Tag Archives: canada

Authentic Beer Marketing

I recently read an article concerning contemporary beer marketing in the “West” in relation to myths of authenticity.

O’Neill, C. et al. 2014. “Advertising real beer: Authenticity claims beyond truth and falsity”, European Journal of Cultural Studies 17 (5), 585–601.

Abstract: It is a mainstay in the literature on consumer culture that the romantic, countercultural value of authenticity has become a core asset in mainstream marketing. Since there is little research on the particular ways in which commodities are endowed with auras of authenticity, this study analyses registers of authenticity in 153 beer commercials from eight countries. The content analysis distinguishes four strategies of authentication: beer is related to pre-industrial craftsmanship, naturalness, concrete locations and historical roots. Surprisingly, however, such claims are often openly exposed by the advertisers themselves as mass-produced illusions. It is concluded that the appeal of authenticity in consumer culture should not be explained by the fact that people actually believe in the ‘authenticity hoax’. Quite the contrary, the acknowledgement that narratives about a more authentic world are myths provides an alibi for consumers to fully indulge in their meaning without the risk of making naive and dupable fools of themselves.

It’s a good piece and worth checking out – unfortunately it is in an academic journal with a paywall. The main reason I bring this article up is because the authors created a YouTube playlist containing each of the ads they analyse in order of mention. This is valuable curatorship for those interested in beer advertising in developed beer markets. Here’s the link.

Bowen Island Cove Lager

The Bowen Island pub occupies a lovely little spot of British Columbia. The island is quite out of the way, which is part of its charm, but still accessible enough from Vancouver to easily constitute a day trip. There’s water, mountains nearby, thick forest with woodpeckers, ducks – and in Snug Cove, the main town on the island, there’s beer.

The Cove Lager is an interesting brew. Apparently produced to a recipe designed by the publican, the actual beer is brewed off site at Sleeman’s then imported back to the island. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense intuitively, but it does economically – and that’s what the bartender said. It’s brewed at one of the nation’s biggest breweries, way off on the mainland where the malt is, but to an original recipe the island can call its own.

This light lager beer is blonde gold and clear. It has little head and zero aroma; faint bready malt and light, flat lavender notes. It’s almost a flavourless, maltless beer, but does taste clean and dry. You know the words: inoffensive, like sex in a canoe. A very plain beer for its origin story and ultimately a disappointment. Would be OK on a hot day. Slightly more flavour than Bud Light.

I drank this beer on draught at the Bowen Island Pub, British Columbia.

Microbrasserie Nouvelle France La Messagere Millet

The New France Microbrewery is an excellent place to go for beer if you’re driving through its little corner of Quebec. Interesting decor, a large range of beers and food provide the perfect rest stop. However, some of their beers are a bit unusual – and not unusual in a standard “craft beer” kind of way – just generally odd. Consider this beer I tasted: a gluten-free lager made from rice and buckwheat.

This light beer is only 4% ABV and doesn’t set itself up with any pretension. It sparkles in the sun like champagne, spritzy carbonation and very, very pale – no head or retention. Some phenols confuse a rich aroma of rice, zesty lemon and lime – also mildly soapy. On tasting a strong conflagration of – how to put this – soap and … beans … set fire in the mouth.

Malt is minimal, confused, bitterness is present but understated. A thin mouthfeel ends in dryness and a piercing, acidic profile is left on the tongue. Not great, but so unusual it’s worth a try. It’s a good baseline for me to seek out more buckwheat beers. Still, emphasis on not great.

I drank this beer on draught at the Microbrasserie Nouvelle France, Quebec.

Tofino Brewing Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter

Founded in 2011 by Bryan O’Malley, grandson of a Montreal brewing family, the Tofino Brewing Co. is named after the picturesque town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The brewery’s range includes a “Session” Ale (which is 5% ABV, not exactly session), Blonde, IPA, Lager and Stout. The 6.5% ABV Coffee Porter is a seasonal beer, only being brewed in winter and spring, and there are a few other seasonals such as a double IPA. They use pacific northwest hops and mostly Canadian malt.

The Coffee Porter is enticing in the glass with low carbonation and a thin, friendly beige head. It looks dark brown to black and offers a pungent coffee aroma with chocolate and bourbon in the background. Caramel malt aroma is barely distinguishable.

The beer feels light in the mouth with a smooth vanilla finish, but heavy in flavour – sweet and rounded roasted coffee beans without much astringency and a delicate bitterness just in equilibrium. There’s nothing to complain about with this beer. I should have bought two.

I bought this bottled beer at Liquor Depot, Kitsilano and drank it at a mate’s place.