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You’re Being Duped

We all know macro breweries are a bit scared of microbrewed local craft beer.

That’s why they’ve all unleashed their ultra-glitzy craft advertising campaigns featuring happy looking people brewing in a large shed and running their hands endlessly through buckets of malted barley – all while the sun streams through an old single-glazed window. ‘Cos isn’t that how the macros brew their 10,000 hectolitres of craft beer?

But with the macros (Diageo, Molson Coors, C&C etc) producing their own craft beer, comes the danger of the public being duped into thinking they’re drinking something that it isn’t. That is, it isn’t brewed down the road by a local man/woman who’s trying to make ends meet by making beer in that aforementioned large shed with their mates.

A few points in a recent report by SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, grinded my gears when I read it. Not that anything was wrong in the report – it’s just that for us here in Northern Ireland, and most of the Republic too, it’s not as reflective as what’s happening in Great Britain.

One of the report headlines said “Consumers believe genuine craft beer should come from a small independent brewery … only 2% of UK adults think craft beer can be made by a multinational, global brewer.”

Unless you’re in Northern Ireland, mate.

If I wander into a bar I’ve not been in before, I’ll inevitably ask what craft beer they have. And more times than not, the bar staff will point me in the direction of something like Open Gate or Hop House 13 (Diageo), Cute Hoor (Heineken) or Heverlee (C&C).

What’s just as bad is when they offer the ‘house beer’, a macro beer rebadged by the brewery that owns the bar taps in an attempt by the pub to appeal to the craft fans.

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It usually leads to a scenario of me asking the bar staff who brews the house beer, followed by them giving me a blank expression, shrug and mumbling “um, not sure”.

“Only 2% of UK adults think craft beer can be made by a multinational, global brewer.”

The incredulity of that line needs time to settle for us Ulster residents.

2%?!

When Northern Irish bars are being swamped with rebadged macros along with named fake craft such as Open Gate, Rockshore, Hop House, Franciscan Well, Cute Hoor, Smithwicks Pale Ale etc, if you asked people ordering one of those drinks all across Ireland, I’m sure the number thinking they’re partaking of a craft beer would be higher than 2%.

There are more micro and nano breweries than ever before across Northern Ireland, yet the giant macro breweries such as Diageo, Heineken, Tennent’s and Molson Coors still have such a tight grip on bar taps. Trying to satisfy the craft demand by making their own and rebadging anonymous house beers.

And trying to fool you in the process.

Don’t be fooled.

Ask questions.

And ask for beer that’s brewed in your area. If you ask, you never know, pubs just might start to stock it.

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