On the radio talking about the business of beer

Last Saturday I was invited on to RTE’s The Business Show along with Miriam Atkins, editor of Food and Wine Magazine to discuss craft beer. Conor Brophy was sitting in for regular host Richard Curran.

It was a lot of fun discussing a broad range of issues impacting the beer business. Yes, it meant an early start for a Saturday morning but anyone who knows me would know (for better or worse) that I’m always happy to talk about beer. It was a quick 11 minutes or so and I just hope that it goes to show that beer is a topic deserving of more airtime.

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Beer Wars – Craft vs. “Crafty”

“The world’s population of beer connoisseurs has been steadily expanding over the last few years, and in the States this week a disgruntled beer drinker from California, Evan Peters, is suing Miller-owned Blue Moon for falsely advertising itself as a “craft” product. Are there some big beer wars brewing? Aidan Sweeney, Beer Sommelier, and Miriam Atkins from Food and Wine Magazine gave Conor an overview”.

Listen here

A project to catch drinkers on the hop

Guinness is at it again. Following up on last September’s kickoff, hitting Irish outlets in October, a new beer has been released as part of the Brewers Project. The new beer’s a departure from the porter and stout category. They’ve even leaped outside completely.

Hop House 13 is a lager. I have heard plenty of chatter on how the brewer doesn’t like such beers but persevered for the sake of making a decent but different take on the style. At 4.1%, the folk in St. James’ Gate are attempting to compete in the lager category against old and new offerings by other macro breweries and even those they brew under licence. It’s certainly priced that way. If it eats into craft beer sales (if being sold in the same pub), I’m sure they’ll take that too.

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To cover all bases, not only is this aimed at the lager drinker it also is trying to cash in on the “cool” drinker. The one who may want to appear fashionable because he or she has heard of something called “hop”. To make it even easier and perhaps a more attractive proposition Guinness has gone and put it smack bang into the name of the beer. This is the “Fr Trendy” of beers.

Hop House 13 pours a clear golden colour. So a big tick for that. Little perceptible hop aroma. There’s citrus and apricot in tasting so I’m told. I got the subtle citrus flavours but it had more of a red berry than apricot taste for me. However, I tried this after judging a beer competition and my palate was fairly shot.

I have tried this beer on two separate occasions. It could prove popular as the weather gets better. Already countless “sure there’s a grand stretch in the evening” comments can be heard. It could pass muster for fans of summer ale as there’s a teaspoon of bitterness in the beer. It’s a little thin and watery but overall not a bad attempt.

The “crafty” Brewers Project appears to be picking up momentum. Hop House 13 will be featuring in bars across the island but not in all of them. It’ll be a similar rollout to Dublin Porter. The Brewers Project is clearly becoming a brand, label (or call it what you will) in its own right.

I’m just waiting for the day when I might overhear a drinker remark that “13” refers to the types of hops in the beer. For the record, there’s only three: mosaic, topaz and galaxy.

You could have worse beers than this but you could certainly have better. This is where it fits in. Could be better, could be worse.