The Languid Last Days of Summer

Summer is beer's busiest season, and it is accompanied by a hurricane of activity. As the season winds down toward Labor Day, the push is over and we enter one of the slowest times of the year. Bloggers trawling for content find the pickings slim. As examples, here are two recent stories that, in any other time of the year, I'd have happily let pass without comment--but ports and storms and all that. They might keep you going until the weekend.

1. BrewDog Does Something Dumb

This story was so weird that when I received the press release, I posted a screen capture on Twitter with a question about whether it was April Fools. In a press release, BrewDog announced it was launching a Netflix-esque streaming channel for food, beer, and travel. This is a big, expensive initiative: for $5 a month you would have access to "hundreds of hours of entertainment shows." (There was a warning that these weren't going to be exactly prime-time productions, though--the release also boasted that the shows would "produced by famous faces within the entertainment industry, such as William Shatner, Zane Lamprey and Alison Becker (Shauna Malwae-Tweep on Parks & Recreation." Hey, you gotta start somewhere.)

So how did the lads choose to launch this venture? Let's turn to the press release:

To celebrate its fetish for craft beer and commitment to becoming the most popular content on the web, the company rolled out parody porn site, BeerPorn, which provides a sneak peek into the stimulating content subscribers can expect to enjoy.

For a short time on Monday, if you clicked on the link, it took you to a very juvenile collection of sex puns and double entendres. Carla Jean Lauter immediately posted a screenshot:

The reaction was swift and decisive. If you Google around, you will find many satisfying denunciations, but none more than Kirst Walker's, which has so many excellent barbs it's hard to narrow it to one. Let's go with this, though, because I think it hints at why this particular stunt, among so many BrewDog have perpetrated, may backfire: " An utterly cringeworthy attempt to shock by linking their brand to a .porn domain which was surely dreamt up by some 19 year old on an unpaid internship who found some vintage copies of Loaded in the office and thought 'Maybe this is what old men like?'”

BrewDog is the Donald Trump of beer, always willing to offend a certain number of people so long as the shock brings a greater number to the brand. They seem to feed on criticism that their bro-ish behavior is boorish and demeaning, laughing while they cash the checks. The .porn stunt was bad not because it was so offensive, though. Sex puns are designed to be outre, so getting offended plays into the whole game. Instead, I think most people had a different reaction: the cringing Kirst identified. It's embarrassing. There's a moment when the drunk class clown, once the life of the party, suddenly seems old and sad. Why is that 30-year-old still making the same jokes we thought were funny when we were 16? I fear BrewDog just crossed that line. The company has issued a non-apology apology and attempted to scrub all evidence of the stunt from the internet.

2. The Brewers Association Drops Two New "Independence" Vids

I honestly don't understand why these videos were made or whom they were made for. I guess they're aimed at breweries that haven't signed up for the independence seal yet? They certainly don't seem to make a convincing case as consumer-facing ads.

Sometimes it's useful to see a script in print. I put it to you: can you make any sense of this? (Here's the other one if you want to compare/contrast.)

The most important thing about choice is that you have one. Independence depends on it. Choice lets you take a stand against the status quo. Like catching lightning in a bottle and in turn, leave your mark on the world. Or leaving our mark on beer... Our bottles and cans may not have the [flag?] but our beer is made with everything it stands for.

I await your collective wisdom.

All right folks. Podcast this afternoon, then some great labor blogging with the results of my worker compensation survey next week. Have a great Labor Day.

Jeff Alworth1 Comment