Along with the rest of the Melbourne beer mafia I was at the Two Birds launch event at Beer Deluxe last night (I know because Untappd was going crazy). Two Birds, for the uninitiated, is a brand new brewing company who have generated quite a bit of buzz for two reasons. Firstly it is run by two women, which sadly is unusual enough to still get you press, but more importantly one of those two women is Jayne Lewis who until recently was the head brewer at Mountain Goat, and has therefore been responsible for bloody good beers.
At this stage they have just one beer – The Two Birds Golden Ale. I’d actually had a sneak peek of this at the Victorian Microbrewers showcase, where I suggested that this could easily become the beer of the summer for many craft beer people, and I stand by that.
Is it a great beer? Not really, but it is a good beer. It’s an easy drinking beer and completely sessionable and you could happily drink it all night. It was a little light for a golden ale and felt a bit more like a good quality pilsener than anything else. It has more body and more hops than your standard mainstream brew but I doubt it’s big enough to really knock any beer geeks’ socks off. I’d have a Schooner (or six) though.
The discussion around our table was that this is the beer you have to make as a craft brewer – the gateway beer – the beer that gets you distribution, generates the volume sales and thus the profits that hopefully (for beer geeks anyway) allow you to make an oak barrel aged, gooseberry infused, nitro poured stout/ IPA/ porter/biere de garde fusion which will only be drunk by seven people, all with beards and a budding hop garden in the backyard of their Thornbury home.
But does a craft brewery really need this beer? I was reading an interesting article yesterday about Three Floyds brewery. You can read the whole thing here but the interesting bit was some work done by professors who looked at ratings on ‘Ratebeer’ and correlated them to sales growth. Here was their conclusion:
“It is more important to have some customers who love you than a huge number of customers who merely like you,” the paper concludes — even if your beers are so intense that they turn off a lot of potential customers. “Good, solid, likable, average, middle-of-the-range new products that consumers neither love nor hate will not sell.”
Beers that stand out are thus the most successful, and that might be what has led to the proliferation of extreme brews and the supremacy of Three Floyds.”
Now Australia is probably not as advanced with extreme beers as the US and the market is not big enough for the extreme beer niche to make a living out of, but it does beg the question: Is it better to play it safe Two Birds style and risk being lost in the pack, or stand apart from the crowd like Moondog? (whose first release is a Cognac Barrel aged double IPA, which is currently sitting in my fridge waiting to be drunk and reviewed.)
Now that was pre-promote one, pre-promote two is announcing that next week this blog is travelling. That’s right all next week we are reporting from South Australia, so tune in to hear about Adelaide’s best pub, a brewery profile of Lobethal Bierhaus and a brewery visit to Steam Exchange. Exciting? Hells yes!