Dish of the Day: Could new brews win over craft beer drinkers?

Will Coldwell

beer Dish of the Day: Could new brews win over craft beer drinkers? Cask ale brewers don’t come much bigger than Marston’s. In fact the brewery, which also owns thousands of pubs across the country, is the biggest cask ale brewer in the world. So, when a brewery like Marston’s announces, as it did last week, that it’s going to launch its first keg lager in over 30 years, you can be certain times are changing in the beer world. The aptly named ‘Revisionist Craft Lager’ says it all really. Marston’s are hoping to get a piece of the action in the flourishing craft beer scene.

They’re certainly not the first major brewery to make such a move. In what is becoming a growing trend, Fuller’s have also announced the launch of a new lager, ‘Frontier’ and are keen to emphasize the ‘craft’ element of it. Head Brewer Rob Topham describes the “natural hands-on approach to brewing” that went into the development of the beer. “The lager’s taste and credibility will appeal to premium lager drinkers who are interested in more flavoursome beer with the characteristics of lager,” he explains.

Brewing giants Molson Coors have gone one step further. They’re so big that they set up an Emerging Markets & Craft Beer Unit. As a result they are launching an entire “Craft Collection” which brings brewers from Franciscan Well, Sharp’s, William Worthington’s and The Blue Moon Brewing Company together under one banner to produce beers for the more discerning drinker.

But could these new brews win over craft drinkers? It’s difficult to tell whether drinkers will lap it up. Many craft beer drinkers enjoy the mystery of their drinks; part of the fun is learning about a beer you previously knew nothing about. If the major brewers overdo the distribution of their craft beers they could easily blow it.

Suddenly the loose definition of craft beer (which really is what makes it so fun) becomes a tricky point of contention. Is the definition of craft more dependent on quantity or quality? Can major brewers ever really make a ‘craft beer’? And will the rapidly expanding craft brewers, such as Brooklyn or Meantime, eventually outgrow the definition themselves?

But while the big players in the global beer trade clearly have dollar signs in their eyes as they eye up the craft scene, the true brewers will always be the one that aren’t in it for the money. While craft brewers should be flattered by the response of the big guns, the most exciting things that are happening with beer aren’t coming from the top, they’re coming from the bottom, as more and more, small but unique breweries pop up across the country. Who needs thousands of barrels anyway when you could just drink one, truly delicious, beer?

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  • FlashFellow

    Marstons – lovely beer !

  • Maori

    Larger and larger-ish beer can be fantastic.

    I current favourite of mine is “Caesar Augustus” by Williams Brothers Brewery, Alloa, Scotland. It’s a lager IPA hybrid and tastes sublime.

  • Rog

    Beware of these big companies and their “craft” beers.

    Here in Oz Woolworths have started selling beer under the Sail and Anchor label.

    The Sail and Anchor was at the forefront of the brewing revolution here.
    Their beers are now bland, bland, bland. Just the sort you’d expect from a big company frightened to offend anybody.

  • jinglebunny

    Make mine as large as you like!

  • Wycombe Dad

    I recently discovered the joys of craft beer visiting Marlow’s Rebellion Brewery – previously most a lager drinker I was immediately hooked, not just the flavour and quality of the product, but the passion and energy that went into the brewing and sales. I’ve learnt a lot more about the history of beer now and it seems like we are entering into a golden age of brewing once again – if the government’s taxes don’t crush the life out of the micro breweries.

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