Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Beer and You’ Category

Introducing the Seal of Approval!

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It could be said that I am somewhat passionate about beer. I think about beer constantly. I view rooms in my house by how easily they can be converted into a beer cellars, and when I meet a new person I often gauge my initial respect for them by what beer they drink. Sure, this does occasionally lead to my loudly professing more respect for the homeless alcoholic outside than the skinny-jeans wearing hipster inside, but hey, it’s a system and it (sorta) works.

Toothless Jim? Yeah, quality guy.

I’m a bit more broad spectrum when it comes to gauging restaurants, where I consider other factors such as: Beer Selection (on tap), Beer Selection (bottled), Quality of (beer) Service, Quality of Food (to eat with beer), and Awesomeness of Patios (on which to enjoy beer). So yeah, lots of things being weighed and compared besides beer there.

Being an opinionated loudmouth, I’d love to share these views, but how can I boil such a comprehensive view of the world into something simple and easy for the mouth-breathing masses to understand? Why, create faux medals, of course!

So I now introduce the Barley Mowat Seal of Approval(tm), which will be proudly awarded to fine establishments, fine brews, and fine what-ever-else-I-damned-well-please-s. There are three levels of my fancy Seal, and an implied fourth (no seal means no good). In order to qualify, I must have actually tried out the establishment or beverage at some point in the past twelve months and cared enough to whip out my iPhone and write down my opinions.

Here are the grades, and what they mean:

Bronze: Barely meets my (very tough) standards. I’ll drink this beer or go to this bar without complaint.
Silver: Hey! This isn’t half bad! They’re actually trying.
Gold: World class. I really only blog to get free stuff at these bars, or more of this beer.

And what use would a three grade ranking system be without gimmicky badges, designed by my sometimes co-tweeter, the lovely and talented (?) Miss Jennifer Gardy!

Okay, fine, they’re drawn on the back of a brown paper bag. What else did you expect? Competence? Do you even KNOW me?

I’ll be rolling out the first batch of awards later this week, so stay tuned.

Written by chuck

October 7th, 2012 at 11:28 am

Posted in Beer and You

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Wine Ads and You

with 2 comments

It’s been 13 days since I last updated my LDB ad count. Seeing as the LDB just refreshed the ad list, I figure today is as good as any other.

So, what’s the count now?

Liquor: 2 (+1)
Corporate: 2 (+1)
Wine: 10 (+5)
Beer: 0 (+0)

Yup, not much has changed. The lion’s share of advertising space continues to be given to wine. Sure, I understand that one of the most important days in Wine Culture is happening tomorrow (Bordeaux Release Day), and yes, I agree that deserves a big ole whack of advertisting.

But you know what? In the past 13 days, BC breweries have released at least a dozen new brews of the pumpkin and fresh-hopped variety. These aren’t releases that are about to happen. No, these are beers that are in bottles and ready to be sold to customers. Did the LDB advertise them? Nope. Heck, the LDB isn’t even carrying most of these new releases at all.

Now, as “Ben K” pointed out on my last post about wine-centric advertising, perhaps the LDB is pushing wine down our gullets precisely BECAUSE beer outsells it 4:3, and we should be selling more wine, gosh-darnit!


An excellent point, and definitely one I’ve given thought to. However it doesn’t really hold up when you really think about it. Wine accounts for >95% of all their advertising, but only 30% of sales. Beer accounts for roughly 0% of their advertising, but represents a very comparable 40% of sales. So the numbers argument doesn’t support the difference. Perhaps a growth strategy is at work here?

Typically you want to advertise a product to expand its market base. The logic is that you only have a fraction of all possible consumers, with other consumers laying beyond your reach because they’re either not aware of the product or go to your competitors. Since the LDB literally has no competitors in BC, we have to assume any advertising they’re doing is to attract new consumers to a product.

Kinda like getting more bums to fight over the cheap rum.

Like it or not, good wine is an expensive, premium product. In periods of rapid financial growth, new wealth means you are creating new consumers for premium products. However, in recessions (like now) you are actually contracting the market for consumers of high end products.

A contracting market means that suppliers in that market have to fight harder to keep customers. This situation would be the perfect environment in which to launch a massive marketing campaign if you had any competitors. No competitors, though, means you have zero risk of losing people.

Okay, maybe there are new wine products out there that we need to educate consumers on? A new varietal, perhaps, or maybe people just don’t get that there’s good wine out there? While this argument makes slightly more sense, it also doesn’t fully explain their heavy bias towards wine, especially in light of their advertising strategy. Last time I checked Argentine Malbec (3rd ad), while tasty, was not exactly cutting edge.

But wine cocktails are. Curious how we don’t see ads for those.

Craft beer, however, meets all these criteria to warrant an ad campaign. It has a rapidly expanding production base, full of new breweries and new beers, is relatively unknown amoungst the broader public and, more importantly, is a premium product that fortunately doesn’t carry the same sticker shock as premium wine. Folks who have been recession’d out of the fancy wine market are ripe for craft beer conversion.

Yet, instead of ads alerting everyone to the fall pumpkin beer releases, we get ads trying to get us to pair wine with pumpkins. No, that’s not a joke. Go look (2nd ad). Mmmm… pumpkin wine. Next month we’ll get “Top 10 Wines that pair with leftover bit-sized chocolate bars!”

I’m not done my wine-advertising rant series yet. However, I’ll leave the next round of rampant speculation for two weeks from now when that ad counter ticks up to 15 wine ads to zero beer ads.

Written by chuck

September 28th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Beer and You

The BC LCLB Speaks!

with 2 comments

I just received this little note in response to my rantish letter a few weeks back about Bring Your Own Wine:

Thank you for your follow up email. Minister Coleman has requested that this branch, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch respond on his behalf.

There is a lot of legal, policy and committee work involved in changing legislation. When bring your own wine was being contemplated government had been extensively lobbied for bring your own wine, with very little call being made for bring your own beer from either restaurant associations, the public or business. This is still the case. There is no plan to allow bring your own beer.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to write back to this address or to call our Help Desk, toll-free, at 1-866-209-2111.

Now, before y’all get worked up into a tizzy over this, I should say that I like this answer. Well, at least I like it a lot more than the previous one, which frankly was both baffling and insulting.

This answer, on the other hand, makes sense. It plainly outlines a reason for not including beer in the legislation, and as sucky as that reason might be, it is logical. Why wasn’t beer included? The answer is right there: the beer lobby wasn’t loud enough, and a quiet lobby isn’t worth spit in politics. That’s just the name of the game.

However, this letter cuts both ways. Now that we know why beer was left out, we also know how to fix that and get beer included. If we want craft beer to be taken seriously in this province, we need to get organized and get loud. We kinda suspected it before, but now we have it in writing.

Written by chuck

August 24th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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