Some brewers, often anonymous, grumble about the beer rating sites like ratebeer and Beer Advocate, nicknaming them hatebeer. They feel that they are put down by a small number of geeks who make hasty judgements and don’t appreciate the high quality some of the craft brewers are offering.
Some take the other approach – they embrace the online beer community and use it for spreading the gospel. Here is a clip from a Scottish paper about BrewDog, which I have covered repeatedly:
James, 25, said: “I spent a lot of time in the beginning trying to create some interest in the product in Scotland but a lot of places wouldn’t even take free samples from us.
“They just didn’t want to know.
“It was frustrating, as well, because Fraserburgh gets such a lot of bad publicity and attention for all the wrong reasons. But here we were, two young lads trying to do something positive for the area and give the community something to be proud of and no one wanted to know.”
Thankfully, the pair had access to thousands of more appreciative beer drinkers on the internet.
After selling no beer at all for four months, the two pals decided to focus on the export market and began sending samples out to “beer bloggers” around the world.
In a matter of weeks, BrewDog was the hottest name on the lips of those in the know in the world of beer and, before the duo knew where they were, they were being lauded by fans and connoisseurs around the world.
The problem was, they still hadn’t sold a bottle. But as interest grew, retailers across the globe started putting in orders and they suddenly found themselves shipping as many as 25,000 bottles at a time to countries including America, Canada, Japan, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Italy.
James said: “A lot of the beers we make are quite strong, so they are not for those looking to down 10 pints in a few hours.
“So we found a perfect audience among the beer geeks and hard-core beer fans who use the internet. They just got really excited about what we were doing and, unlike retailers here, once retailers abroad got wind of the beer, they were quite happy to try samples.
“We got fantastic coverage across the world and, suddenly, around last August, the orders started flowing in.”
Since then, the boys have shipped out around a quarter of a million bottles to Sweden and half a million to the US.
There are probably several lessons to be learned here. I think one major point is that you should try to start a business when you are 24 and do not have decades of antiquated information on how things should be done…