They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Thursday, 7 July 2011

But I Don't Want Craft Lager

Take a good look at the image below. Now, the beer of the right is one we've had for quite a while now, in fact as long as I can remember (that's 5 years of working at the shop). The beer on the left is what came in today, fresh with our delivery. Yes they are the same beer.

But can you spot the difference? Surely the eagle eyed amongst you have.

Now this annoyed me a little bit. It wasn't for the 'craft' word in 'craft brewed lager', they've had the words "craft brewed in Scotland" on the bottles for as long as I can remember, and if they wanted to jump on the craft beer band wagon some more they would have put 'Craft Brewed Pilsner'

But they haven't, this is now a "Craft Brewed Lager" not a "Craft Brewed Pilsner". It's the word "Lager" I have an issue with. Yes I know Pilsner is a style of lager, but when you think of it in loose terms they're quite different, and most would say when it comes to Pilsners and Golden Lagers - they're very different from each other. I mean come on! This beer won the "World's Best Pilsner" award at the WBA 2008 (World Beer Awards) and it seems even that epic title has been stripped from the bottle neck. Calling it a Lager just makes the whole thing really vague, and detracts from the fact that it's an excellent and award winning Pilsner, and for me, changing the label to this does not do it (and it's awards) any justice.

Now I love Schiehallion, It's one of my go-to beers, I've loved it since the first time I tried it 4 years ago! It's a fantastic Pilsner; lovely floral bouquet of hops and a crisp dry finish - it makes for one damn refreshing beer! Now I know the beer hasn't changed, but that's not what I'm trying to say: this beer is a (craft) brewed Pilsner, not just a (craft) brewed lager! Hey, maybe it's not for me to say, maybe it's for the brewer to decide, after all he's pretty entitled to call it what he wants - he blinking made it! I just want to ask the question of why??? Maybe I'm getting a little over-passionate and a little pedantic, but consider this:

Would you be happy to be supping on Lager Urquell tomorrow??


  1. I disagree with you on this one - Schiehallion is an amazing beer (gets a 5/5 from me!) and its a perfect 'cooking lager' replacement but does the average cooking lager fan know that a Pilsner is a lager? Remember these bottles sit with all the other ales in the supermarket (I'm talking the excellent Booths here) so I think it's a clear statement of what type of beer Schiehallion is.

    I hope that they work 'lager' on the front means that more regular lager fans will try it and find out how lovely it is!

  2. yeh I'm with Baron Orm on this one, I think it's a shrewd marketing move but not necessarily a negative one. If it gets more people to try the beer then all the better. A problem I've encountered as well is that a hell of a lot of normal lager drinkers (friends of mine included) wont drink pilsner because of the terrible 'pils' beers that theyve tried. i.e. Holsten Pils etc. It could mention Pilsner on the back of the bottle but saying 'craft brewed lager' on the front is more likely to win over fans of the style, and more casual drinkers.

    Plus it's a bloody great beer whatever they call it.

  3. p.s. did you also notice it says 'crisp and refreshing' rather than 'crisp-refreshing-dry' underneath?

  4. I am with you on this one, calling it a "craft brewed lager" is like stating you are one step up from the Carling's of this world.

    Admittedly I am fiercely protective of the term pilsner, but if the cap fits then wear it, wear it with pride and screw what people think.

  5. Baron, Neil - I love the fact that they're trying to get more people to try the beer and appeal to a broader range, if that is what they're trying to do, but I think that should be done through education and not (almost) dumbing down one of their beers - making the style vaguer so the 'average punter' can understand what it is.

  6. Maybe the 'education' part is easy for me to say, after all you both know where I work and how easy it is for us to say "Try this beer, you'll love it" which results in people taking home loads of great beers, such as the whole Harviestoun range. It's never going to be that simple in supermarkets no, but I still don't think they should be removing the Pilsner badge.

  7. "Pilsner Beer" is a strange label to use anyway. You wouldn't use "Porter Beer" or "IPA Beer" on a label would you?

    I think neither label is the best to use.

    "Craft Brewed Pilsner" ticks all the boxes surely, assuring its quality, method, provenance etc?