Sunday, 27 January 2008

InBev buries Bock

InBev buries Bock

InBev, the world's biggest brewer, has axed Artois Bock after just three years' production.
Back in 2005 the strong 6.2% lager was launched with a great deal of hoopla and media excitement. Several beer writers seemed to put their critical faculties into cold storage as they wrote adulatory pieces about the beer. Even the late Michael Jackson somewhat surprisingly penned an enthusiastic piece in Beers of the World. When I told another beer writer that I thought it was a poor beer, he sneered and said: "You must have got a bottle from a bad batch
-- I think it's superb". Is it conceivable that a giant company such as InBev would allow a bad batch to reach beer shops and supermarkets?
Now it's gone to the great Saloon Bar in the Sky. It's a curious decision, as only a few months ago InBev relaunched its brands as the "Artois Family". This was done to mask the fact that sales of Stella Artois are falling and that other beers from the same stable are also available -- including Bock.
InBev really is in a bit of pickle. It has made a complete mess of Hoegaarden, the delicious Belgian white beer. With astonishing insensitivity, the group closed the original brewery in Dutch-speaking Hoegaarden and moved it to the Jupiler factory in the French-speaking region of Liege. That didn't work, as Jupiler brews only lagers while Hoegaarden is warm-fermented, so it moved the white beer back to Hoegaarden.
Now it has axed Artois Bock but says it will be adding "classic Artois brews to the range from time to time." As Stella Artois is not known to have brewed a Bock in its long history, I wonder what new beer InBev will conjure from the mythical past to replace Bock.


Blogger Stonch said...

Quite right, Roger. Artois Bock is bloody awful. Before they officially launched it, it appeared in De Hems in Soho (London's Dutch pub). I remember being astonished at how they could release such an unappealing beer, that would find a market with neither the novice nor the beer savant.

28 January 2008 at 00:21  
Anonymous podge said...

After the Hoegaarden fiasco and now the withdrawal of Artois Bock, Inbev’s marketing strategy seems to be in tatters as far as this part of Europe is concerned. The third leg of the “Artois Family” was/is Peetermans Artois. Should this be withdrawn (Which must be very likely now), we could be looking at a complete family breakdown. Watch this space for spurious aunties, uncles and cousins from coming out of the family tree with various brand names? Hey! They might even find they have a long lost South American connection.

28 January 2008 at 00:47  
Blogger Tom Cannavan said...

I was in Canada on business a couple of years ago and was being driven across a vast tract of nowhere, when we stopped in a small town and found a pub/diner for lunch. It was festooned with Stella Artois banners, neon signs, ashtrays and whatever, as the beer had just been launched in the territory. My host was so proud that such a hand-crafted, premium European product was available out in the sticks, that I didn't have the heart to comment....

28 January 2008 at 11:41  
Blogger Stonch said...

Speaking purely on the basis of anecdotal evidence, I think Peetermans has been rather well received, in sharp contrast to the ill-fated Bock.

28 January 2008 at 13:33  
Blogger Andy Holmes said...

Another beer who's passing we won't mourn. One bottle was enough for me to decide to avoid it in the future, I believe the bottle I bought was on special offer in a large supermarket so luckily it was "reassuringly cheap".

Oops did I write that down!

29 January 2008 at 20:01  
Blogger Zak said...

Unsurprising news. My opinion of it wavered from "tasteless" to "confusing" - it was the classic example of brewing a beer by committee, hoping to appeal to everyone, but actually appealing to no-one.

The iconography for their "La Famille Artois" ad campaign was great though. Who knew they had such a long and illustrious history?

30 January 2008 at 08:56  

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