Sunday, 21 August 2011

‘Fuller Flavoured Lagers’ in Tesco


Oh dear. This image was just posted on Twitter by Robert Marshall. It’s from Tesco. I’ll repeat the words again purely because I can’t understand how something this poor could make it onto the shelf of Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer:

Fuller Flavoured Lagers carefully selected for their complex fuller flavours from a variety of different hops which deliver a smooth creamy taste

That’s copied verbatim (I talked about spelling, punctuation and grammar a few weeks ago, so I won’t go there again, but I can only guess it was written by someone with a reading age of seven). As you can see above, it also contains two very well-known lagers – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (the clue’s in the name on that one) and Innis & Gunn. 

Also this weekend is a piece in the Guardian which talks about the new beers on the Tesco shelves and explains how US craft lagers are cashing in. The lagers they are talking about? Blue Moon, Goose Island IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Brooklyn Lager.

I went to Tesco yesterday just to buy Goose Island IPA. Good on them for increasing their beer selection and trying to tell people about it, but this sort of thing does serious beer understanding and appreciation no favours. My guess is that Tesco want people to think that these new beers are lagers (sexy, cool and what most of their customers buy) and not ales (not sexy, not cool and not what most of their customers buy), but that’s just ridiculous.

Surely Tesco can do better than this? I'd just like to know what 'smooth creamy taste' is coming from the hops...

21 comments:

  1. What's annoying is that because it's point-of-sale promotion the ASA won't touch it, whereas if it was outside the store then there'd be a case for misleading advertising.

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  2. To be honest I'm surprised Innis and Gunn haven't called their rum aged beer a lager themselves. They had the front to call the IPA an IPA so very little would surprise me.

    You would think that Tesco would simply call one of their small batch suppliers, ask to speak to the brewer, or the sales manager, and ask the simple question 'How do we describe these'.

    Interestingly it comes back to a comment I read on a blog the other day, written by an idiot. Beer is about taste, not about image.

    This photo supports my assertion that beer is mostly about image and very little to do with taste for the vast majority of the beer buying public. Whoever wrote the rhetoric for that info-panel may be pretty thick, but they at least know where their market is.

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  3. Here you go Mark, this should please you

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/aug/21/us-craft-beers-take-off

    C

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  4. Chris, Mark links to that article in his blog.

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  5. "I can’t understand how something this poor could make it onto the shelf of Tesco"

    But we're talking Tesco here, dumbed-down supermarket shopping at its dumbest!

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  6. In the Guardian article, even CAMRA appear to think they are lagers:
    "The popularity of American craft lagers is very much down to how they offer similar traits associated with the British brewing scene of older years," said Ian Lowe, of the real ale campaigner Camra. "They are more heavily hopped and are higher alcohol content brews."
    I can only hope he was misquoted...

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  7. Chris - I guess it comes down to buying a new beer (a brand, at least) for the first time - it's the image which does it. I'm the same when it comes to wine - I buy by what looks nice because I don't know much about wine. The repeat purchase or the one which wanders further from the global lagers is the interesting one.

    Drinkerab - Well said!

    Anon - My guess is that he was asked a question about craft lagers without seeing the article or seeing the beers they were talking about. It was also probably a loaded question. Why CAMRA were asked to quote on American lager is another questions entirely...!

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  8. "The popularity of American craft lagers is very much down to how they offer similar traits associated with the British brewing scene of older years," said Ian Lowe, of the real ale campaigner Camra. "They are more heavily hopped and are higher alcohol content brews."
    I can only hope he was misquoted...


    His name was certainly spelt wrong (it's Iain Loe).

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  9. Sigh. It's as simple as this; Tesco think that the term 'lager' is hipper than 'beer' or 'ale'. A merketing man's wet dream, inaccurately and incompetently executed.

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  10. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. Tesco & The Grauniad, hang your heads...

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  11. The supermarkets have often fallen into the "all foreign beer is lager, innit?" trap.

    It's a shame a company the size of Tesco doesn't actually employ someone who knows about the subject.

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  12. Curmudgeon - That says it all in terms of accuracy!

    Leigh - That's a sad reality.

    Sid - Dumb and Dumber, you might say.

    Jeff - It's also a shame they don't employ someone who can actually construct a sentence (or someone who can copy edit a sentence).

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  13. I find the article in The Observer much more irritating than the Tesco labelling. I wouldn't expect any kind of integrity or accuracy from Tesco.

    Let's hope Nick Davies keeps doing his homework more diligently than the authors of that article...

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  14. Wow, this walks a fine line between "inside joke" and something you'd see on failblog. The average fizzy yellow swiller - whether British or American - probably doesn't know the difference between lager and ale so I'd guess that's their target demographic. You'd think by now (especially in the UK) that it would be common knowledge that ales and lagers are as different as red and white wines (well, sorta).

    Why this chain markets it as "lager" when it clearly said "Sierra Nevada Pale ALE" on the label is either 1) deliberate false advertising meant to bring in the Carling, Carlsberg and Foster's crowd or 2) the difference between ale and lager really is something that only beer nerds and snobs know or care about.

    I'm not the kind of guy that gets hung up on styles like Czech Pilsner vs German Pilsner or even porter vs stout - but branding ale as lager? C'mon!

    Mark, you should definitely write to Tesco's HQ and get a quote from their PR rep on this thing. I would be really curious as to their rationale behind such plain false (and poorly-worded) hyperbole.

    Cheers,
    -Chad

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  15. At least the Guardian got one right.

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  16. The average idiot wouldn't understand the concept and just look at the price. It amazes me that people have jobs with purpose to come up with research and it entails to this. Truly awful.

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  17. It's all chemical fizz though isn't it Guv'

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  18. Presumably they think they'll flog more aiming it at the many lager drinkers than the few beardies.

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  19. Jeff is right about the about the "all foreign beer is lager" assumption in mass market labelling -- I've even seen Westmalle Dubbel labelled as lager in one of the major supermarkets. What a shock the innocent Fosters drinkers who picked up that one must have had.

    But I'm disappointed by all the commentators who asked rhetorically whether we expect anything better from "dumbed down" Tesco. The answer is, yes we do, and we generally get it, too, round the corner on the wine aisles. I doubt we would see cava labelled as champagne, or Californian cabernet sauvignon and merlot labelled as claret. And if it was, and someone complained, the store would undoubtedly take it seriously. So why do we just shrug resignedly when we spot ales labelled as lagers?

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  20. Sigh. It's as simple as this; Tesco think that the term 'lager' is hipper than 'beer' or 'ale'. A merketing man's wet dream, inaccurately and incompetently executed.

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