So, having had a whole load of tweets about the Let There Be Beer campaign I’ve finally got around to looking at the website properly and something I had such high hopes for has left me thoroughly depressed.
First off, let me say that I once worked with Tim Lovejoy on the BBC incarnation of Sunday Brunch and he was charming, pleasant and seemed genuinely into his beer – so this is not an attack on a man doing his job and, in my opinion, doing it well with what he’s been given.
And, as an aside, when Rebecca Seal is researching beers for Sunday Brunch, she is often in contact with me and I offer her advice on what she should select and does a good job of presenting them and trying to relay the background information I give her in a stressful live TV environment.
However, despite Lovejoy’s very professional but friendly patter, this isn’t what I was told it would be… which was limited branding from the big brewers involved, I was assured it would be an all-encompassing, carefully-executed, well-researched generic campaign – which it’s simply not and I feel really let down by that.
Regular readers of this site, and my other work, will know that beer and food matching is my passion – so to see the complete mockery they’ve made of it on the Let There Be Beer website and the short shows they’ve made, makes me want to scream with rage, weep with disappointment and nearly had me hurling my iDevice at the wall.
Firstly, let’s take the presentation aspect.
Over the past 10 years or so, all of us involved in trying to turn the image of beer around have taken the way beer is presented very seriously, it’s absolutely key to changing people’s perceptions of beer from being something to be skulled in pints to an elegant accompaniment to food.
So to see pints being dumped unceremoniously on the table or, mind bogglingly, being drunk straight from the bottle in a restaurant environment is simply a quantum leap backwards.
I could go on and on about this but I’m sure you get the gist.
Secondly the beers being used are, in the main, generic crap. On the website there are such offerings as Sharp’s Connoisseurs range, St Stefanus, Thwaites Crafty Dan and Daleside’s Morocco ale (which, very irritatingly, is just labelled as Morocco ale without any mention of the brewery name) so why not use any of these?
Oh no, you use Heineken in its green bottle, call Cobra an Indian beer (brewed in Burton-on-Trent), pick Doom Bar in a clear bottle (sorry lovely Stuart Howe, but I’m going to hazard a guess that you’d prefer it not to be packaged such, it’s not a patch on the cask) and John Smith’s Smoothflow in a bloody can!
Hands up anyone who thinks a commodity beer in a can being served in a restaurant would make them think ‘hmmmm, this is a classy joint!’.
It’s most especially irritating that when they’ve based one of the episodes in a Thai restaurant and they have three or four wheat beers at their disposal, which are generally amazing matches to such complex food, that they dumb down and create the most mundane, nay unsuitable, matches possible.
I never thought I’d say this but even the Canadian-brewed Blue Moon would have been better (a beer that simply isn’t a patch on its American-brewed counterpart).
Which brings me to the beer and food matches on the website – what palate-challenged unimaginative person wrote these please? Seriously, I know it’s taste is something personal – and it’s a mantra I repeat loud and often – but you have to be kidding me right?
Have you actually gone all out to say that all beers from a category taste the same? Or that wheat beers only match desserts? Are you shitting me?
It’s a standing joke that most people wouldn’t be able to tell their Budweiser from their Kronenbourg but, in reality, they do have very different flavour profiles but the Let There Be Beer campaign wants you to think they match all the same foods? Isn’t that just saying ‘all that’s different is the label’?
Same principle but different direction with Thwaites Crafty Dan and Deuchars IPA, one is a hop bomb of epic proportions that would trample all over something like the chosen match of Shepherd’s Pie, and in the opposite direction I fail to see how the subtle Deuchars IPA would stand up to a rich Mediterranean sausage casserole (which by the way uses wine in it, why not substitute that for, say, the Fuller’s London Porter THAT YOU HAVE ON THE WEBSITE!)
And as for the cheese section, could someone please, please, please tell me who thought that Singha was a good match for cauliflower cheese or that Kozel would be the best match for curried paneer?
I could go on and on and on about the huge failings of this campaign, not least the fact that its ads are of the same old lager stripe as so many before, which Pete Brown puts much more eloquently than I can here, but I think you get the drift.
Which brings me to one final point… Spindrift, a continental lager? No… no it’s not and that kind of sloppy mistake kind of sums up the campaign in its entirety.