Extra Blond Vedett

Another eight months goes by without a single beer tasting post. How does this happen? And in these eight months Myanmar has received its first craft brewery, to boot. I need to lift my game it would seem. Unfortunately I missed out on sitting down and thinking hard about the many beers I had last week in Denmark (mostly from Mikkeller and Carlsberg) but I am on point this week here in the Netherlands. So, without further ado.

The Vedett range of beers is brewed by Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat, i.e. Duvel, and seems to be their attempt at trendiness, although as I understand it the Vedett name is quite old and they took it over through acquisition.

The beer is a “premium lager” and weighs in at 5.2%. It certainly is pale, one of the palest lagers I’ve had in a while, especially after all the dark lagers I had in Denmark through Carlsberg. It looks great in the glass, a flowing, democratic head, super effervescent, big, brash bubbles and that scintillating paleness. Perfectly clear. The aroma is spicy hops, saaz for sure, with subtle lemon and what seem to be zesty phenolics, kinda strange for a lager.

It has a thin mouthfeel and a tight aftertaste, a little harsher than I was expecting. It fades the more you drink, but certainly this is not a typically balanced beer. It would go very nicely if today were less overcast and I were seated on the grass by the canal lapping at the backyard. As it is I sit inside typing. After warming the aroma becomes soapier, an unusual addition to an already weird smell.

The lager profile keeps things fairly underwhelming but on the whole this is an odd beer – its dryness, bitterness and peculiar aroma throwing me off with every sip. Vedett claims the beer has “smooth, malty character with subtly balanced hops … lingering fruitiness with subtle notes of vanilla”. Not getting it.

I bought a bottle of this beer at an unnamed supermarket in Utrecht, the Netherlands and drank it in a home nearby. What a beautiful city.

Beeronomics 2017

I have just finished participating in the Economics of Beer conference hosted by the Copenhagen Business School and the Carlsberg Foundation. It was a really great conference, combining academic rigour with collegiality and many opportunities for socialising and learning about Danish culture and Danish beer. I think I speak for all participants when I say it was a very successful event, and I look forward to the next conference in 2019, which should be hosted in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

Before going into the research proper, here are some photographs of lovely Copenhagen, one of the bars we visited (as part of the conference program there were two brewery tours and two bar tours) and some of the presenters speaking in the plush Carlsberg Academy.

I drank a large quantity of free beers over the course of this conference, some of which were quite good. Two special beers were made available: the Carlsberg Rebrew (read about this on Cornell’s and Pattison’s blogs), which I very much enjoyed, though struggled to discover the “old” in it, and the Copenhagen Business School’s Centenary IPA. This was a 6.5% ABV Westcoast IPA brewed to celebrate CBS reaching 100 years of business education. It was delicious and set the mood for the conference very well. Other beer highlights were Warpigs’ Kaffestout and Last Rites IPA and the full range of Mikkeller beers we were supplied with.

In addition to academic papers, the conference was fortunate enough to hear from Danish beer heavyweights Flemming Besenbacher, Carlsberg Chairman, and Jacob Gram Alsing, Mikkeller Operations Manager. These were great talks and I was fortunate enough to have a ripping yarn with Jacob afterwards. Mikkeller are truly a unique operation in the beer world. We discussed Mikkeller’s Asia operations and its investigations into the Myanmar market.

But without further ado, here are just a few of the highlights from the conference proper:

Carlos Eduardo Hernandez presented a compelling case for why the US brewing industry moved west in the latter nineteenth-century. Essentially, the answer was bottling. He also discussed comparative advantages between brewing locations in the midwest.

Kitayama, Williams and Takeshita examined the relationship between corporate governance and internationalisation strategies of major Japanese breweries. I found their discussion of corporate governance differences between Suntory and Kirin particularly fruitful for my own understanding of Myanmar’s industry, and Kirin’s partnership with the Tatmadaw.

Kind and Kaiser had a work-in-progress report on how climate change could affect the value chain of the beer sector in Germany. In doing so it used case studies of hail and drought in Hallertau and drought in the southwestern US. Although very exploratory, this was a great paper that drew attention to the bigger issues.

I also enjoyed Steriu and William‘s presentation on Heineken’s internationalisation strategy, again for its relevance to the Myanmar market. Interestingly they were positive about Heineken’s Myanmar work and applied agency to their ability to keep other entrants out of the market, which I thought was quite peculiar.

There was also a fun panel on regulation of beer in the United States with some good qualitative and historical work thrown in between econometrics papers. Richard White delivered his paper on Alabama’s idiosyncratic history of regulation with particular verve and enthusiasm.

There were some big picture works on the craft beer revolution and the launch of a book from the society with the same name. Stack and Wagner seemed to be doing the most to understand the revolution in the US from a supply/demand, large-scale level. But the other papers on clustering, particular national craft beer sectors and consumer taste preferences were also food for thought.

The plenary session was on new research frontiers in beer economics. Of course, there is no shortage. But even so, Jen Gaamelgaard did a great job distilling and presenting these. For those interested, the main book presentation was for The Craft Beer Revolution: A Global Economic Perspective, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Lastly, a big thanks to the Carlsberg Foundation for funding my participation in the PhD workshop at this conference.