Now it seems that the spotlight is being turned on the craft beer sector and, as the Morning Advertiser reports, they’re not at all happy about it. Indeed, their response seems ridiculously hyperbolic. Russell Bisset, of Leeds-based Northern Monk, says that the move comes across as “an attempt to curtail them growth of the independent craft brewing sector”, and he is “troubled by the Portman group’s attempt to influence and dictate the strength of beer we are able to produce”.
Come on Russell, keep your hair on! Nobody’s trying to stop you brewing very strong beers, just wanting to control the maximum size of package you can put them in. Indeed, many people have criticised craft brewers for their tendency to put very strong beers in containers of 500ml or above, when generally you only want to drink 330ml or less at once. At the same time, there have also been numerous complaints about the craft tendency to put beers of modest supping strength in “child-size” 330ml bottles and cans as a mark of differentiation from the 500ml bottles of boring mainstream brown bitter.
Yes, this is a restriction on brewers’ freedom, but in the overall scheme of things it’s an utterly trivial one. If customers really want to drink that volume, why can’t they buy two smaller bottles instead? Although no doubt we’ll also get the guff about secondary fermentation in larger bottles imparting an additional depth and subtlety of flavour. And there is a good argument that standardisation of package sizes helps consumers by making it easier to compare value for money between different products.
It’s noticeable how the craft brewing sector imagines that it should be exempt from the rules that apply to ordinary mortals. Large bottles of mega-strong beer, cartoon characters on labels, and fixed price all-you-can-drink offers are fine for them, but not, it would seem, for normal drinkers. They are thick, irresponsible drunken plebs who can’t resist temptation, while the crafties, in the words of Mr Bisset, are “champions of considered, mindful drinking”.
Did we get a peep out of these people when the same arm-twisting was applied to Carlsberg Special? Nope, didn’t think so. So I can’t say my cup of sympathy is exactly overflowing. Welcome to the real world, crafties!