• How to Get a New Beer to Market Fast? Be a Celebrity.

    It must be nice to get free media attention to pitch your new beer, a beer, mind you, built on a gimmick.  The new beer is from Churchkey Can Co. and the gimmick is the beer requires a chuch key, like the one pictured above, to open the can (the pointy side, not the bottle cap opener side).  Nothing says hipster like using an antiquated piece of technology that most of us did away with years ago.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I used the pointy side of the church key to open anything.  Maybe a can of Juicy Juice in the late 1970’s or a can of oil for my car in the mid 1980’s.

    So how did this beer come to be?  This is the beer of Adrian Grenier, most known for his role as the character Vincent Chase on Entourage.  I can only image it now, a few Hollywood folks with money sitting around talking about how to make more money and someone says, “What if we made a beer that you couldn’t open? What if we forced you to have a certain type of opener to get at our medicore beverage?  The hipsters are going to love this, and my publicist can get us on the front page of anything.  Heck, Forbes might even do an article on us.”

    Well, to quote Forbes:

    Speaking of inspiration, or rather deinspiration, to how Churchkey wants to sculpt its brand – Grenier cited the all-too-often seen standards of corporate America: “turning their backs on people and pumping out crap which doesn’t provide any value beyond getting an immediate fix.” They wanted “deeper values than just mass marketed consumer products” which have a “spirit beyond the product,” for their microbrewery.

    What kind of BS is that? “…spirit beyond the product…”  A beer that doesn’t have a built-in method to open it…what is the spirit of an un-open-able beer?  Even bottles with caps the don’t twist off can be popped off with just about anything you can find.  Check out this video, for example:

    With so many new breweries starting up, and so many beers trying to make their mark, it seems a little ridiculous that this beer would somehow end up in the limelight.  I have read tons of reviews of little known beers, and sampled lots of beers myself, but I find it funny that not one article talks about the taste and flavor of the Churchkey beer.  The best I can find is marketing fluff from Grenier himself:

    The clue is in the motto “It’s worth the effort.” Grenier says: “We weren’t talking about the can being worth it, it’s the beer.” The can creates a point of distinction, but it’s the beer/taste that will continue to drive sales, and that customers will come back for. “It’s a combination of a distinguished product and packaging with a superior beer that people can rely on.”

    I won’t be going out of my way to try this beer, and hopefully this type of contrived beer won’t last long in the market.

    Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/languatica/2012/06/20/its-worth-the-wait-build-a-brand-like-a-superstar/

  • Prohibition: Alabama’s Antiquated Articles

    You can buy a shirt at the department store, but you can’t make your own shirt.  You can buy a hamburger at the local fast food restaurant, but you can’t make your own hamburger.  You can buy beer at the local store, but you can’t make your own.  For those living in Alabama, one of those three statements is true.

    I’m really having trouble understanding the logic of why something that is available for sale would not be permissible to make in the comfort of your own home.  Under the new law homebrewing is punishable as a misdemeanor with significant fines and even jail time.

    Daniel J. Smith, an assistant professor of economics at the Manual H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University, makes some great points:

    If Alabama believes that “the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property,” as stated in Article 1, Section 35 of the Alabama Constitution, homebrewing ought to be legal.



    In fact, since President Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing at the national level in 1978, there has been a craft beer revolution with microbreweries and brewpubs popping up around the nation. This renaissance has not reached Alabama due to archaic remnants of the Prohibition era, including the ban on homebrewing.

    Those that have opposed the homebrewing process are under the impression that the ability to make beer and wine for a cheaper price in the home will increase the amount of drunks.  As someone who has been brewing beer for the short period of 6 months, I can tell you, it’s not the place to go to get your quick fix of alcohol.  I’m currently brewing once a week (5 gallons or about 2.2 cases of beer), but leaving the beer to ferment for 4 weeks.  Not the ideal situation for someone looking to get drunk on a daily basis.  Even then, my beers are cheaper in cost than good craft beer, but the crappy watered down beer like Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light are still cheaper than what I produce.

    The deeper issue at stake is the tendency of politicians — whether at the local, state or national level — to manage every aspect of their constituents’ economic and personal lives. This trend threatens the development of personal responsibility and undermines the foundations of a free society. French political observer Alexis de Tocqueville long ago warned this type of bureaucratic power turns people into “nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

    Sweet home Alabama?  Not for me, but then, a southern man don’t need me around anyhow.

    Source: http://blog.al.com/

  • Miller may be bought by Anheuser-Busch


    Not that it is a big surprise to see consolidation in any market, but this one is very interesting.  #1 and #2 looking to combine forces.  This can’t be good for beer.  As if our choices weren’t limited enough, they are about to get more limited as Anheuser-Busch flexes it muscle to grab an even larger market share with a purchase of Miller.  It’s time like this that I like to encourage those around me to drink good craft beers by independent breweries.  We’ll have to see how this pans out, but I can’t imagine it will be anything but bad news for the little guy.

    “Analysts downplayed the speculation, saying such a deal would be contrary to recent guidance by AB InBev management.  The Budweiser brewer is “the right size” and is focused on so- called organic growth, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito said in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Tijd in July”

    Source: Bloomberg

  • Steve Jobs Inspired Us All


    Steve Jobs inspired us all.  It’s hard to look at the past 30 years of technological advancements and not see the influence he has had on world culture.  From helping bringing mass computing to the American education system, to showing average individuals how to point and click, and of course to bringing the “i” to everything we know today, Steve has been a pioneer, leading us to where no one else could.

    I was young, maybe 10, maybe 6th grade.  I was growing up in a household of computing (VAX 1300 BAUD dialup, compliments of Westinghouse), but Apple, they changed everything.  Those who went to school in the US in the early 1980’s are hard pressed not to remember the Apple IIe.  It seemed overnight the Apple IIe became ubiquitous with everyday computing.  Sure there were other systems available, and certainly those that made more headway into the American home (hello Commodore 64), but Apple touched the youth of the day in the place they called home on a daily basis, school.

    “Microsoft, IBM, HP who are they?”, might ask anyone going to school in the United States at that time, but Apple, we knew the name…we knew the logo.  And that was just the start.  Once Apple had seeped into the common consciousness during the infancy of the technology age, it was going to be hard to shake loose the early held ideologies.

    I remember the day my father brought home the Macintosh.  It had this thing attached to it with a button.  You moved it around and the pointer on the screen moved.  I was 13(ish) and I had just used a mouse for the first time.  The whole computer was self contained (which was odd at the time) with a roughly 9 inch monochrome screen (not fact checking, just going from memory).  I remember my father shortly thereafter buying a 20MB HDD that sat underneath at the same width and depth and about 2 inches high.  He said something like, “Who is ever going to need 20MB of HDD space?”

    Of course, that was well before the advent of MP3s.

    Today we think nothing of carrying all our music with us wherever we go.  While there were plenty of MP3 players on the market before any iPods, like those that Creative made (thanks for the interface), it was the simplicity of use and elegance in design that brought the iPods to the forefront of popular culture.  This was one of, if not the first, must have tech gadgets ever for the adult market.  Apple had been floundering for several years, and it was this inspiration from Steve Jobs that brought forth the Apple you know today.

    From the humble beginnings of the iPod came everything with the “i” moniker.  iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and all the third party products that followed.  Apple paved the way for selling digital music and video thanks to the “i” line of products.  Without the path Apple paved under Steve’s leadership, I doubt we would find ourselves in the media rich environment we do today.

    Tonight I raise a glass to a man who inspired us all to think in a manner that would have otherwise been unconventional and to dream of a tomorrow that will hold the key to a better technological future.