The news that AB InBev and SAB Miller have completed their mega merger creating the worlds biggest brewer generating half of the brewing industry profits could cause microbreweries to feel even more threatened from a dominant brewer with vast economies of scale and financial and geographic reach. Not so in my opinion. This in me is the crowning moment for microbreweries across the world. The time when big beer has finally overstepped the mark and overstretched itself and sullied it's reputation with the average beer drinker to a point where they will question the undeniable fact that if they are drinking Peroni are they really drinking Stella or Becks and is there any difference other than price and a marketing teams carefully worked out brand positioning for their beer? At this point they may come to a dawning realisation that what they really need to do is try a proper craft beer; one that has been lovingly crafted by a brewer, who's taste is original and authentic and is a unique handcrafted product.
Brewing mega merger has parallels
To me it reminds me of my experiences with Microsoft and PCs for years I struggled with laptops using Microsoft ubiquitous operating system that worked averagely badly but I knew it and stuck with what I new. After years of people telling me about this funny little thing called an Apple Mac. I finally switched and realised that everything worked. There was no going back! When I walk into a coffee shop and see someone struggling for an hour trying to log on I want to whisper ...just get a mac. In just the same way when I walk into a pub or bar and see someone ordering a Fosters, Peroni, Becks on draft I want to shout STOP! What a waste of a potentially great drinking experience especially when you look round and there is a range of fantastic hand crafted beers on offer. Not all dark heavy. Light hoppy fragrant saisons, a dry hopped IPA or a proper lager all for the same price of a bland piece of corporate brewing masterminded by accountants and marketing men not brewers. Admittedly, you will always get a consistent beer...but a consistently unbelievably mediocre beer where the brewery is just as likely to have been brewing Stella as Fosters or Peroni (authentic?!!?)
New dawn for Microbreweries & craft brewers
Following on from this merger I hope and believe that mass beer drinking consumers will start to see the light. Just in the same way that when Ford owned Jaguar cars they failed to convince enough drivers that they luxury car was nothing more than an overpriced Mondeo with a different badge. Will consumers start to question the logic of paying £4 or £5 for a Peroni which is probably brewed in Burton Upon Trent under licence.
This disaffection with mass produced and internationalised beer brands presents a massive opportunity for innovative and exciting new microbreweries and regional brewers to tempt away new beer drinkers into the craft and real ale drinking market.
Why I drink craft beer everyday
This is not a confessional! I'm not sitting in front a panel of AA. It's true. I drink mainly a single pint of real ale or craft beer every day in a pub. It's part of my life and I love it. Often I'm working but I still rather drink it out. Beer is meant to be drunk around people laughing, joking, eating, discussing the state of the world and their families. To me the mass consumption of supermarket mass produced bland branded beer on your own watching TV is a sad indictment of a society that has lost it's way and true meaning and a million miles away from what the whole beer drinking experience should be. This is what lead me to set up Brew-School. To encourage more breweries, more brewers and make beer drinking a more rewarding experience. British beer is a major part of British culture and something I am rightly proud of.
Going back to the brewing mega merger above I believe that Brew-School can play a part in redressing the balance between big brewer and the emerging microbrewing sector. We have only being going a short time but we already have a number of success stories and have shown brewers how to set up their own microbrewery.
So if you are looking at setting up a microbrewery the time could be right to take on big beer and persuade not just the converted real ale drinkers but all those other beer brewers that now is the time to swap to a hand crafted beer.
Looking for microbrewery set up advice or how about being taken through all the essential things you need to consider when setting up your own microbrewery on a dedicated course.
Chris Horne is a Director of Brew-School and these are his personal views and not necessarily that of Brew-School Ltd.