Category Archives: Editorial

Honesty is the Best Policy

A couple of weeks ago I quickly jotted down a few trends that I think might start to become more prominent in 2017 – but one I missed off the list is something else that has come to light recently, and it’s one of the most welcome trends I can remember for a while. Breweries, like any other business, have absolutely no obligation to keep everyone totally in sync with what’s going on in their world – aside from the beers they are producing and where they are pouring them, whatever else they choose to reveal is up to them. Yet recently we’ve seen a fairly humbling amount of honesty from the likes of Cloudwater (yes, them again) and Siren Craft Brew when it comes to how they are doing and – more importantly – where they are heading. And to that list, you can now add Tempest.

The Borders’ finest revealed all last week in a couple of blog posts on their website; the first one of which covering their performance and plans for 2017 was highly interesting for anyone with a passing interest in Scottish beer, largely because of the open and honest information it contained. This is very much in keeping with founder Gavin Meiklejohn, I’ve known him for a while now and he always tells it like it is – but I’m hoping it’s also a sign that brewers are more willing than ever to keep their supporters in the loop. I’ve been wondering why this is over the weekend and I think it’s probably down to one of two reasons (or maybe a small part of both combined).

The first is that the increased level of competition due to the number of new and newish craft breweries out there means that telling your story has become more important than ever. As much as its a great industry to be a part of, with roughly 120 production breweries/brewpubs north of the border and a couple of dozen contract breweries on top – there isn’t as much shelf and bar space to go around. A forest of taps or bottles looks great for the consumers, but if you try a beer from two different breweries and discover the history, inspiration and drive of one and nothing at all about the other, I reckon it’s brewery #1 you’ll be reaching for next time around (although there will be a few more arrivals to pick from, in all likelihood).

The second reason fits in with that – social media usage by breweries and interaction with them by their customers has also increased dramatically over recent years. If you have the channels signed up to, you may as well fill them with something other than pictures of fermenters. And on the other side of the coin, having direct access to the producer of your favourite IPA gives people new found bravado to ask them what the hops are, how long their lagers are conditioned for and whether they are going to expand into markets that the brewer maybe wouldn’t want revealed just yet. Communication is a two-way street. Or it could just be that modern-day breweries have less reason to fear the competition so don’t feel the need to clutch their encoded brewing logs to their chests anymore.

Anyway, it was great to be able to read exactly how one of the best breweries in Scotland fared in 2016 and are looking to continue to succeed this coming year. With growth pencilled in for another 30% increase over and above the massive spike in production caused by the move from Kelso to Tweedbank things are definitely looking up. Throughout the blog post they heartily admit to not following trends – and yet if you’re a fan of great beer in Scotland, there are plenty of titbits in there to indicate they are going to consider adopting quite a few of them (even if they are just doing so to make better and more interesting beer rather than jumping on any particular bandwagon).

Here are the most on-trend non-trends that Tempest are going to be exploring over the next year, it seems:-

Switched up regulars
Firstly the look to brew more small-batch runs of current beers with switched up ingredients is interesting – as is the development of a specific yeast style for ‘big’ IPAs. I’m guessing this means that we’ll see a lot more of Bomber IPA over the next year, and it will be interesting to see how it tastes with a different yeast profile. Hopefully they can improve on the juicy, citrus flavours even more.

Bombers and Cans
Speaking of bombers, more 660ml bottles are on the cards – which is great news as anyone who managed to get hold of their Old Fashioned can attest. Another note on their packaging plans for the coming year is that Tempest are about to embrace the biggest recent trend of them all – aluminium – by starting to can Pale Armadillo and Long White Cloud at some point in 2017. Whatever your thoughts about cans, they are hitting the shelves more than ever.

Keeping everyone happy
One of the most interesting series of points in the post related to their distribution – Tempest are looking to move towards exports, having increased from 0% to 7% to 20% of total revenue over the course of the last three years. I reckon their 2017 estimate of 30% could well prove to be a conservative one. Also they are looking to split the streams into more dedicated lines – with core range in supermarkets and small-batch releases solely to independents. This makes a huge amount of sense, helping to consolidate with the big boys (even if it means I’ll have to visit one to buy their regular beers).

Barrel-Ageing
Personally speaking one of the things I’ll be most interested to look out for is an increase in their barrel-ageing programme due to a larger warehouse – it’s been a long time since Old Parochial graced my tasting chalice so I can’t wait for it to appear again. I appreciate this is purely selfish, but there you go.

H41: Heineken go to the Ends of the Earth

Are big lager breweries in trouble? Everyone in the craft beer industry would like to think so, certainly – sales of Budweiser for example are still falling, even though they aren’t tanking by as much as they used to (which apparently is something to be celebrated in St Louis/Brazil/wherever) and is partly down to well-received Super Bowl advertising and increased bar trade in Russia. By the same token Heineken actually saw sales volume increase by 13% last year, which the Morning Advertiser equates to strong performance in sports sponsorship – such as the eye-watering $150m they splurged out to the Formula 1 Group midway though 2016. So maybe things are looking up for the multinational fizz-pushers. And yet, their age-old problem remains. Sales based on adverts and promotion don’t give stories to tell – so they have to go a long way to actually find one. Like Patagonia, for instance.

Heineken recently announced the UK launch of H41; their universally-found lager brewed with wild yeast. So far, so interesting – as somewhat explained in this error-strewn article in the Independent (‘Today [as] we know it [beer] has always had only three key ingredients; hops, barely, water – and yeast is a natural by-product of the combination of the three.’) the beer equates to the biggest diversion from Heineken’s recipe since their beginnings in 1864. Back in the summer by some co-incidence I was present for an explanatory talk on H41 given by the same Heineken employee who spoke to the Indy – master brewer Willem van Waesberghe. From what he said then, H41 does have a fascinating story, but it is not one that came anywhere close to that news article.

Willem – who is a highly entertaining speaker – started out by saying they refer to Heineken not as a craft beer but as one borne of craftsmanship. With two workers overseeing each 10,000HL brewing shift, he’s clearly enormously proud of the technology wielded in the Netherlands to create his beer, and enjoys the fact that Heineken is the only beer enjoyed in 192 countries (it would be a quiz question to guess the three or four where it must therefore not be). Other things I wrote down during his talk were the fact that Heineken is warm-lagered for seven days and then cold-lagered for a further fourteen, and that they consider it to contain only three ingredients – as the yeast is filtered out and not drunk by the consumer they refer to it as a ‘processing aid’ not an ingredient. This made the second half of his talk – entirely devoted to their new wild processing aid, slightly ironic.

Anyway, H41 has two interesting things going for it, as I see it. Heineken used naturally occurring South American yeast sequenced by biologist Diego Libkind of the National University of Comahue, Neuquén. Believed to be the ‘mother yeast’ of lager yeast this can be found in the wilds quietly living attached to the side of beech trees, and it took Professor Libkind three years to sequence and develop it. The first of those interesting titbits is that once Heineken realised its potential they funded the construction of an entire research institution for the Professor, in return for exclusive use of the sequenced yeast (aside from local breweries in the nearby town, who presumably brew beechwood-aged lagers in the St Louis style).

H41 may be a gimmick – but it is not one Heineken have considered lightly, at all. They liked it so much, they bought the scientist a laboratory. Once the petri-dishwork had been done it was on to the creation of the beer. For this, every single test brew with the yeast (Willem didn’t say how many there were) were brewed at 1,600HL in batch size – that’s over 280,000 pints – and every single one of them was then poured away. This kind of thing boggles the mind. Anyway, the second interesting fact about H41 – I’m just going to come out and say this – is that is actually tastes pretty good. Compared to the regular Heineken it’s night and day (the other bottle in the photo at the top of this post is their other recent ‘innovation’ Extra Vers, which is paper-sealed to prevent light-strike and shipped within two weeks to be fresh. It’s as bad as regular Heineken).

Fermented out at 11°C, H41 – which is named after the latitude of the mountain range where the yeast was discovered smells immediately like a Belgian Wit – massive amounts of cloves, which is pretty much unexpected and not at all unpleasant. It has a soft bitterness about it, and then a pretty intense dry finish with a bit more of the phenol on the aftertaste. It’s a bit like Hoegaarden crossed with Franziskaner Kristal Klar and topped up with Heineken. Although nicer than that sounds. Anyway, it surprised me. Willem then wondered aloud what style it might be – with the 4-Vinyl guaiacol being an off-flavour in lagers, and it not fitting the Belgian Blonde category, he proposed a new style – the Wild Lager. And seeing as the BJCP have everything else in their library, why not?

I’ve no idea how H41 will do – particularly as it’s going to be priced as a premium product – but it’s certainly the nicest lager I’ve ever had from Heineken (out of three, if you count Extra Vers as one of the other two). But the entire time Willem was talking a niggling thought kept poking away at the back of my mind – the low countries where Heineken are based are famed for the microflora that is used to give unique flavours into beers. Why not use Dutch or Belgian yeast for their Wild Lager? Why go to the ends of the earth and buy the work of a yeast expert? I guess the reason is the same as ever – these big lager concerns trade off many things, but having a genuine story to tell is never one of them.

Looking Ahead – Beer Predictions for 2017

Last week I looked ahead at ten British breweries to watch over the course of the year, so with the crystal ball dusted off and on its plinth there’s still time to calibrate it a second time and look at the wider beer industry as a whole. So here are a few trends I think might be worth keeping an eye on in 2017, and see whether brewers adopt them or not. As ever, feel free to throw these predictions back in my face come December when we’re all still drinking sours and session pale ales!

Turn to the Dark Side

Everyone knows hops are where it’s at, and the obsession with IPA looks to show no sign of slowing down. Let’s face it, we’ll be drinking them for the rest of our natural lives. But part of the move towards sours/wild ales and lower-abv offerings recently could be the beginnings of a movement away from the high an’ hoppy. With more breweries after that key ingredient than ever, this could mean good things for lovers of darker beers – stouts, porters and the like. They cater for those after something uniquely British, work well on any dispense method you can think of, and craft brewers can still create barrel-aged, fruited or (and this is the real tip for 2017) dry-hopped stouts or porters.

Dual Wielding

Yes, it’s another mention for Cloudwater, and one of the genius notions that they made their own last year wasn’t just the no-core range, the constantly refreshed artwork and the decision to move away from cask (you may not think that last one qualifies as genius, of course). No, the really clever notion they nailed was the split-screen release – issuing two versions of their Double IPA at once. If there’s a better way to convince people to buy twice as much beer, I haven’t seen it – but more importantly paired releases are the perfect opportunity to give your customers a chance to discern the differences a changed-up brewsheet can bring. Anyone keen to learn more about beer need simply pick both up, find two glasses, and work out a favourite. Look for more co-ordinated beer launching in 2017.

Make A Mixtape

The natural extension of the paired release is the multipack for blending. This is something explored last year by the De Brabandere brewery with their Petrus range of sours; packaging up an aged pale, red and oud bruin with the proviso that people then blend them together in smaller combinations to find new tastes and flavours. Having done this in Brussels a couple of years ago (plus I also have a set in a cupboard somewhere), not only is it a great marketing idea but it’s something else that spreads the appreciation of beer further. And it needn’t be restricted to sour beer either, small-batch canners this year could well release a pale ale, brown ale and fruit beer and let people have at it with their own blending trials.

Get A Head(y Topper)

In terms of actual beers rather than overall trends, the rise of the Vermont IPA (or New England IPA) still looks to be sweeping all before it Stateside. It could well jump the Atlantic to a more significant degree than it already is – so rare treasures like The Alchemist’s Heady Topper may well get UK versions for beer fans to get crazy about over here. In the US these beers are the natural progression of IPA away from massive resin bombs (i.e. West Coast IPA) and towards softer, fruiter flavours with added oats for creaminess and the trademark opaque look that resembles orange juice. I’ve never tried Heady Topper or the like, but something tells me I won’t need to go to Vermont to try one sometime this year…

Tallboys

Big cans are back. Yes the memories of Stones’ Bitter/Worthington’s/Banks’s Bitter/Tetley Original are flooding back to life in 2017 as craft breweries begin to adopt the larger can format. To this point, 330ml aluminium has been the way to go but a few breweries are pondering the switch to larger format, I think (aside from Adnams, who have been doing it for years). The rise of sharing sizes has also started to affect bottles – BrewDog obviously being a case in point – so as the uptake of bombers starts to become more of a factor, I wouldn’t be surprised if those breweries that choose to can their beer then look at a larger payload as well (Cloudwater are moving to 440ml cans, for instance).

Hops to Break Out

Ok, let’s end on a wild one – the biggest beer trend in 2017 is going to not be a beer at all. Dry-hopped cider is going to burst onto the scene as craft applegatherers discover that adding US C-hops add an extra layer of complementary citrus into their cider but also a hit of resin and pine that gives another dimension to what is already a growing category. Any US or UK craft beer fan may well be able to use a dry-hopped cider as a gateway into this whole other world – this year could be the one that cidermakers discover and exploit this point of connection to target and capture an entirely new audience. It could happen!

So those are just a handful of things I think could well happen in the beer industry in 2017 (although I did confidently predict that PET Plastic would be big last year). Let me know whether I’m talking sense or rubbish – or both – in the comments and if there’s any pearls of wisdom lurking in the reaches of your brain about what might happen this year, let’s hear them!

What are AB-InBev up to?

BeerHead

A few months ago I sat in the carpeted events hall of a Dutch hotel and listened to a series of fascinating talks on European brewing past and present as part of the 2016 European Beer Bloggers and Writers’ Conference. Of all the speakers and subjects, one small part of a single talk stood out and made everyone in the room sit up a little straighter. The person doing the talking at that point was Tim Webb, a man who has been writing about beer since I was a year old and who introduced himself as an agent provocateur of the brewing world, firing out predictions and statements on where the industry was headed based on previous events and what was currently happening in the world at the moment.

His main firebrand point related to the ultimate urban myth (ask your parents) relating to the beer industry – the perceived endgame for its largest player, AB-InBev. The Belgo-Brazilian concern have assets worth $135bn and own many of the commonly-seen beer and cider brands across the world such as Budweiser, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Leffe and so on – enough to stock the fridges of pretty much any bar you care to stumble into. They have done this by acting like one of those fish that are 90% mouth and hide under the seabed; waiting for the right target to appear on the scene and quickly subsuming it into their empire. They even have a newly-announced ‘craft’ lure, in the form of the Pioneer Brewing Company (a shell company holding their collection of captured producers).

The ever on the button Boak and Bailey recently pondered what the dickens they were up to, as ten days ago AB-InBev purchased another one – the Texas concern Karbach Brewing. Everyone’s favourite titanosaur (ABI, not B&B) are a truly fascinating company to follow. It’s so hard to predict what they might be thinking because they are working on multiple fronts and many different levels in this colossal game of Risk they are playing. As they continue to slide small pieces (in their relative terms) across the board into territories where they have yet to craft, there is the bigger picture to try to ponder. But the problem is, we just can’t step far enough back in the room to see it all at once.

beerbase2

CNBC reported yesterday that AB-InBev are peering from the mud at far greater fish with their narrowed eyes. In a move way over the scale of anything that causes craft beer fans to dilute their sours with tears, it seems AB-InBev would very much like to take control of Coca Cola. Now this is exactly the same point that Tim Webb made in the talk back in Amsterdam – and to be fair it has been made before, in fact AB-InBev have kicked the tires of the Atlanta concern already (as well as those of PepsiCo too). So whilst it’s not new news, it still represents a sea-change compared to Four Peaks, Breckenridge and other US breweries that make us tut a little and move on.

One of the remarkable things about the power wielded by AB-InBev is that their movements generate conspiracy theories. Tim went on to muse that the reason why the brewery behemoth are after Coca Cola is not just because of the money-generating sugary liquid that knocks Irn Bru off the top spot in every country but Scotland. The darker act at play is to control the world’s water supply – which if they gain control of Coca Cola would see them own 25% of the fresh water on the planet, according to Tim. Back in the talk he mentioned the specific example of a US State where AB-InBev already let the municipal authorities have access to water as a grace and favour, but with (in his view) potential to monetise this access if and when they see fit. And what state was that? Their new home thanks to Karbach – Texas.

So the theory goes that AB-InBev are looking so far beyond the faux-craft beer movement as to control the essence of life on earth. It’s a great story, which would be improved if their HQ was an island volcano as opposed to a small town in Belgium. But when you grow so big that you can swallow up your greatest competitor (SABMiller, bought for $107bn) then where else do you turn? Unilever? NewsCorp? Cyberdyne Systems? In the past we’ve had plenty of ‘have you heard x are interested in y’ rumours about takeovers and mergers – but when a consistent thread begins to emerge that the largest brewery conglomeration in existence are targeting other global corporations, then maybe we’re not in Kansas anymore (even if AB-InBev don’t own a brewery there. Yet).

Do Keep Up

telegraph1

It’s been a while since I wrote a post, I know – but I’m going to try to get back into the swing of things more as the occasional spark does still flash in the deepest reaches of the beer-related brain. Next year will be the eleventh I have been writing about beer, so it’s just as much of a surprise to me as it must be to you that these internal questions still arise and make me reach for my laptop. The most recent fired into life in a hotel room recently after opening a canned IPA I had spotted being sold in Scotland from an American brewery I had never heard of. A few years ago this would have been unthinkable for various reasons – chief among them being the number of US producers that could (or would want to) export their cans to the far north of the UK.

The beer in question was Telegraph IPA from the brewery of the same name in Santa Barbara. Ironically a producer who will also be celebrating eleven years of production next year, one sip and it brought to mind the classic American IPA – bundles of crystal malt yielding that chewy baseline that has been bulwarking Pacific coastal hops for forty years. Once the analytical mind had quietened it got me to thinking about some of the other reasons an entire brewery like this has before now passed me by. I guess the reasons why would fill a major essay on the rise of craft beer and distribution – but the rotating clacker wheel in my head eventually flicked to a halt on one particular category – there is just so much out there.

By that I don’t mean the increased number of breweries we are all experiencing; the Brewers’ Association totaliser shining like a four-figured beacon across the Atlantic (with our more demure UK version blinking back, also registering four figures). We all know that the number of breweries is doing that thing on the graph that looks like a route map of an Alpine stage of the Tour de France – I got to thinking instead about the way in which people react to the proliferation. The hunters of course carry on hunting – Raters gotta Rate – but for those of us like me that have a core number of breweries in our circle of trust, things have also become much more busy lately (only without the emergency phone battery and printed beer spreadsheet).

Beer Bubbles

The rise of craft beer into the public consciousness – whether you believe in the phrase or consider it meaningless – has spawned a proliferation from individual breweries of the like I’m not sure we’ve seen before in recent memory. One of the lesser-discussed consequences (if that’s the word) of the beery wave we are all surfing towards the mainstream shoreline is the increased output of those breweries in terms of numbers of unique beers. You could quite easily restrict yourself to Beavertown, Magic Rock, Harbour and Tiny Rebel and drink an amazing selection of newly-released beer from January to December. There’s no need to scan the shelves for the latest new producer when your existing favourites are so prolific.

I’m sure beer historians can weigh in here, but to my mind back in the day there were a few brewers who released a monthly special, but more likely it was a rotating line-up of cask or premium bottled releases that kept things fresh alongside their core line-up. Now, it’s all new. All the time. Take the brewery I work for – in September BrewDog released five different beers (Neon Overlord, Chili Hammer, AB:21, the newest Born to Die and Candy Kaiser). Admittedly the last one is a repeat of the previous winter seasonal and Born to Die varies only due to the profiles of the hops, but a beer a week is about as good as anyone could ask for. There is so much new beer from established brewers these days that it’s no wonder that the imported canned US IPA’s (as good as they are – and Telegraph IPA is very good) pass you by.

This can only be a good thing, surely. Each individual brewery will have its reason for cranking up the output – but whether it’s down to them revelling in the freedom of experimentation the market is now giving them, feeling the pressure to keep up with the Joneses or just riding that wave to see where it leads – does it really matter? About a year ago I wrote about the joy of ordering up a mixed case from a brewery you know and love. In that case, it was Thornbridge – and re-reading that post so as I can link to it here has got my wallet twitching – but whilst drinking that unknown Californian IPA from a plastic cup I realised that when breweries at the top of the tree over here are so productive, being unable to keep up isn’t surprising. Nor is it in any way a problem.

‘Visual Drama’: the pomposity of the serve

BeerHead

Every now and then you look at the beer industry and finally think that you’ve seen it all; the innovation well has run dry and we have collectively leapt forward so many times that our toes are hanging off the edge of the ideas cliff. But then the latest Eureka moment occurs within range of a lager flipchart and another level is reached. Just such a moment was revealed yesterday from the Molson Coors dream factory, on behalf of their brand Cobra.

A new glass was announced; designed to capture the swirling golden stream in a grooved channel to create a whirlpool effect which ‘more effectively releases flavours and aromas and results in a perfect head’. Yes, the PR company have basically hired a series of fluid dynamics specialists from leading Universities to replicate the effect of a bored bartender swirling a glass while they wish they were somewhere else. But it’s not just about the taste and bouquet of the Cobra – this nifty idea also riffs on something lager producers can’t leave alone.

This grand ‘industry-defining’ announcement related to the one true, Achilles Heel of big beer marketing; Visual Drama. Much like the other kind of VD, this phrase is a totem clung to by those who high-five in meeting rooms every six months prior to being passed on to someone else. Visual Drama is the idea that the product itself doesn’t require improving, but the mechanism for getting it to their customers can be jazzed up to the hilt. And lager companies fall for this ‘theatre of the serve’ nonsense all the time. PR agencies know it is cheque-writing catnip.

The results are played out across counter tops around the world, as if they think we are merely ranks of simpletons with gnat-like attention spans and an in-built desire for something shiny to dull the pain of twenty seconds spent waiting for a lager to be poured. It’s one step away from spinning pump clips or airhorns to honk while waiting for beer to arrive. Also – and far, far more importantly – it attracts us in the first place like so many boozy moths to a particular beer from one billion-dollar corporation over any of the half-dozen others on offer.

So maybe the question is why is it that lager producers are fixated on the act of delivery?

cobra-beer

Well, the short answer is because it’s the quickest fix on the depth chart. If Molson Coors want to help the head of Cobra last a little longer, maybe they could alter the grain bill and add a little more wheat than they already do. That takes money, although you can’t imagine fluid dynamicists come cheap (I actually studied that in the Humber Estuary for a while, and every time we plotted a fake oil spill our lecturer named it after the container ship that crashed into and sank his clearly-marked monitoring buoy in broad daylight).

Anyway, this obsession with increasing the impact at point of sale is something I often find myself thinking about as I attempt to pass money to a bartender – or worse, lift a beer back – through a gleamingly be-frosted phalanx of glittering keg towers. It’s like being in a Tuscan hill town. The cricket-bat sized Estrella Damm font is the biggest I’ve seen recently, but all are there to announce that their brand has very much arrived. Fair enough – it does give you an exact idea of what a bar is serving from across the street (or Google Street View, which is one and the same thing these days).

But do we really want visual drama? Prolong the best beer serve and what do you get? More clipped conversation about Gogglebox, or the weather. Maybe it’s a British thing. When I think of the theatre of the serve and visual drama I tend to think of the sense of impending dread when your pint splutters and dies three quarters of the way up the glass and you have to make a second choice on the fly (or the joy when you are cheerfully given the impromptu ‘cask ale schooner’ for the price of a half).

To me, the perfect serve is one conducted quickly, efficiently and in a friendly manner. Adding an unnecessary invention to this time-honoured ritual reduces beer to something as pointless as latte art. Even lager brands that we are supposed to root for because they are genuinely authentic have embraced this desire for flashy gimmics – I don’t doubt for one moment that Pilsner Urquell tastes better with a traditional head poured deftly with a flick of the Bohemian wrist – but I also can’t imagine that people who pour pilsner for the central European drinkers have been doing it that way for hundreds of years without someone from marketing barking at them.

Beer Bubbles

And that’s not to say that big beer manufacturers don’t come up with ideas that are industry-defining. We are all trained to despise AB-InBev from birth, but their Budweiser ‘Born On’ dates were a fantastic idea, and one that I have heard craft brewers state they wish they had thought of first (and ultimately some of them then adopted). It’s just that this Molson Coors glass is so awful it is April-Fool’s bad.

The fact that it is ‘made of science’, whatever that means (presumably ‘lifestyle-ready’ and ‘globally authentic’ had already been crossed off) – and that the gif seems to feature a bafflingly pointless DNA helix in the background are bad enough. “Hey guys, what else spirals? A helter skelter? No – it has to be MADE OF SCIENCE!!!”. But also, the tap that the beer flows from is a ‘Custom Liquid Emancipation Font’, and the glass it fills up has that grooved channel which makes it all swirl prettily but would be much harder to clean, you would have thought.

This is, at the end of the day, just marketing and – bacteria-related sickness outbreaks aside – harmless stuff. But if you want people to truly connect with you, your company and your product, then speak about any of those things. Don’t suck on the end of a pencil and wonder what people’s thought processes are when they stand at the bar and stare into space. Waiting for your beer to arrive is one of the best feelings of anticipation you can have (especially on a Friday after work). Lager companies and their marketeers need to realise that not every moment is an opportunity that needs to be filled.