Once upon a time


Oh no, not again. Look, I want so badly to write something positive about DB. I’ve said time and time again that I don’t care who makes good beer, so long as it IS good beer. I’d heard exciting things about Single Source – a beer from DB that talked about malt and hops as real ingredients, with individual flavours, and a story to tell. But then, I heard the marketing spin.

I honestly just don’t know where to start. Perhaps with the two quotes which got me the most steamed. This well-written article contained the following quote: “But according to Monteith’s head brewer Tony Mercer, the story of beer hasn’t really been told”. Well, gee. I wonder why that could be? Perhaps because DB is so intent on pushing lowest-common-denominator style over educational substance for its brands. And they are brands. Not beers. I can’t remember the last time I heard a press release from DB which talked about the flavours of the individual beers being promoted. Lucky for us that Single Source is here to do what nobody else has ever done and tell us the story of beer! Once upon a time, children, beer was invented by DB! Of course, plenty of people have told the story of beer. If only most of the pubs in NZ weren’t locked down by our big duopoly, perhaps that story would be far more widely known. Small brewers love to talk about their beer. Actualy TALK about the beer – the flavours, the ingredients, the passion. Not just the image that they say drinking that beer will give you.

The second thing that bugs me, and the thing that brought this to my attention was the other quote from the above article: “So Grant Caunter, DB’s innovations guy, believes this level of traceability in a beer is a world-first.” – Except Keith Galbraith has been doing it for ages. Sorry, it’s a Flash site, so you’ll have to click Beers, then Our Beers. Read all about the level of pride Keith takes in his beer, and the detail he provides about the origins of all his ingredients. And Keith is just the most high profile of the small brewers who care about their ingredients. I don’t think I’ve ever met a craft brewer in NZ who didn’t care about what ingredients they use, and where they come from. Yep, DB’s Grant Caunter. Nice to see you innovating there. Good job. Have a Tui on me. Seriously, this rubbish is what passes for innovation? Step 1. Nick someone else’s idea. Step 2. Chuck a massive marketing budget at it. Step 3. Boast about how innovative you are, and what a service to beer you’re doing by telling people the story of beer. Once upon a time, children, we stopped dumbing down beer quite so much as we usually do, then we took credit for “telling the story of beer” via someone else’s idea.

Now, moving on from the blatantly misleading, and into the just weird. These snippets just prove how stupid DB think we beer drinkers really are.

It’s important to know the elements that go into making a beer. If you don’t understand the source, you’re not going to understand the finished beer.

Once upon a time, children, we tried to tell people that they couldn’t understand any of our other products, since we don’t tell them the source of the ingredients that go into them.

A beer that didn’t need to rely on hype to be appreciated.

Once upon a time, children, we managed to imply that all our other beers are just hype, while hyping our new beer. Which isn’t. Honest.

The great thing about Single Source is that nothing is hidden.

Once upon a time, children, we explained that Single Source is not hiding any nasty surprises, unlike our other beers!

I understand it’s a pricey drop too, due in part to the black light excluding bottle. Well, good on DB for realising that light is the enemy of beer. I’m sure they will immediately be packaging their entire range in black glass too, so that none of their other beers are tainted by light strike! After all, a company that knows this would never package their fine products in UV-admitting clear glass, now would they?

The bright side, at least, is that by making it acceptable to pay $10 for a beer in a bar, DB may help some of their craft brewing cousins, who don’t have massive economies of scale and marketing budgets, and need to charge $8-10 a pint to make money. Here’s hoping that catches on and the story of beer ends with all craft brewers living happily ever after.


6 thoughts on “Once upon a time

  • James Andre

    Oh great, another lager.

    I will have to contact them an inform them of other beers where you can “confidently trace the entire product journey, right back to the paddock the ingredients came from”.

  • Teh Bear

    While I agree that this is somewhat disingenuous, at least they’re promoting the idea that beer ingredients matter, they’re promoting that specialty beers are worth more, and they’re promoting people to think more critically about their beer.

    It may have been filtered through a PR mincer but many of the issues about brewing are at least partially there ready for craft brewers to leverage.

    The pint may in fact be half full. They’re at least joining the debate by buying a round. They may be buying a round of Tui, but at least they’re trying, right? Kinda? Sorta?

  • greig Post author

    Welcome to the blog, Teh Bear! I was worried you might vanish in a puff of Irish financial dissolution.

    You’re correct, of course. What rankles for me though is that brewers, drinkers, and SOBA have been pushing this message as a way of promoting diversity and quality for a long time, then DB decides to jump on the bandwagon, and in doing so claims nobody else has thought of it. I find it insulting.

    Here’s hoping the outcome is a wider appreciation of beer, and not just a brainwashed army of drinkers who simply shift from Monteiths Original to Single Source, doing nothing for beer in general.

  • Stu

    I think they’re actually wanting to move drinkers from Speight’s Summit. The drinkers who want to get their hands on whatever is “hot”. In politics they call those people swing voters. In neighbourhoods they just call them swingers.

    The great thing about craft beer drinkers is that most of them, barring financial catastrophe, are basically lost to the big two brewers. They are not monogomous… not even for a short while. They just move from one-night-stand to one-night-stand… and the sex is always spectacular.

  • Nez

    I just tried Single Source. Read this article in November and bought a box after reading a full page marketing spiel in the Liquorland flyer, convinced me enough that a big brewer is actually TRYING to sell us the ingredients not just the marketing hype which appealed to me enough to buy some. It’s not that flash. Try again Monteiths, Original is actually better still! Must be the funky chemicals they add to it? heh :P

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