Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Which giant macro brewer sucks the most?

Just for a bit of fun. Which of the global megacorporations that now control most of the beer market do you think is the most (or least) objectionable?

Like many beer lovers, I don't have much time for big brewers, and a few months ago I sat down and tried to work out which of them I despised the most. I wanted to list their good points and their bad points and then see which came out on top.

I couldn't do it.

Of course, most of the down sides are common to all of them. All have enthusiastically bought up and closed their smaller rivals. All like to create an air of authenticity and tradition for their products which sometimes involves economy with the truth. And most importantly, many of the most heavily promoted products are at best bland and at worst nasty.

But it was finding good points that was the tricky bit. Some were easier than others: Molson Coors got marked down for closing the Bass museum, but marked up again for sacking the people who had closed it, and for showing genuine interest in the brewing heritage they inherited from Bass – more than Bass ever did, at any rate.

Diageo will obviously suck more and more with each St. Patrick's Day that passes. Damned with faint praise, the solitary item in the "positives" column was "They still make Foreign Extra Stout". Heineken did worse than that, having points awarded on the grounds that at least they're not Scottish & Newcastle.

But the "they still make … x" argument became a millstone, chiefly because AB InBev now own a good chunk of relatively decent Belgian and German beers.

I've taken another approach. Indexing. Instead of totting up what they've done in the past, I'll track what they do in the future, the good and the bad.

To be fair, though, I am starting them all at 100. I will not include any historical crimes. Not even AB InBev's ridiculous new Stella Black announced just today. Clean slate as of now. We'll see the result in six months. Go!


  1. What a jolly exercise. So how are you going to be keeping track? Just the usual trade outlets? English-language only? Do travesties Far Away count less than ones near home?

  2. No mention of SABMiller there eh?

  3. Beer Nut, whatever comes to my attention. I welcome notification of any sucky or praiseworthy actions.

    Al, SABMiller is pretty marginal where I am, but feel free to keep me informed of what they get up to.

  4. Cool! I look forward to squealing like the tattle-tale I am.

  5. Oh...you're so mean! Molson Coors have White Shield, and we keep the country's oldest micro brewery working and we brew with 100% British Barley supporting 600 local farmers in more than 50 counties and and we supported getting the museum open again and we have an expert PR machine.......

    Less suckiness please ;o)

  6. ... and on the other hand there's a decades-long history of polluting Colorado and killing its fish. And Caffrey's.

  7. I'd blame Caffrey's on Bass though. Like I said, deeds of the past will not be taken into account, even ongoing ones.

    Kristy gets +1 for engaging with the blogosphere and -1 for bringing up the disingenuous 100% British barley slogan, sum total 0, no change – better luck next time ;)

  8. I'm having difficulty with the concept of beer that 'sucks'. Surely you 'suck' beer so to speak?