Friday, February 04, 2011

Pump clips - another whinge

I know I have visited this subject before, but after coming across a couple of gems I thought it was worthy of a further whinge.

What do we want from a pump clip? Personally, I am happy if tells me the brewery, the beer name, the ABV and maybe the style of beer, if it is not obvious from the name. But maybe I am discounting the obvious. It is useful to be able to read the thing as well! That, I have discovered is not always the case, and to back this up two guilty beers were on side by side in a pub last night. One was full of so much information that it took ages to find a name and an abv, the other was printed in such a colour that only by removing the clip and squinting under a good light was the actual beer name apparent.

I am not into naming and shaming, but the two breweries in question were Steel City and Thorne. There is never any problem in identifying either brewery from their clips if you have come across them before. The former brewery provides all the usual information a drinker needs, but unfortunately a lot he doesn't really want or understand. Why do we need to know the IBU (international bitterness unit) for example? Or a code to tell us where it was brewed?

Yes I know (before I am on the receiving end of a Dave U... rant) that this is vital information for tickers, but the average drinker does not have that specialist interest. The description of the beer on the clip tells us it is a black IPA so we expect hops in it and bitterness, but I do not have a guide to tell me what IBU means what, so that is really irrelevant. The same applies to the colour guide on the clip - without the scale, this information is worthless.

However this is small beer compared to the Thorne clip. Whoever decided that lilac would be a good colour for a clip when combined with black lettering ? It does not not stand out, in fact it is unreadable. The bar is full of people squinting at the pump clip trying to work out what it says.

If you are trying to sell a product, surely the main thing at the point of sale is to make it attractive to the consumer. What applies to cornflakes, cat food and books, must surely apply to beer as well. It needs to catch the eye, not to have so much information as to confuse the customer nor be in such a colour as to put the customer off. I must say these are two unusual examples. Most are easily readable and simple to understand, but please, if you are going to the effort of brewing something you want people to drink, at least make it attractive enough for people to want to buy it.

(in assocation with Steve Goodwill rants!!)


Will said...

You see this is what happens when you live in a town full of great pubs with superb beer and friendly people!

And in tomorrow's show we'll be finding out 'just how annoying is that squeaking floorboard in the back room at the Rat....'

Timbo said...

I was leaving that till next week !!

Steveg said...

Nice "rant" Timbo, in fact I would say it contains at least 7.4 BRU (Blog Rant Units), combined with a relevancy factor of 9 on the ITCTB scale (International Twaddle Commission fot Talking Bollocks). However, the if the breweries concerned (and they know who they are!) continue to display unintelligle pump clips, then, in the words of a certain french soldier "we shall taunt you a second time"!

dave unpronounceable said...

rant? me? never! ;-)

I'm guessing the beer in question is Dead Souls, personally I like the clip artwork, though with hindsight the name could have been more prominent...

as for superfluous information though - superfluous to whom? for the 'average drinker' maybe, but then our beers are not aimed at the average drinker, assuming by this we mean the average drinker who is said to like their beers balanced and 'safe'.

All breweries quote an ABV, for obvious reasons, or so you might think (notwithstanding legal requirements...) - but in other countries the provision of an ABV on a draft beer is rare, and indeed in some American states illegal. IBUs and EBCs at present mean little to a lot of drinks, but a lot to a few - personally I'd love to see IBU become a standard piece of information as it is in the American craft beer scene - IBU tells me a lot more about whether I'm gonna like a beer than does ABV!

we quote where our beer is brewed as we currently hire someone else's brewery - again maybe most people couldn't give an airborne act of copulation as to a beer's provenance, but a significant number (mostly but by no means entirely tickers) like to know where their beer comes from - indeed many consider it dishonest to brew at a brewery other than that named without making this clear at point of sale

Gazza Prescott said...

I'd go as far as to say that, if you're seriously into your beer, you SHOULD know what IBUs and EBCs are! There is loads of gen on the net about these two scales so there's no excuse for not finding out about them IMO.

We're trying to educate drinkers and to make them think a bit about the beer they're drinking and part of this is an indication of how bitter the beer is and the colour of it. It's all very well saying "golden" but different brewers have very different definitions of golden whilst the EBC scale is a constant which can be referred to easily.

Bitterness is more difficult as different people have different tolerances for bitterness, but knowing the IBU's is, I think, very important in informing the knowledgeable drinker what to expect...

Timbo said...

Thanks to the Steel City guys for their comments, both of which are valid IMO. It is useful, I know, to be able to be sure of the provenance of the beer you are drinking, and in some cases I would find the IBU and EBC valuable, (and Gazza, I do know what they are and what they represent !), as to whether they add anything to the enjoyment of the average drinker I am not has a certain affinity with food labelling, which I know is there, but personally discount, but that is only my is a difficult one to call..but keep up the good work,I do know you care about your product, and it shows.