So, a couple of days ago, I mentioned an article that "The Beer Wench" has on her website. Her first sentence pretty much sums up the whole point of the article: "If you are a self-respecting woman and, after reading this post, you still want to drink corporate beer. Well, then. I don’t know what to think."
I am not a self-respecting woman. I am pretty much a male-chauvinist pig, so I actually enjoyed looking through the adds that the Wench was complaining about. I'm not proud of it, but I am totally guilty of being the kind of guy who is meant to be the target audience of those ads. However, and I guess this shows why I will never understanding marketing or advertising on a philosophical level, I don't buy any of those beers, and no matter how many of these ads I see, they won't change my mind.
I spend much of my Sunday afternoons during football season in front of the TV. I also watch a bunch of hockey. TV sporting events tend to show lots of beer commercials. Usually, I use the DVR to zoom through most of the commercials, but if I glimpse one of those "Here we go" Bud Light commercials, I will quite often go back and watch it. Actually, I do the same thing for most of the BMC (Bud / Miller / Coors) commercials. I find the mega-breweries do really entertaining TV commercials. Some objectify women, but most of them I enjoy just because they are amusing. So, the corporate beer advertising people did their job and got my attention. But again, I do not buy their product. So, really, what is the point?
So, the Beer Wench got me thinking about why I buy the beers that I buy.
The last beer I bought (TommyKnocker Cocoa Porter) was because I wanted a beer to use as a comparison of my own chocolate beer (which I brewed this past weekend, by the way). Lately, that might be the number one reason I buy a commercial beer, because I am brewing something similar and I want to be able to make some sort of comparison.
The beers I bought before the Cocoa Porter six pack were some of the Lips of Faith series from New Belgium Brewery. I bought those, because I was looking to buy some Eric's Ale or La Folie, and the liquor store did not have any of those in stock. At GABF, I really enjoyed those 2 sour beers and wanted to grab some to enjoy at home. Since the liquor store didn't have the ones I wanted, I decided that I might as well give these other beers a try. New Belgium got my attention by giving me a beer that I enjoyed, and closed the sale because they had the benefit of the doubt based on my experience other beers they had done.
New Belgium is a pretty big craft brewery, but it is tiny in comparison to any corporate mega-brewery. I don't ever remember seeing a TV ad for New Belgium, and I know for certain I've never seen a scantily dressed chick try to sell me a New Belgium beer. But, I've probably bought more New Belgium beer in the past 10 years than any other beer.
Boston Brewing Company (Sam Adams) is a huge craft brewery (it is actually on the verge of technically being too big to fall under the definition of craft brewery). I have seen Sam Adams TV commercials, but never one that compares to the entrainment value of BMC commercials. All the Boston Brewing commercials are pretty much the boring spots with Jim Koch talking about quality and taste and innovation or how his company is a group of home-brewers at heart. Jim is never dressed in a bikini in any of the TV advertisements I've seen (thank goodness). But, I do buy various Sam Adams beers because I know I can get a bunch of styles, and I know that I have liked the taste of most of what I have tried from Jim's brewery.
Another big reason I buy the beers that I do is because they have been suggested to me by someone whose opinion I respect. Quite often this is someone like the Beer Wench or one of the beer bloggers you see on the right side of this blog. Or, it could be a beer spotlighted on one of the Brewing Network shows. Or, it might be one from the Zymurgy's Best Beers in America poll. I have also been know to try a beer that the Beer Model asked me to try (don't tell my wife that I respect her opinion on beer).
So, I guess I'm wondering: does anyone actually buy beer because of amusing or sexually suggestive commercials or whatever clever hook the marketing people can come up with? I guess the question can be expanded to other products as well, but beer is really a great example. I think beer sales in our country is pretty flat over the past few years. Craft beers are doing very well (double digit growth in sales), and the mega - brews are down in sales. So, it seems pretty apparent that the clever commercials don't necessarily translate to growth in sales.
Who knows? This seems like a fundamental flaw in corporate advertising, but what do I know?
BTW ... I brewed my Bluefield Chocolate Ale this past Sunday. Fermentation is going well today, and the chocolate aroma is very nice (and strong). One thing I did not take into account in the recipe is how much the unsweetened cocoa would increase the starting gravity reading. Based on the fermentable sugars and the lactose in the recipe, I expected an OG of 1.061. The pre-boil gravity was pretty much right on track, so I am assuming that without the cocoa, I would be pretty close to 1.061. With the cocoa, my OG reading was 1.088. That is a huge difference. I am assuming that the cocoa is all unfermentable, so I am looking at a really thick, full-bodied beer. I'm afraid that will be disgustingly thick in a beer. I won't know for sure until I can give it a taste, and that won't be for awhile, so I guess I'll have to just RDWHAHB. Assuming I am right, the very first adjustments I'll have to make are to leave out the lactose and to significantly reduce the amount of cocoa. I should probably make my mash temperature lower as well.
But, my sister did ask for a beer that doesn't taste like beer, so maybe this will be exactly what she is looking for. I think she likes hot chocolate and chocolate milk. I'm thinking this will be similar in the mouth-feel to chocolate milk. I guess we will have to see.