What’s Brewing, August – September 2015 – Agony Column

Providing much needed help for the writers to What’s Brewing.Whats Brewing AugSep 15

It’s all rather mundane stuff in August to be honest. The ‘star letter’ from A C-C of Newhall is particularly avant garde though, ‘Internet vital to engage our younger members’ – apparently this is how the younger members communicate but sadly for most CAMRA members there is no description as to what this ‘internet’ is. I have a suspicion that computers could be involved. Seriously though, at their AGM they discover that 11 out of their 500 membership is active, and average age is 51. Nobody is surprised at this stat, but it is sad.

My theory is that all the writers are so old that the kids have flown the nest, grateful to get away. Hence they were on holiday during the submission time for last month – before the schools broke to get a good price. Pontins gets so crowded during the school hols. Now in the September edition we are back to good form.

KR of Beckenham thinks that CAMRA are ‘hell bent on supporting the micros to the detriment of the longer established brewers’. Quite so, who would want to drink a pint of something hand crafted a few miles away when there’s a good reliable pint of Greene King IPA on offer. NW of East London adds a new descriptor, ‘urine coloured’ – for modern pale ales presumably. I have yet to see breweries follow his lead in describing their beers thus, likewise the Farrow & Ball colour cards do not use this. Indeed it is confusing as from personal experience I have seen a number of hues. Several appear to think that CAMRA is becoming far to inclusive, no, not just a laissez faire attitude to craft keg bashing, but cider! Cider is clearly not real ale. AP of Hartlepool mentions ‘cider and other fringe drinks’, NM of Eastleigh suggests that cider drinkers should set up their own organisation.

London Velvet, an investment opportunity?

london-velvetLondon Velvet, a blend of porter and cider, is raising money through the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Should you invest?

London Velvet is made with a porter from the Burtonwood brewery of Thomas Hardy Brewing and Packaging and a cider from Bevisol, both on a contract basis. Not well known names to the general drinking public but both respected contract brewers/cidermakers.

The London Velvet company is involved in the management, distribution, sales and marketing. It is raising a relatively small amount of money and operating on relatively low margins.

It is aiming to tap into the craft beer market yet is made by contract brewers and sold by supermarkets. I can’t see it appealing to the craft beer market without better provenance. Porter and cider are made on a ‘craft’ scale in London – why not use these? I can see it filling a niche gap on the supermarket shelves very successfully though.

I haven’t tried London Velvet. But over 35 years ago I was enjoying pints of cider and Guinness, it’s a damn fine drink, so I am sure that London Velvet is also good. But herein lies the rub, cider and Guinness is, in effect, already available in almost every pub in the country. Surely if London Velvet takes off then Diageo Guinness have the nous and marketing muscle to say ‘thank you very much’ and grab the lion’s share of the market?

So I wish them the best of luck but, regrettably, I’m out.

Disclosure: Intoxicated Rich has invested through Crowdcube and is currently an investor in Hop Stuff Brewery, Little Beer Corporation and CMIC (CAMRA Members Investment Club).