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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Cask ale week - and beer versus wine again

Next week is the second cask ale week. After a cautious, modest success last year, this year's event should see pubs and brewers promoting cask ale with a little more confidence, and getting great beer a rare outing in mainstream media.

One brewer who already has a radio show lined up has asked me to ask you to help him out. Notwithstanding my poorly written and therefore misunderstood blog about how we shouldn't be trying to make beer the new wine, the question is this:

What arguments would you use to convince a regular wine drinker that they should be drinking beer instead?

I have my own views on this, but what do you think?

For the record, in my previous blog post I wasn't suggesting that you shouldn't attempt to convince wine drinkers to drink beer, just that you shouldn't do it by trying completely to compete with wine on wine's terms. Some people seek flavour and they should already be open to try anything flavoursome - beer, wine, whatever - whereas others drink wine not for its flavour but for image reasons, so trying to convince them about beer's flavour is simply barking up the wrong tree.

But you may disagree.

Either way, if a wine drinker came to you and said, "Why should I drink beer?" What would your reply be?

16 comments:

Eddie said...

"Because wine is poncy". There, that sorts the image thingy out.

Chris said...

I think it depends what kind of wine drinker you’re talking to – are they wine snobs or do they just drink it because that’s what they think a girl drinks / what one brings to a dinner party? Some common messages I’d start with:

- It’s local (potentially…). A Californian or Argentinean white has travelled half way around the world. London Pride or Meantime’s London Pale Ale are from a few miles down the road.

- It doesn’t have to come in big, threatening pint glasses. The tulip glasses the Rake uses for bottled beers remove a lot of the “I’ve got a lot of this to get through if I don’t like it…” and “girls don’t drink pints” arguments (not ones I agree with, but that may affect image-driven drinkers)

- There are more than three beer choices (Fizzy, yellow cold lager; Warm, flat weird tasting stuff from hand pumps; Guinness). Even if the second two intimidate you, there are things *like* the first – but taste better. Start them off with craft lagers or pilsners.

- It’s not uncivilised to drink it with food, even in restaurants (not just with curry) – in fact, it sometimes works better than wine

DJ said...

I would say that Ale has all the qualities of wine but can be appreciated for longer as it is a long drink. Simples as that.

Rob said...

You and try and put forward many reasons why to drink beer. You can talk about style and diversity and and it's chemistry with food and often only bore people. But at the end of the day its beer that speaks for itself. Find out what a person likes flavour wise (spicy, fruity, dry etc) then you can taylor a tasting thats likely to grab some attention.

Velky Al said...

I've been running a poll around the same lines this week, quite possibly as a result of emails with the same brewer! Some interesting results so far.

Rod Gillies said...

Why should I drink beer?

"It depends on what kind of wines you like and why you drink them...

If you like complex and interesting wines then broadening your repertoire to include beers will open you up to a whole new world of taste experiences.

If your drink bland white wine because it's cold and refreshing then why not try standard lager? It's lovely and it won't get you hammered quite as quickly."

ds said...

Not sure about the exactness of the Latin (it's not a quote), but the sentiment is right, I believe:

"in vino vertias, sed in zytho vita"

- There is truth in wine, but in beer there is life.

Cooking Lager said...

Why not just remove all the bull about social class, aspiration, masculinity and image from booze altogether and say "everybody just drink what you like the taste of", and not bother what rocks your neighbours boat and enjoy what rocks yours.

Joe Stange said...

No words are necessary. Buy the wine guy a couple of beers.

I'm a believer in cognitive dissonance... That is, to oversimplify, "if I did something then there must have been a good reason." The glow of a two-pint buzz can be very persuasive.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

What Cookie said.

Martyn Cornell said...

Ask them why YOU should drink WINE. Then, after they've gone on about depth of flavours, taste experiences, subtleties of aroma and palate and so on, say: "I can show you exactly those same joys in a beer." If they look dubious, ask if you can find all the pleasures and subtleties they are talking about in a bottle of E&J Gallo or Blossom Hill. When they say no, of course not, tell them you're not talking about mass-produced products either, but artisinal beers crafted with as much care as any small-estate wine or premier cru.

Ed said...

I normally say 'think of poor tiny tim, how will he be fed if you don't buy beer' but I suppose you have to work in the beer trade to use that one.

To a serious wine buff I'd go on about how beer is a more complex drink than wine: the variety of grains and hops compared to just grapes, and the different types of yeast and of water used to make beer as well as the huge variation in strength and colour.

al_uk said...

I drink beer rather than wine routinely now largely because I am often thirsty. And I want something that quenches my thirst, that I can drink more than a large thimble of, that has complexity, interesting flavours, is a grown up drink, and yet won't get me too drink (as wine would if I drank it in the same quantities)

PivnĂ­ Filosof said...

I would just invite him/her to a tasting that will include the brand he/she mostly associates beer with, and take it from there. I would even include beers I think they might not like, just to make a point of the diversity the drink offers. At no time I would even imply that beer is better than wine, or any other bollocks like that.

With that done, I would point out the value for money issue.

Mark said...

What Martyn said!

And I'd talk about the range and depth of flavours and textures in beer. Maybe give it some more context by linking it to food, particularly foods which wine doesn't go so well with - chocolate, chilli.

I think if you talk about beer in a way that they are familiar with then it helps to bridge the gap they might perceive. Talk about processes, barrel-aging, different yeasts. And if you give them a taster then put it in a small glass, not a pint.

That's what I'd do.

Mark, Real-Ale-Reviews.com said...

What Martyn said + what Cookie said (and they are not mutually exclusive!)