Camden’s Sale: Short view – Long view

camden town

Most of you will have heard by now that Camden Town Brewery has become a wholly owned subsidiary of AB InBev (the worlds largest beer company).

Below is my take on what it means for those of us who love drinking great beer.

 

SHORT VIEW – Positive for drinkers

If you’re already a fan of Camden’s beers this is good for you. With the cash injection they can make more of their beer in the UK (they were over capacity and brewing some in Belgium before the acquisition). They will also have access to the ABInBev distribution agreements and tied estate that will open thousands of doors overnight.

Jasper is still in control and they have the same brewing team so there is no reason to expect a drop in quality or the extend of experimental brews being produced. If anything, they can be expected to increase as they gain access to equipment and expertise.

 

LONG VIEW – Bad for drinkers

If we fast forward 10 years the beer landscape will almost certainly be in better shape than it was 10 years ago when bland beers ruled the taps but the same problems will exist.

While I think there will be decent, flavourful beer in most bars for a market to remain dynamic it must have constant change, challenge and innovation, something that little brewers are far better at than big brewers will ever be.

 

The AB InBev future of craft beer:

They acquire some great brewers both sides of the Atlantic and leave them alone while they continue to deliver double or triple figure growth year on year. As this slows down we will see the old systems of control coming into play, these include huge listing fees, ownership of distribution networks and technical agreements that prevent other brands sitting on a bar.

It may sounds great that when you walk into a large venue you will see Camden Town or Elysian on the bar alongside Stella or Budweiser but it is worth remembering that in the owned craft brands becoming part of AB InBev they will be used to block out new entrants and feed back into the system that led us to the world of generic flavourless beers separated only by branding.

 

To summarise, it will become increasingly hard for new beers and brewers to get on the bar and as such no new Camden Town, Meantime, Elysian, 10 Barrel, Lagunitas or Goose Island breweries will be able challenge what is or isn’t good beer and that leads to a less exciting time for beer drinkers.

 

 

 

 

 

The Camden Town Press Release:

http://www.camdentownbrewery.com/partnership-ab-inbev/

*Image from this release

 

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Papa Del’s Event – 26/11/2015

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This talk was focussed around one of Papa’s large, sharing tables that are made from doors over 700 years old! It was great fun having a beer that is dominated by each of the three keys ingredients (Frontier – Malt, Chimay – Yeast, Sierra – Hop).

Both of the planned matchings went even better than expected, the pizza and cider took the gong for best match, the sweetness of the cider working with the slat in the gorgonzola and the bubbles helping to scrub through the creamy goat’s cheese. The bacon brownie was a dream with the Black Cab stout and brought out a vanilla character in the beer that normally stays hidden behind the coffee and dark chocolate. Matt (the owner) had tried to persuade me to use the salted caramel brownie instead but when the two were compared side by side his faith was restored.

 

Beers tasted:

Frontier Lager (draught)

Chimay Gold (draught)

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (can)

Sierra Nevada Celebration  (bottle) – only arriving in the UK that morning in keg!

Pairings:

Four Cheese Pizza – Cornish Gold Cider (draught)

Maple and Bacon Chocolate Brownie – Black Cab Stout (can)

Salted Caramel Brownie – Black Cab Stout (This was more to prove a point!)

 

 

It was also great to meet their wine supplier Dan, we’ve already started planning a five course wine VS beer pairing evening which will be LOTs of fun in the New Year!