Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Good Honest Craft Brewery

Well oh dear, it looks like the argument of requiring a definition of ‘craft beer’ is back in full force. To be honest, I’m not going to argue about why it is/isn’t a good/bad idea. It’s boring to be honest. Just let ‘em get on with it.

My focus is on the word ‘craft’ when attached to beer. See, I like beers from many breweries who call themselves ‘craft’ but it can get too much. You see, it’s one thing to say “We are brewing great craft beer” and another to be rubbing the fact that you are most definitely a craft brewery and nobody can say otherwise in my face.

The latter, to me, is a massive turn off.

Recently, Bateman’s Brewery has gone through a dramatic rebrand in line with the current ‘craft beer’ market trends. They’ve swapped their comfortable and traditional style ‘Good Honest Ales’ branding which gives you the image of sitting by the fire in a nice village pub, on a cold winter’s evening with what I believe to be a complete mess.
Batemans old logo

This rebrand has decided to use a cartoon image of a windmill, a frankly ridiculous font and the slogan “Craft Brewers since 1874”.

For me, this dramatic change from traditionalist to new wave branding is a complete turn off. I have been enjoying Bateman’s beers – admittedly for a lot less longer than some of you – for 6 years, since I first was able to visit pubs when I was 18. I always remember seeing the XXXB pump clip, a familiar sight from when my parents would take us to pubs when I was a kid, and finally being able to order a pint of it. The old branding and slogan of “GOOD HONEST ALES” felt warm and homely; it felt like I was a part of the Bateman’s family. I felt like they cared about me, and not their image.

This new branding feels like every previous Christmas has been amazing, you’ve got all of the presents you want, had amazing food and fun times with your family but then this Christmas arrives, you’re excited, you get downstairs and you’re told “Sorry kids, Christmas is cancelled as mummy needs a face lift to fit in with your friends’ younger mummies”.
 
Batemans new logo
It’s image over family values because like ‘mummy’, Batemans have been surviving and indeed thriving for 140 years without their metaphorical (and indeed literal) ‘face lift’. They don’t need to learn the slang of the younger generation, and start calling everyone “bro” or “dude” and talk about how “Awesome” everything is as much as they need to slap the word ‘craft’ on their brand.

I’m not saying in any way, shape or form that if there was an official definition of ‘craft beer’ that Bateman’s wouldn’t fit into that definition, I’m just saying that the family brewery brand is more appealing and  to myself and I’d wager many like minded consumers out there.

I’m also not saying that I’d avoid any beers with the in your face ‘craft’ branding, like Bateman’s have done. I’m just saying that it’s completely unnecessary. I think I would have been a lot more comfortable if Bateman’s would have done what many other regional breweries have and left their core range and main brand image alone, but applied the ‘craft’ branding to a range of new and experimental beers.

I just feel that good beer is good beer, whatever you call it and the word ‘craft’ slapped on a label is becoming less appealing every single day as it’s becoming overused.


Nate

6 comments:

  1. With you 100% Nate. Good honest ales was a wonderful strong statement. (Are the ales no longer honest? or no longer good? or both?)

    The 'craft since 1874' would be fine as a tagline for a time-limited advertising campaign, or for selected craft beers, but to sum up the brewery as a whole? Nope.

    Can I also have a good whinge about the rebranding of Batemans Dark Mild as 'black and white'. What? Haven't they got colour TV in Lincolnshire yet? or is it a novelty stripy beer?

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    1. Cheers Andrea.

      I was thinking about the honest part this morning, and maybe it no longer applies because their crazy biscuit themed beers probably use loads of adjuncts like chocolate, and therefore are slightly dishonest to regular beers?

      Yup, that was also a very poor choice. I can see sales of "Black and White" or Dark Mild plummeting dramatically as long time drinkers move to something else due to confusion.

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    2. "Adjuncts like chocolate" - so is Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout dishonest as it uses vanilla, or Magic Rock Salty Kiss as it uses Gooseberries?

      I'm obviously playing devils advocate to an extent, but calling a beer dishonest because of adjuncts - where those adjuncts are added for flavour not penny-pinching reasons - is a bit of a slippery slope and implies that certain (cool) breweries are allowed to add stuff, but the more established ones arent.

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    3. Was definitely poor phrasing on my part. As you most likely know, I don't mind additives in beer but I think Bateman's would have done a lot better if they kept that to a seperately branded range of beers, then if successful move it into the regular brand.

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    4. "Craft Brewers since" kind of reads to me like the insidious use of "Anno 1366" in Stella's logo. I'm tempted to agree with you with "good honest ales" being a lovely, comforting slogan, but maybe that just doesn't cut it in today's cutthroat beer market?

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    5. Aye, it is very old fashioned which is why they changed it, but old fashioned is also appealing!

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