coors Shoulder

The Seduction
I had a very short-lived love-affair with Coors just recently; it was much like all wild affairs, it started with so many promises, teases and temptations – then ended in betrayal and broken dreams as they turned out to be not the brewer I thought they were.

This big, strong, brewer wooed me by forming an all-female think tank, called the BitterSweet Partnership, to show me it cared; then tempted me in with research which showed when you really asked women why they don’t drink beer it wasn’t just taste - it was glassware and not knowing what to order, it was not realising how low in calories beer is in comparison to wine, spirits with mixers or the dreaded bag of peanuts.

It tempted me with findings about women’s feelings for the current state of beer advertising in the UK, that they knew that advertising like Foster’s and Stella 4% was rubbish and patronising – and I was hooked, because unlike any other big brewer in my life they really got me, they cared.

The Betrayal
But then the rumours started, I heard that they were being unfaithful to our passion, that they were going to be re-starting a relationship with someone, or something, (possibly called Zima) from over the pond – that they were cheating on our beer-love!

And it was true!

They were seeing this cheap tramp, this recycled failure of a concept, this syrupy, nasty ‘clear beer’ that even beer-rejectors don’t seem to like – this, this, Barbie-doll silicone implant of a beer has taken my place in their hearts.

They just don’t want an honest female beer drinker any more, in fact they don’t even want to listen to their own research.

You see, my former love had already told me that their BitterSweet research had uncovered that ‘cider and alcopops, which have targeted women more prominently in recent years, are only preferred by 6% of women’.

So why, oh why, were they starting a new relationship with something that is, in effect, an alcopop? And let me tell you about this floozy concept that’s been whoring around American for 13 years and has finally had to tout its services elsewhere when its pimps took it out of circulation.

A (currently nameless) ultra-fine filtered beer to take out all colour (and one presumes flavour), it is then pumped full of things like ‘dragon fruit’ and ‘green tea’, which merely creates a fizzy, synthetic and grossly sweet flavour, in other words it’s an airhead of a product – I’ve been dumped for a bimbo beer!

Moving On
But, don’t worry dear reader, my heart is on the mend because I’ve got a new love from America as well, and it’s the whole of the craft brewing movement.

That’s not to denigrate what UK brewers have been doing during National Cask Ale week, they have been proactively running tastings and beer events for women across the land, and have got some good results, St Austell and Hook Norton for example have been making themselves pretty attractive through their efforts to entice more women into the ale category.

These two breweries worked hard at tasting events on femALE day to introduce women to the beauty of beer, and have had a modicum of success at doing so and good on them.

But I’m afraid they just don’t have the allure, the pizzazz or the glamour of their contemporaries over the pond as was demonstrated at the recent Craft Brewers Conference in Boston.

And my current object of total adoration is Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing.

His presentation of a short film entitled ‘I Am a Craft Brewer’ is the single most powerful message that I have seen about artisan beer in a very long time and it has totally stolen my heart – watch it online and you will undoubtedly feel the same.

The video highlighted the amazing array of men and women who brew great beers in American and who are responsible for making craft beer the second fastest growing sector in the beer market, according to recent Nielsen figures.

It rightly points out that as the bigger brewers took taste out of their beers by using rice and maize, craft brewers became stronger and more popular, as society took their tastebuds out of their big-brand torpor and went in search of real flavour.

It talked about the honour of the craft brewing movement, its soul, and in the process cemented my undying affection for the US’s approach to artisan beer making.

What I thought was particularly powerful was that it ended with this quote from Nigerian poet Chinua Achebe: “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”

Coors - and every other big brewer out there that thinks women’s hearts can be won with plastic flavours and patronising fruit-based malt beverages - please take note.