Remember that kid we all went to school with? You know the one; the chubby kid with the uniform that didn’t quite fit, always had one shoelace undone and smelled ever so slightly of cheese? He wasn’t a bad kid and your Mums were friends and you got an invite to his birthday party – but you and your mates tolerated him and he was always ‘one of the boys’. He was a genuine kid, a bit awkward and embarrassing but ‘one of the boys’.
Then there was that other kid who thought he was just way too cool for you and your mates. His tastes were more mature and his record collection was more sophisticated. He had older brothers and got more pocket money and never had to run a paper round or sweep the butcher shop floor. But he needed friends so he still wanted to be in your crowd and would hang around as if he were one of you while never really wanting to be seen to be one of you.
When it suited him he’d join in your conversations, agree with your predictions for the coming footy season and even side with you over who would win a fight between Batman and Superman (Superman, of course, although Bruce Wayne may have access to Kryptonite). But, behind your back, he’d tell the other mob that you were ugly and your Mum dressed you funny.
It’s possible that kid grew up to become a marketing executive with a large brewing company. It’s also possible he had something to do with the Crafty Beggars. I was about to say; “the Crafty Beggars brewery/brewers/beer people”, but I’m not sure that that in itself would be untruthful. Because what brewer would shit in his own nest? What true artist of the brewing craft would sell beer by telling you how bad everybody else’s beer is rather than how good theirs is? Could a brewer really hope to achieve any credibility claiming to belong to a club and then throw rocks at the clubhouse?
According to their own marketing bull, The Crafty Beggars are “nine rogue brewers” “of unsurpassed skill and fanaticism” “hidden deep within the industry” who want to “make a craft beer you can actually drink” one that is not “so snobbily crafty that one overpriced sip will blow your face off in a blitzkrieg of hops and whatever else has been arbitrarily thrown in”. Sign me up for a years’ subscription to that beer! I HATE FLAVOUR!!! YAY!!!
What they really are is a room full of people with degrees in Marketing and Half-Arse-ery 101 who work for a big brewer and perhaps don’t realise that the company has a brewing division. Crafty Beggars is Lion. As in the same multi-national conglomerate who have recently bought Little Creatures and Emerson’s. We presume they will soon ensure that these ‘so-called craft brewers’ start making beers we can actually drink in preference to the flavoursome and refreshing and award-winning beers they have crafted til now.
Much about The Crafty Beggars has already been written by wordsmiths far more erudite than I so I’ll let you read Phil Cook’s piece here and Neil Miller’s here as well as reaction from the trade and the NZ Brewing fraternity here. You can decide for yourself whether this is the way of the world or another example of somebody cynically seeing an opening in the market and wanting to play in the same clubhouse that they want to throw rocks at.
Maybe this is simply an example of going where the gettin’s good (the only growth sector of the beer market) and a somewhat sad case of being friends when it suits some people. Like that kid from school.
I think I’d like to share my friendship with the chubby awkward kid. At least he was honest and loyal.
Join the conversation – is Crafty Beggars just clever tongue-in-cheek marketing or proof that some marketing types can sell anything from toothbrushes and toilet paper to iPads and IPAs as long as they are not required to actually drink/use/try the stuff they are marketing?