Sunday, 1 April 2012

Exciting Edinburgh

Yesterday I was going to write a blog about two halfwits, whining on about how unfined cask beer by some great breweries will bring the cask market to it's knees because how could anyone possibly tell the difference between a cracking unfined pint and a beer thats in poor condition. I refuse to give them any credence however. If you want to be stupid, do it in your own time.

I then considered writing a blog about CAMRA and there latest refusal to halt their own demise. Then I realised I was delighted by it, so I could just leave it be and enjoy watching them untie the painter and drift off in to the wide ocean of irrelevance.

It then occurred to me that may be I could write something more positive than pointing out the abject stupidity of others, or highlighting the death of an national institution due to it's own incompetence and miserable failings. (seriously, just support ALL British brewing, how could it possibly hurt you).

So I thought about all the beer that has been gradually sourced for the new Fuller Thomson bar in Edinburgh. Fuller Thomson provide a halfway house of micro and macro beers, a rough split of 10 and 10 in most of their bars. I admit to not being a fan of this at first, and just falling short of arguments with the owners as to what the split should be. After trips to Sweden and the US however I will happily hold my hands up and say 'My bad, I was wrong'.

Sadly for the beer geeks and craft lovers, niche beers are still just that, niche. Such a tiny percentage of the market. Those people live in their craft world (I'm one of them) saturated by all our amazing beer chat that we believe that it is actually far bigger than it is. I'm stunned that people are still 'discovering' BrewDog, but they are. There is much work still to do.

However, any one who has been in the Holyrood 9a on a Tuesday night will testify, the Fuller Thomson format works. It really is all things to all people (some staunch cask lovers might suggest that is not the case, but 4 cask lines usually with interesting beers on is pretty good) with an eclectic beer range, and a fantastic food offering in a nice environment. What's not to like.

So the new bar is called The Southern on South Clerk Street and whilst some of the other sites have seen some pretty cool beers in them, like Dark Star Critical Mass, Lovibonds 69, Harvieston Ola Dubh 12 and Moor Somerland Gold on keg the Southern has an opening list that literally relieves itself all over any previous FT beer list.

The intention was not to go overboard on the niche beers. Whoops. This is the list....

Hardknott Vitesse Noir
Brooklyn Socrachi Ace
Lovibonds Lager
Summer Wine Brewing Co. Maelstrom Double IPA
Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA
Williams Blackball Stout

The Kernel Export Stout
Luckie Ales Dark Mild
Thornbridge Pedro Jimenez aged Bracia
Fyne Ales Jarl

Beer that will be waiting in the wings includes:
Uncommon Brewers Bacon Brown Ale
Six Point Atlantic Antic
Several Rogue beers
Lovibonds 69 and Dirty 69
Summer Wine Diablo, Teleporter and other stuff I can't remember, all on keg.
Highland's new US style IPA
Fyne Ales Davaar Black and Blonde (which will probably make it on on the opening night)
...and lots lots more.

I was told 'Jarl's not new when I showed a friend this list. No it's not, but it is the best sub 4% beer in Scotland (arguably the UK). I think that justifies any inclusion.

Opening night is April 16th (even the builder seemed to think that was OK), it's a Monday, so my advice is you take Tuesday off work. And Wednesday. And Thursday morning.

As for me, I start a new job tomorrow and I'm very much looking forward to it. Some very exciting things happening at Williams Bros, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The worst beer I've ever had

Name the best beer you've ever had, now. Right, what is it? Still thinking aren't you.

I asked myself the same question a while ago predominantly because I could name the worst beer I'd ever had without hesitation. I didn't need to think about it, I knew it. I could still taste the damn thing.

The worst beer I'd ever had was called Macbeth by a Scottish brewery called Deeside and it was at best undrinkable. It was two years ago and I was in a bar called The Grill in Aberdeen on Union St. I had never had a Deeside beer before but I liked the pump clip and it wasn't Duechars, so I ordered a half. I left 9 10th's of it and all I remember is a hideous sugary liquid that should never have been called beer.

I've had a lot of beer since then. I've had plenty of beer I didn't really like but nothing provided a flavour that instantly transported me back to The Grill. Until last Wednesday.

The offending product this time was called Titan and apparently it is an 'Imperial Stout'. It is brewed by a small Scottish brewery called, erm, Deeside.

When I saw that the brewery who had made the worst beer I'd ever had had produced an Imperial Stout (on balance probably my favourite style of beer) I was intrigued. I'd avoided Deeside beers since that first experience but this I had to try. I waited several days for it to come on, and armed with some friends we pottered down. I was genuinely excited. I was excited because an Imperial Stout, whilst not being the easiest style to totally nail is a pretty difficult style to make a complete and utter balls of. How good or bad could it possibly be, it's a big stout! You don't see too many on cask in these parts and at 9% I had visions of Highland's Orkney Porter. I thought I knew what to expect, I was wrong.

Disappointed doesn't come close. It isn't an Imperial Stout, it's sort of ruby red in colour. It had that same repulsive sugary flavour that dominated the Macbeth. No chocolate notes, no roasted bitterness, no viscosity, no depth. Just a fairly thin mess of sugar. It smelt and tasted of burnt strawberries. It was, as one of my friends commented, revolting.

I feel a little bad because may be Deeside make some great beers and I've just been really unlucky. My overwhelming feeling however is that a beer like that should never find it's way in to anyone's bar. The brewer must have tasted it so I can only surmise that one of two things happened. 1. Christ it's bad but we need to sell it, or 2. Christ that's good, let's get selling. I'm not sure which is more worrying.

It has provided myself and my 3 friends with an experience we will never forget. It is by far the worst 'beer' I have ever tasted.

In the interest of balance we shared a Marble Decadence about half an hour later. Divine!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The ignorance and arrogance of the luddites

I've just had a long chat with a good mate regarding unfined beer. He owns a brewery, one of the best and most progressive of the UK micro-breweries in fact and together we waxed lyrical about the accentuated flavours of unfined beer compared to the fined stuff.

We didn't say that beer was 'better' unfined, we just said the flavours were bigger and the mouth feel fuller. Unfined beer is definitely very different to fined beer in terms of taste, flavour, mouth feel and obviously appearance.

One tweet I read today from a CAMRA stalwart was 'unfined beer is an acting clever fad which brings nothing by way of flavour, confuses people and IS for geeks'. Apparently this person knows about beer, which I found quite surprising.

Firstly unfined beer is not a 'fad' in the same way that CAMRA will become very disappointed when they realise that craft keg isn't a fad either. CAMRA will cotton on to this at the same time they realise they have been irrelevant to the current fast moving UK micro scene for a quite some time.

Secondly unfined beer tastes VERY different to fined beer, it gives the beer a much bigger flavour. To say it does nothing in terms of flavour is very wrong. It's not your opinion, it's wrong. It is factually incorrect.

Thirdly, unfined beer does NOT confuse people (nor does unfiltered keg beer either, just to point that out). We have been doing taste tests in the Stockbridge Tap and the staff have been giving the customers all the information they need, including leaving samples of each beer in front of the taps to allow them to see the difference. They explain the differing aspects of the beer, then they allow the customer to taste the beer. The results? The unfined beer has been WAY more popular. If your customers are confused you're giving them no information, and that's the fault of the staff and the venue, not the brewer. That said, if you're a brewer wanting to trial something different, pick the right pub and publican.

Fourthly, unfined beer is NOT for geeks. It's for anyone interested in seeing what the difference between fined and unfined beer is. The beer world is changing and more people than CAMRA would like to hear about are genuinely interested in where their beer comes from, what it's made from and why it's different from another beer. CAMRA can disgree with that all they like, but I sell contemporary beer all day everyday for a living, and I know I'm right. I see daily changes in our industry.

The production of unfined beer is about nothing other than choice, something it seems CAMRA are keen to stamp out. The whole 'craft' movement (I dislike the term, but it provides a useful reference point so I'll use it for this) is based around choice, education, passion, diversity and most importantly great beer in as many formats as possible to anyone who is interested. We're not interested in dictating to drinkers, we simply give them a choice. Why? Because WE want a choice too. WE want to drink great beer and sometimes we want it cold and carbonated, sometimes unfined, sometimes filtered, sometimes not.

CAMRA advocate few if any of those things and actively try to bash forward thinking breweries down. As another tweet said 'There you go ****, all you need to do is educate your customers, or just give them what they want'. That's indicative of the CAMRA attitude, they think they can prescribe what drinkers want, without ever asking them. CAMRA say that beer should be clear and CAMRA say beer needs to be sessionable, and CAMRA say blah blah blah. CAMRA are nothing more than a self serving organisation more interested in their own pointless awards and stuffy predilections than actually asking the beer drinker what they would like.

Another amusing and nonsensical arguement I read was that unfined beer was an excuse for breweries to refuse to take back ullages. I can't remember the last time I had a call asking for beer to be uplifted, our beer is made properly and goes out in the condition any good publican would expect. Every so often you have a production issue, it happens and it's more likely to happen to a small brewer. That's the way of things. However, we're not going to make rubbish beer and then just say it's unfined, how would that benefit us as a producer?  Moreover  we're proud of our beers, and our directors, sales team and head brewer have more passion than to use a cynical ploy to try to punt out sub standard beer. If that is your experience of breweries as a publican, stop using those breweries and use breweries with more integrity.

I despair of CAMRA, the only negative comments about this unfined beer movement have been from CAMRA luddites. I'll tell you all now, you mean absolutely nothing to the majority of breweries who are leading the charge for new and exciting beers. The wild growth of our niche industry is testament to that. You can spout your arrogant ignorant propoganda all you like, but great beer talks a lot louder than an out of touch brigade of irrelevant dinosaurs who just can't accept that their fight is over, the battle is won and the war has moved on. The industry doesn't need CAMRA anymore, we don't care what you say or what you think. We're not interested in your rhetoric.

There is a new animal in our bars these days, an informed, intelligent new wave of interested beer drinker. A drinker who wants new experiences, wants to be amazed, educated, enthralled and engaged. We'll cater for them, because we share the same philosophy.

CAMRA can continue to give them 'what they want' without ever asking them.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Breweries to watch out for in 2012

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately regarding the 'breweries to look out for in 2012' and I suppose it all depends on who you are and what you want from a brewery as to who you should be paying attention to.
A lot of them seem to be local specific, which makes sense if you're concentrating on microbreweries.

These are the breweries I will be looking at with interest this year, the breweries that I expect to do exciting things, grow or divert from their current tune and beat a new rhythm. A lot of them are established breweries, but breweries don't have to be new for them to be interesting.

1. The Kernel

Best brewery in the UK? I think so, and I think they are by a considerable distance. I'm not interested in the arguements about brewing one off beers and core ranges, volume producing etc. When I open a beer and it makes me sing on the inside I tend to think the brewer has done a good job. The Kernel beers do this more than any other brewery, so for me they are hands down the UK's beer producer.
This year will be an interesting time for The Kernel. A new kit is going in (Evin tweeted this morning a picture of it arriving) vastly increasing the capacity, I believe to 20bbl. For me this makes the Wizard of Druid St (I might have bastardised a nickname there, but I heard someone saying that or something similar) and his team the guys to watch.
More kit, more capacity, more staff, more beer, more distribution, more more more. More of this I can cope with.

Will the new kit and the volume affect quality and impact of the beers? Having met Evin a few times I think it is fair to say that he is not a man in a rush. I have no fear, only rabid excitment.

2. Highland Brewing Co.

In my opinion Rob Hill is the best brewer in Scotland. If you want your beer to be in exactly the condition you expect it to be in, when you expect it to be in that condition and you want your beer to be faultless then Rob is your man. The fact that Highland win almost every Scottish beer award they enter every year with virtually the same beers, is testament to the fact that if you're after cask ale the rest are still quite a way behind (Fyne Ales aside).
The beer market is beginning to change however, and Rob's son Lewis is champing at the bit to do some new things. They recently announced a new 9% Imperial Stout (not sure how that will differ from the Imperial Porter, but I'm sure time will tell) and having had a few chats with Lewis recently I'm quite excited by what is to come.

3. Brodies

Sometime in 2011 James Brodie took on a new recruit, Jonathon Queally. Jonathon is a stalwart of the London craft beer consumption scene and if I recall correctly, is addicted to Mikkeller. It appears Jonathon brews with the same passion and nihilistic enthusiasm that he drinks with. The brewery are apparently solely responsible for the worlds exciting hop shortage, which is a phrase that I like hearing. The Dalston Black IPA was a triumph and the collaboration with the Kernel 'Stella for Breakfast' was one of my beers of 2011. Expect great things.

4. Hardknott

This is based on one beer, Vitesse Noir. The Hardknott branding is a bit too 'BrewDog' and the beers thus far have left me not cold, but only lukewarm. Sort of fake style over limited substance. Vitesse Noir is an exceptional beer. I drank my first one with a friend and had a reaction I've never had from a beer before, silence. For a good 5 seconds neither of us said a word. If you can get that response you can make great beer and Hardknott is a small company clearly finding it's feet. On that basis I'll be watching closely and will happily try the rest of the range again.
The move to key keg products would probably benefit the majority of the beers due to the style. (Go on cask boys, have a crack at that statement).

5. Hawkshead

Owned by a very straight talking former journalist (Alex Brodie) with beers brewed by a man who has clearly become one with his brewkit (Matt Clarke) Hawkshead are in prime position to become a byword for quality in regional brewing. They aren't that big yet, but their beers are of the quality that they could become that way ober the next few years.
The core range is of the Highland/Fyne Ales level of quality and you'd be hard pushed to find a better session beer in the UK than Windermere Pale Ale. They already keg a lager, so expect to see more keg products as Matt starts to get more creative. The 2011 Brodies Reserve was an excellent dalliance in to whisky aging.

6. Moor

Justin Hawkes Somerset brewery is now a 20bbl craft beer haven with beers going all over the UK through the Mitchell and Butler cask ale network. Few cask clips make me go 'Ohhh' but when I see a Moor one, I do get a little bit giddy. My first experience of Moor was through some bottles kindly sent to me by Rich Burhouse and from that point I've been a massive fan. JJJ IPA is a stonker of a beer, although anything over 7.5% will now be for export only, thanks to the UK Government's tax on people with taste.
Moor produce kegged beer, they produce unfined cask beer and they are coming to a pub near you.... if you're lucky.

7. Camden Town Brewery.

The desire for growth at Camden is almost BrewDogesque. The man at the helm seemingly has money to burn and a very definite idea of where his brand is heading, up. The appointment of Mark Dredge at a time where social media plays such an important part in the growth of small breweries is a savvy one and if you head to the brewery you'll be able to hear Mark saying things like 'I'm not allowed to touch that' whenever he is near brewing equipment. I empathise wholeheartedly.
However, since his start date there has seemingly been a slight and positive shift in image as 'Camden Ink' is testament to. Speaking to the brewing team you get the feeling that increased capacity is going to allow them to come out of their collective shells and start brewing beers outside the core range. What they can produce remains to be seen, but they are collecting a team who on paper can really produce the goods, and Camden Ink is an excellent beer to start the revolution.

8. Summer Wine Brewery

Mad mad mad mad mad mad mad mad mad mad mad people. From the bizzare beer names (wait for the new one, it's completely bonkers) to the unrivalled desire to innovate. Whether it's beer or equipment you get the impression there is almost nothing these two can't design or make between them. Still small, still working on a kit held together with bungy straps SWB manage to produce a ludicrous number of beers. I am sure that brewery is some sort of TARDIS.
This is a brewery still finding their feet, but with a very definite goal. A brewer who is now nailing consistency helps and James seems to be on it these days. Small breweries need time to grow. I would hang my hat on SWB producing the most exciting beer of 2012.

9. Buxton

I'll confess to knowing the square route of knacker all about this brewery, but the beers I've had so far hold enough to make me think this is a brewery on the up. The Black Rocks I had on cask was awesome and the Axe Edge is a cracking double IPA. Former Thornbridge brewer James Kemp is at the helm, and when you look at where some past Thornbridge employees have ended up (BrewDog, Epic) you can justifiably have high hopes.The branding is a little way off, but small breweries have to start somewhere. Getting the beers right is key, they seem to have done that.

10. Black Isle Brewing Co.

I considered leaving us out of this because I didn't want this blog to become semi advertorial. I then considered what would I do as some one impartial. I'd put us in, and much higher up too.
The aquisition of Colin Stronge from Marble has had unforseen results and it's pretty evident to everyone I speak to about this coming year that I am stupidly excited. You don't have to like every beer your brewery produces, but you do have to believe in every beer you produce. If you think one of your beers isn't up to scratch, you have to change it. We had some good beers and some great beers. We also had a couple of shockers that for reasons we couldn't explain sold really well. Colin has gone about the slowly slowly catchy monkey business of make subtle changes with each brew to gradually tweak the beers. There is only one we are not happy with now, and that's the next change to be made.
We have one cracking distribution deal in place with Adnams and hopefully another with a very well known purveyor of craft beer coming soon. The brand and beers are evolving.

So they are my 10 breweries to watch in 2012. I have absolutely no doubt I'm wrong. There are plenty of other breweries I will be watching such as Magic Rock, Thornbridge, BrewDog, Fyne Ales, Tempest etc. It's an exciting time.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Golden Pints; Innit

My twopence worth....

I am going to retain some credibility and not include any Black Isle beers, otherwise Black Stout would win everything....

Best UK draught (Cask or Keg) beer:
Winner: Durham White Stout
Runner Up: BrewDog Mr Squirrel

Best UK bottle or canned beer
Winner: The Kernel Double Black
Runner Up: Thornbridge Raven

Best Overseas bottle or canned beer
Winner: A Vintage Cantillon, around 30 yrs old and covered in bird shit
Runner Up:  Struisse Black Damnation Mocha Bomb

Best Overseas Draught beer
Winner: The Black Rooster Imperial Stout aged in oak and Islay
Runner Up: St Eriks whisky aged Porter

Best Overall beer
Winner: BrewDog 5am Saint (awesome in any format)
Runner Up: Thornbridge Raven (again.....)

Best Pump Clip or label
Winner: Magic Rock/Dark Star - Rock Star
Runner Up: Summer Wine Brewery Cohort

Best UK brewery
Winner: The Kernel
Runner Up: Summer Wine Brewery

Best Overseas Brewery
Winner: De Struisse
Runner Up: Cantillon

Pub/Bar of the Year
Winner: BrewDog (pick one)
Runner Up: Caley Sample Rooms (Edinburgh)

Beer Festival of the Year
Winner: Stockholm
Runner Up: Stockbridge Taps festival in Sept. Awesome selection

Supermarket of the Year
This is an oxymoron

Independent retailer of the year
Winner: Vino Wines
Runner Up: Cornelius Beer and Wine

Online retialer of the year
Winner: BrewDog......just kidding. My Brewery Tap
Runner Up: Dunno, don't buy beer from anyone else

Best Website
Winner: BrewDog
Runner Up: Anchors new one is nice

Best beer twitterer
Winner: Simon Johnson
Runner Up: Zak Avery

In 2012 I'd most like to
Knob Kelly Rowland, but as that's highly unlikely, how about brew a decent beer with Bruce and manage not to die in the half Iron Man

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Kernel: UK's best brewery?

Whilst deep in beer discussion earlier in the week I was asked which brewery was my favourite. I felt like a catholic mother being asked which of her 13 sons she prefered. How do you choose?

I went away and thought about it over a period of a few days and realised that I don't have a 'favourite' brewery. I have favourite beers, but not a favourite brewery. I did come to the conclusion that if I had a favourite brewery it would be a British one. I love Cantillon, Great Divide, Dechutes, Struisse and Avery but I'll always be more excited about a new beer from a top British micro. May be I'm a little bit patriotic after all.

The answer to 'what is your favourite beer' is fairly simple, because I'm sure we all have favourite examples of certain styles. My favourite pale ale is Goldeneye for example. Yes I know the company I work for makes it, but this is the beer that made me think 'I want to work for them'. It's a pale ale, but very different from any other. I love the uniqueness of the flavour.

Other favourites are Hawkshead Windermere Pale Ale, Lovibonds 69IPA, Dark Star Carafa Jade, The Kernel Imperial Stout, Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, BrewDog Tokyo, Green jack Baltic Trader, Old Chimneys Good King Henry, Cantillon Rose De Gambrinus etc etc.

So i thought that if I don't have a 'favourite brewery', what do I consider to be the 'the UK's best brewery'? It's a subjective adjective in that context, 'best' meaning what? May be Green King? Their IPA is the top cask seller in the UK, that makes them the best, right? May be Carling, who in 2009 sold 4.1 billion pints in the UK, they are surely the 'best' brewery as they sell more beer than any other in the UK? Is it John Smiths? No, it's not.

The answer came to me whilst drinking 3 bottles of The Kernel. It's The Kernel.

I have recently had conversations with other beer folk regarding The Kernel and I've been parly to some interesting comments, such as; 'It's not difficult to produce one off beers', 'it's not hard to make a good high abv beer', 'it's actually quite easy to make a beer like this'. My tongue is usually bitten, because my automatic response is to try to blurt out 'well you fucking do it then'.

I am not a brewer, so may be these comments are perfectly valid. My reasoning for thinking that these comments are invalid is that if it's so easy to make great one off beers, how do the vast majority of brewers fail. I suspect because it's not that easy. It marries well with the equally invalid arguement that it's easy to brew great beer if you never make the same beer twice. something else I've heard several times. My suggestion is that may be it's easy to brew great beer if you're a great brewer with great idea's. I rather think that has an awful lot to do with it.

The criticism is all born out of a little envy of course, and that's no bad thing really. It's more satisfying to pick holes in people doing great things rather than admit that they are just better at what you do than you are.

Anyway, why do i think The Kernel are the UK's best brewery? Wow factor *. Not every beer has it, but the ratio of 'wow' beers to the 'meh' beers is far greater than any other brewery I have tried.  I have said in the past that above about 6.7% The Kernel are in a league of their own, but below that abv threshold the beers lack the impact. In my opinion at least. Plenty disagree, but as I rarely see let alone drink a Kernel beer below 6.7% it's fairly immaterial.

We drank three last night; Black, Double Black and the Citra/Riwaka IPA. Three beers, three 'wows', with the biggest by far being reserved for the Double Black. An absolutely astounding beer.

These were added to my already considerable list of Kernel 'wows' which include the Coffee IPA, the original Black IPA, Imperial Brown Stout, something that was loaded with Galaxy and blew my face apart, Citra IPA,  Imperial Stout, and S.C.A.N.S IPA.

I am aware that I am not even close to having drunk every beer produced by The Kernel, but to provide that many wows out of may be only 15-20 beers I've tried is more than a little bit impressive.

There is a element of genius in the production of these beers. If it was easy to make beer this good everyone would be, but they aren't, so it clearly isn't.

Imagine how huge they could be with a big brewery, a consistent large volume core range AND the experimental nouse that makes them so special..... I doubt the wait to find out will be long.

*Wow is hard to define, but as I'm sure you know, when you drink a lot of different beers you get used to saying 'That's a good beer' or 'Yeah, I like that a lot' but rarely do you go 'fucking hell, that's amazing'. That's what I mean by 'wow factor', it illicits a response you never get used to.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

What the high strength beer duty actually means

Yesterday I over heard someone say 'Who cares about a tax on high strength beers, it's just a bunch of extreme brewers and beer geeks'. The multi-layered ignorance of that statement led to an outpouring of empassioned vitriol. I wasn't happy.

Was he right though, does this just affect a bunch of extreme brewers and beer geeks? No, but the effects do not just relate to personal fiscal issues  or the wider reaching economic implications either, they relate to things that are far less tangible; Expression, creativity, passion, entrepreneurship, pride, invention, personal adventure, pushing boundaries.

The financial implications are ones we can all understand. A £4 bottle of beer over 7.5% is now £5. If you buy one bottle per week, not such a big deal. If you buy 10, that figure just added £40 to your monthly outgoings. That £40 might not sound a lot, I mean £40 a month isn't much right? Well, yes it is. For folk with kids and responsiblities, that £40 is quite often spent elsewhere already, an extra £40 for something you already buy means you start buying less, or even stop buying it. I have no responsibilities aside from a dog and I'll be buying less beer.

So we buy less high abv beer and the readers of the Daily Express who believe the man driving Diana's car was fueled by Fullers Vintage will clap loudly and feel proud that we as a nation are making a stand against the heathen beer geeks who have such a negative social impact. Of course, because we buy less high abv beer, microbrewerys make less money, because they sell less beer at high margin and then independent retailers have smaller beer choice because they can't sell it to the customer. So now we've not only impacted on the consumer, we are impacting the producer and the distributor. So the negative social externalities increase, not decrease. Not sure Mr Pigou had that in mind when he developed his taxation system....

Surely though, less people drinking high abv beers reduces the social costs brought about by the use of emergency services, public bodies like the NHS, insurance costs to repair the damage caused by rampaging drunkards? If the government had made any attempt to understand the difference between a bottle of Great Divide Yeti and Carlsberg Special Brew they might have realised that instead of solving a problem, they have actually created one.

The sad thing about this duty hike is that it is designed to combat a problem that barely exists, the negative social externalities brought about by the consumption of high strength beers. I am aware that certain elements of society consume cans of Tennents Super in parks and shout randomly at passers by. However, they are not in the park shouting at passers by BECAUSE they are drinking high strength beer, and pricing them out of high strength beer will not eliminate them from the park or change their behaviour when they start drinking supermarket value vodka instead. Treating the effects has no impact on the cause.

All those involved with microbrewing know that our industry is currently bouyant, we are bucking the global economic trend. Unfortunately we have a chancellor with a degree in modern history making economic decisions he doesn't really understand (for example, for those who don't know what 'quantitative easing' is, it's essentially a last ditch attempt to reverse a conventional financial process because you're heading into economic meltdown. Potential for failure is high and means banks could stop lending, or inflation goes through the roof - laymens terms).

I don't for a minute think this duty increase has been implemented to combat negative social externalities, and it most definitely not an example of pigouvian taxation. Those who were consulted for the Review of Alcohol Taxation were the likes of Heineken, Ab-Inbev, Molson Coors, SAB-Miller. Also, some Supermarket chains. Who has been left almost completely unaffected by this duty rise? Big breweries and supermarkets. Surprising? No.

Who has been affected by this? Small breweries (the ones who are bucking the economic trend, proving themselves to be more viable in the current climate and therefore worthy of government support) and independent retailers. The Chancellor said he was going to focus on micro-economics to get the country out of the recession, which is pretty meaningless anyway, but then makes a decision which absolutely the antithesis of that statement. Ergo, the chancellor is a gutless twat who is more interested in appeasing the lobbyists of big business (much of which is based overseas) than helping small local businesses grow enabling local economies to become bouyant and have a positive macroeconomic effect.

The very worst aspect though is this duty inhibits everything we hold dear to us in Britain. It inhibits our spirit, our passion for innovation and design, our love for striving for the best, for pushing ourselves creatively and it tells the non 'beer geeks' that high strength beers are bad, but 5% lager is good. It sends all the wrong messages to all the wrong people.

As usual, rich clueless people have made a decision which is wrong but easy, rather than making a decision that is right, but hard. Fuckwits.