Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Stella faces malt crisis

As a result of continuing industrial action in Belgium by workers employed by AB InBev, the brewer says it's running short of malt at the plants that produce such delights as Stella Artois and Jupiler. The workers are protesting against plans by the global giant to close plants in Belgium, with the loss of many jobs.
It will come as a surprise for beer lovers to learn that Wife Beater actually uses malt. Come on InBev, you can do better than this -- surely there's plenty of rice, maize and grits you can use.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Protz,

I find it disturbing that you seem to not only celebrate the loss of jobs for 800 people (in a recession) but also your contradictions. In a previous blog you mention filling mash tuns with quality ingredients but then write: "that Wife Beater actually uses malt"

Surely they are trying to use more quality ingredients rather than less and having difficulties. Adjuncts are an have been (even in Britain) a significant part of brewing. What is the difference between a regional English brewer using an adjunct such as torrified wheat and a multinational using an adjunct?

Also your naivety that to sell more they should fill their mash tuns (more likely to be mash filters) with quality ingredients will solve the problem. Marketing and selling a product is much more difficult than simply brewing the beer. Further more would you actually buy it? The new beers by Grolsch and Inbev in America have been met with derision. Even with the fact that the experience and equipment they have which can make amazing beers which many microbreweries simply can not.

28 January 2010 at 10:10  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 January 2010 at 08:16  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Tongue in cheek, comes to mind here Anonymous, do you not have a sense of humour.

29 January 2010 at 08:18  
Blogger Cooking Lager said...

Stella has returned to growth since the debut of 4%, that’ll please you. Had it maintained its rate of decline it would have taken 20 years to be knocked off the top spot for Blighty’s favourite beer. When pongy ale gets popular, Protzy, let us all know.

29 January 2010 at 15:48  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

In what way am I celebrating the loss of jobs? I bitterly oppose the loss and support the workers' action. But,as Johnyy Norfolk, points out, I was having a bit of fun with AB InBev. As BrewDog said of me, lighten up.
"Pongy ale"? Could that be beer with aroma and flavour?

31 January 2010 at 12:41  
Anonymous Donald Furnell said...

CAMRA should know its enemies better. Stella Artois is NOT by any means the worst quality lager. It's one of the biggest in terms of volume but, it could be argued, that's because it's somewhat better than the truly dire UK brewed travesties of the likes of Heineken and Carlsberg. The UK brewed version of Stella is fairly indistinguishable from the Belgian version. Stella has a lot more hop character than its chemical tasting peers.

As the Belgian version is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) sellers in its native country are you accusing the mass of Belgians of being beer philistines?

Stella is not as good as the best real ale or traditional Belgian beers but, and CAMRA needs to face up to this, at its worst it's better than badly kept real ale.

Of course there's a lot of rubbish out there but give a little credit to the lager drinkers who drink the better quality stuff -- they are the ones who can be tempted into appreciating the delights of traditionally brewed beers. Telling them they are binge-drinking idiots with no tastebuds who are easily fooled by marketing hype is not the wisest marketing strategy. Nothing is worse than rancid real ale.

In the interests of fairness and impartiality I'd be interested to know when you last sampled some of the mass market beers that you are so happy to ridicule.

31 January 2010 at 20:13  
Blogger bedfont said...

I once conducted an experiment my man was a flight attendant and he brought home some foreign Stella and some locally brewed (you know it was foreign as it had a picture of the 1996 winning European Champion German team on it).

I did a blind tasting and favoured the coldest one.

I'm with anonymous it's about the beer stupid. Too much of CAMRA is now ritualistic nonsense that ignores the key not how it is produced or served but how it tastes in the glass.

31 January 2010 at 21:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first visited the Leuven brewery many years agop I thought Stella was delicious. I agree that it was far better than many of the industrial lagers brewed in Britain. But I have no doubt that the quality has declined over the years and I think this is connected not so much to poor ingredients but to cutting the lagering time. The trend is for all global lager brands to be pushed out of the brewery in around 21 days -- compare that with Budvar's 90 days.
Could I stress, for the umpteenth time, that I am not a real ale fanatic to the exclusion of other beer styles. Most of the beers in my bokk 300 Beers are not cask ales. I enjoy good lager. I'm just off for a meal with my son and we'll be drinking lager. I'll report back with my views.

3 February 2010 at 18:56  
Anonymous Roger Protz said...

That last comment was from RP not Anonymous!
Last night went to a Mexican restaurant and had a Brahma, Brazilian lager, not very interesting and then two bottles of Negra Modelo -- excellent. But all the beers sold too cold so they had poor condition.

4 February 2010 at 10:22  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree about the adjuncts. I cannot see why on earth Stella advertises maize as being one of its ingredients. The advertising must be aimed at those ignorant about beer making. However, as has been mentioned, British ales routinely have cane sugar, wheat and other adjuncts added. This also ignores specialities like the delciious Oatmeal Stout I sampled from the Chiltern Brewery.

Stella is something of a victim. I'd argue it became the clear category leader in premium lagers because it was by far the best product. It was also far from ubiquitous in pubs in the days of the tie -- only Whitbread and their allies stocked it and lager drinkers would seek out pubs with Stella in the same way real ale drinkers do similar these days.

Two things traduced the premium brand positioning -- beer orders and the influence of supermarkets. Both wanted the best product and at a cheap price. It's at that point where the Wifebeater reputation started.

Stella is a fundamentally decent product given a bad reputation by the demands of global capital. Take away the layer of corporate HQ from InBev/Busch (or whatever they're called these days) and you'll find a lot more common cause than you might expect.

By all means denigrate tasteless rubbish like Foster's but there are certain real ale serving pubs I've known where Stella is the best quality drink.

5 February 2010 at 23:44  
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8 April 2010 at 07:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on. Stop the long winded nonsense. You defend it because you just plain like the cheap shite in a fancy bottle. The whole damn thing makes it overly complicated. I'm sure there are Old English vs Colt 45 arguments in the ghetto. Stella is a cheap beer well marketed. Stop feeling stupid for falling for it (or just liking the local offering). Does it really matter if somebody's grand papa thought it up on the beaches of Normandy(god blessum) or if the snotty fugs go back 16 generations? Shut up and drink.

7 June 2013 at 04:31  

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