Monday, July 10, 2017

WEEK 109--Craft in ASIA---to FOLLOW or to LEAD?

×中英文版本有差别
This is a somewhat leaning towards idealistic piece about craft scenario in Asia from a  Geek's "by-stander" point of view.

Here in Asia--people who are genuinely enthusiastic about investing time/ money/energy to either become a 100% craft-importer, run a full fledged craft beer bar/bottle shop are quite a rare breed--simply because there are other businesses that would likely bring faster return of investment- require lesser efforts in educating consumers or staff about the whole spectrum of what craft beer/mead is all about....
在亚洲,有心投入时间金钱精力经营CRAFT的人不太多。
跟做大厂啤酒生意相比,经营CRAFT有时候就好比是没事找事,自讨苦吃。
为什么这样说?很简单,因为绝大多数消费者都知道大厂啤酒就是冷饮快喝的简单酒精饮料,可是绝大多数人都不知道CRAFT的不同类别风味,这意味着经营CRAFT需要投入时间精力传递如何选择/享受不同风味啤酒知识讯息,或者说教育消费者,听起来就头疼。
在亚洲,最普遍现象是,无论是欧美澳纽入口啤酒又或是有本土酿坊的城市,这三大类会是市场最通销啤酒,其一浅白易喝适合新人口味的pilsnerpale ale ,其二是不少人以为就是代表craft beer全貌的IPA,其三稍微“重口味”的stouts/porter
这是正常现象,打开门做生意,面对的现实问题不少,业者投入金钱时间精力当然希望生意有回报,确保生意有赚头当然很重要,尽量卖多一些比较畅销货色有什么问题?
The fact is--craft beer/mead business is NOT for anyone/everyone- there's a certain level of enthusiasm/passion/beliefs needed for someone to want to dive into that black hole of running a craft business--and that's perfectly fine--we don't need just anyone or everyone to come running into craft businesses though end of the day--just like any other businesses--passion/beliefs alone won't be enough to make business sustainable--all businesses need MONEY to compliment any noble intentions or enthusiasm--and that's when things might get a little complicated here on....
以吉隆坡来说,Craft在本地已发展接近6年左右,当时本地第一家自己进口啤酒的专卖吧从开业第一年因为生意麻麻差点结业到现在已发展分店到分销啤酒到吉隆坡以外一些餐厅酒吧来说,这条路走得不容易。
 只是,对少数狂热啤迷来说,吉隆坡的“外号”是沙漠,这是个半认真半开玩笑的说法,亚洲城市来说,吉隆坡虽然只有三几个比较认真的业者,craft专卖吧瓶子店加起来也只有四家左右,以本地不同业者引进的品牌类别来说,不至于是沙漠状态,对初尝者或刚开始接触craft新人来说,选择算不错的。
 那为什么要说吉隆坡是沙漠?对少数狂热啤迷来说,“沙漠化”导因是,市场来来去去能喝到的就绝大多时候都是三大类,很多时候还要是相同类别中比较平庸选择,这里没有很多不同类别风格选择,更谈不上大力推动CRAFT品饮文化。
Go to any cities in ASIA--and there's no surprises at all to find the 3 most commonly available beer styles would be:-
PALE ALE   IPA   STOUTS/PORTER
these 3 would probably be the best selling craft apart from the more commonly available Germans wit or Belgium ales.....

In a market inundated by MACRO offerings for decades--it's certainly not easy at all to run a craft business when majority who spend money on BEER still don't know there's a choice called craft beer, hence the question of :-
TRY TO LEAD
*do one set out to try and change the market drinking choices by introducing beer(or even mead) line up just as how the importer/owner( of bar/bottle shop) like/ wanted?
OR
GO WITH THE FLOW
*play it safe--play it slow--go easy on the "difficulty level" of beer/mead line up--bring in those that would suits majority drinkers taste profile--build up the market share and be contented with the fact that it's sustainable craft
It's obviously NOT an easy choice--when one is putting in considerable amount of money/time/energy trying to build a craft business in a "minority" market, in any business analysis/forecast plan--the answer is obvious--a business need to first survive--make profits--be sustainable---then only one can talk about "idealistic ideas" of wanting to have awesome varieties of beer styles to "uplift" the taste profile / palate/appreciation level of drinkers. This is the cold hard truth of business and it shows in quite a many craft places over different cities across ASIA.
这是在说吉隆坡是个很差劲的喝CRAFT城市吗?也不是的,实际上这样说对本地业者也不是很公平,政府多年来的超重税政策,加上近年节节败退的可怜马币让原本已经不利的经营环境雪上加霜,不过,要是放在很高水平要求基础上和亚洲一些不同城市,特别是也面对不利税务政策影响的曼谷做比较的话,吉隆坡还是做得不够好。

其实不只吉隆坡,对亚洲不同城市业者来说,如何选择也是个习题,是顺应市场绝大多数喝惯大厂啤酒消费者口味而只卖通销三大类? 还是说要本着引领市场口味而我行我素?当生意牵涉到金钱时间精力时,这个决定当然不是纸上谈兵那么简单。对啤迷来说,问题也凸显在这点,业者觉得市场不够成熟,新人朋友接受度不够,所以采取比较稳妥做法,尽量顺应市场口味。换个角度看,啤迷觉得如果业者不尝试引领市场口味选择,意味着新人们只能跟着业者脚步走,市场有什么就喝什么,碰上也是狂热啤迷的业者那还好,至少会有一些比较不同类别佳酿出现,如果遇到的只是稳妥做生意业者,那新人朋友大概只能三四年喝来喝去就那几支,或只能自己摸索前进了。
Is "going easy" on beer choices/line up a bad thing? From craft introduction point of view, the answer is NO--"easier beer choices" is actually good for craft to set foot in a minority market--it's good for newbies and it's good for business owners in terms of sustainability.
However--if we were to put the requirements higher--and purely from a GEEK'S point of view(i know--i hear you says why don't go open up your own)--then being safe and being contented with the same easy choices beer line up would equals to STAGNATION.

Yes--it's not easy at all to get brewers to want to sent their brew over to ASIA--especially those who gone big time hyped/ in demand---and it's a really time consuming/energy sapping/risk taking business to import/run a bar/bottle shop---but if we were to look at the very basics of market supply --in theory it would be craft importers/bar/bottle shop owners who would be the source of supply--meaning THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CAN DECIDE WHAT TO SUPPLY HENCE LEAD THE MARKET-LEAD THE DRINKERS, because unless a drinker is buying on his own from overseas--drinkers can only buy from what's available locally, and if the operators don't lead--then who?
从推广craft文化出发点来说,业者当然是引领并推动市场的力量,无论是作为入口商或经营专卖吧瓶子店或者说本土酿坊,市场供应本来就是由业者提供,消费者只能跟着业者脚步走,理论上业者当然是引领推动者,很欣慰的是亚洲的确已有些业者是这样做着。
 当然,当绝大多数消费者对啤酒观念还停留在大厂无趣啤酒时,要引领改变不容易,是的,站在场边指指点点很容易,穿上球鞋下场比赛去就不是那么一回事,只是,作为狂热啤迷,有时候还是忍不住唠叨一下希望亚洲CRAFT可以变得更美更好。

During a private bottle share recently here in KL, where we had some beers sourced thru own efforts, a friend who is more of a casual craft beer drinker said " if no one bring in these beers, then i will never know what is the different between awesome brew and a average brew--or say what's a NE style IPA..."

In ASIA--it's not realistic to wish or to compare with what our beer/mead friends who resides in US or EUROPE can get--the reality is such that when people in US can proudly says he or she don't drink IPA that's more than a week's old--we in ASIA can only dream of drinking that same IPA say maybe less than a month's old if one really seek for it on his/her own as it's very RARE(and don't really makes financial sense?) for ASIA importers to want to fly in fresh IPAs from US/EUROPE.

It's obvious ASIA cannot take US or EUROPE offerings /availability as yardstick--that's just too far fetch and not realistic--However, from a geek's point of view--trying to lead the market by introducing more varieties/ better brew would go a long way in elevating the taste profile/palate/appreciation level of drinkers here though it could be a case of 'easier said than done" in reality--the point is --if operators stays contented with the same old same old average/ mediocre line up or been going with the flow ( i.e. follow what easy beer drinkers wanted) for too long--perhaps it's time to see if a little varieties here and there would bring some surprises to the breaking of stagnation of both operators and drinkers palate? after all -is it not because of wanting to make a different that a craft business was chosen in the very beginning?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

WEEK 108- NEWBIES Craft LINGO

在亚洲,绝大多数人不知道CRAFT BEER是什么,这是些在专卖吧/瓶子店或CRAFT相关社交媒体看到听到的情节。
Observing reactions from people who have not heard of craft beer or newly into trying some craft can be amusing at times--here's some FREQUENTLY UTTERED sentences/comments seen/heard on a daily basis either at craft beer bar/bottle shop or craft-related social media here in ASIA:-
1) Do you have something similar to XX brand(of MACRO BEER)?
This is quite a daily occurrences at any craft beer bar/bottle shop--somehow someone would just pop that question---which effectively saying "Don't give me anything strange or unfamiliar-- i want my familiar MACRO tasting BEER".
It's human nature to resist change --or it takes time to step out of comfort zone/accept new things--but hey--this is just beer( or maybe mead)--and it's so much more fun and delicious than your average BEER--there's no need to feel threatened or fear.
IN FACT--walking into a craft beer bar or bottle shop and asking for "something which taste like a MACRO BEER" is just like walking into a fresh fruits juices bar and keep asking if you could buy a factory made can/bottle of juice from the super market--it's obviously a scene of being at the right place but asking the wrong question.....
1)有什么是最接近X牌子(大厂啤酒)口味的?                                 
很多刚刚接触CRAFT新人都只想喝类似自己喝惯的“浅易喝”大厂啤酒,对看起来很陌生的啤酒名称/品牌/类别风格显得有点困惑,虽然对不熟悉事物有抗拒感是可以理解的人类本能行为表现,不过也是件有点好笑的事,感觉就像踏入鲜榨果汁专卖店却一直问店员有没有超市卖那种瓶装/罐装果汁。
虽然一开始CRAFT可能让一些新朋友觉得“胆怯”不想尝试不熟悉风味啤酒,其实也没什么可怕的,不就是啤酒吗?更何况是比大厂啤有趣何止百倍的众多不同口味选择。
2) Give me the BEST beer/most Delicious beer
It's a common scene where someone walk into a restaurant and asked "what's the best dishes/ what's the most delicious food?" here in ASIA.
However--trying to apply the same logic when in a craft beer bar/bottle shop would not work--because with that many varieties of beer styles/taste profile--who is to say which beer is the BEST of the lot?
OK--there's so called top 100- top whatever chart listed out there on social media by beer rating websites-apps-magazines-experts and so on--if you a firm believer of others opinions about where a certain beer would place in a "top xx/xxx chart" then so be it--but the truth is--no one knows for sure which is the BEST beer.
2)请给我“最好喝”“最佳”的啤酒
去餐厅点餐时候,常常有人会跟店家说“请介绍这里最好吃最拿手的菜”。
依照这个逻辑,有人会在CRAFT专卖吧/瓶子店这样问并不出奇,问题是,这样子问店员有点等于是走入水果店,然后问店家说,什么水果最好吃?什么水果最佳?那么多不同类别风味水果,你觉得会有绝对答案吗?
CRAFT的世界里,的确有评酒网站/应用程式并衍生出类似“啤酒排行榜”的“民意调查”,可是,真要说清楚什么才是最好喝,最佳的啤酒,可以很肯定的说,没有绝对答案,一杯啤酒好不好喝,排除酿造水平/储存情况因素不谈,还需要考虑不同类别风味,或者说喝酒人当时心情状态,是不是有比较想喝什么类型啤酒而定。
情况就像榴莲号称“果王”,可是,会是每个人心目中最好吃,最佳水果吗?
Let's micro zoom a little here--on what might influence one's judgement about how a beer taste( to decide if it's a good one at that time of drinking)---let's take out the issue of whether it's good or bad brew--also take out the issue of how the beer might be handled logistic wise--let's just say it's a beer in good condition to drink--what might influence one's judgement about a certain beer is still quite a few:-
A) what are you looking for? or even crave for? a light beer? a heavier one? sweet one? bitter one? sour one?  
B) physical condition at time of drinking--fresh palate? tired already?
C) personal preference on beer taste profile influenced by food/fruits preferences..
Just imagine this scenario--you walk into a fruits stall full of all kinds of fruits--and you ask " which is the BEST?"--how to even compare apples with oranges? and while there's this saying that DURIAN( in particular the Malaysia species) is the KING of Fruits--how many of you out there would agree in unison?
3) This beer is so expensive/ so cheap
Let's agree on 1 thing first--that everyone view prices/value for money ( or not) very differently.
In ASIA--different major cities would have different taxes/policies in place by respective governments concerning alcoholic beverages including craft beer/mead --and the different ways of beers/mead being imported(officially sourced or grey imports)--hence it's obvious prices of same beer/mead from same brewery/meadery can have price differences.
BUT--even if there's no price differences caused by those mentioned above--assuming prices stays the same from Tokyo/Seoul to Beijing/Shanghai to Hong Kong/Taipei to Bangkok/KL/SG---THE FACT is there would always be some geeks who are willing to pay over the odds( say USD100 or above) just to secure some rare/hyped/hard to come by beers from US/Europe---while there would also be a bunch of people thinking to pay a few bucks more for a certain craft beer is just expensive/ not justifiable.....
3)这支/罐啤酒好便宜/好贵
很显然,什么是便宜,什么是贵,每个人都有不同看法。
一支啤酒应该定价多少钱是因人而异的事,举个比较极端例子,对亚洲一些狂热啤迷来说,有人会因为某支限量难找加上欧美城市运费而愿意付出上百美金代价还觉得庆幸能买到,相反的,也有人会因为啤酒卖价比大厂啤酒贵十块钱而觉得太贵。
在亚洲不同城市,因为税务结构,因为不同业者各有不同方式/管道引进啤酒(比如说正式代理或灰色渠道引入的“水货”),也因为不同CRAFT品牌之间有量多量少/红不红/受不受追捧等因素影响,同样是名词意义上的“啤酒”,价格可以差很多。
喝啤酒确是个人口味看法不同的事,只是,有时买到“便宜”啤酒未必就是赚到(有留意装瓶/罐装日期?赏味期限?有没有晒坏?),给太高“二手价”追难找限量啤酒也不是什么值得高兴的事,毕竟,啤酒价值还是体现在酿品味蕾口感层次表现,既不只是随便冷飕飕喝的解渴酒精饮料,也不是因为限量难找就一定好喝或拿来炫耀的战利品。
The fact is--there's no need to think you have gotten a bargain by picking up some super cheap beers in a supermarket or such because unless you have checked the expiry dates/bottling/canning date/storage condition--you would not know if the beers still worth that few bucks you have just "gained"/spent.
As for geeks who chases after rare/hyped/hard to come by beers--the true value of that bottle is still about how it taste--it's not something to brag about or showcase as a shinny trophy.
4) Give me the STRONGEST tasting/ Highest ABV beer
Anyone asking for this would probably due to :-
A) thinking that the higher the ABV--the stronger a beer would be in taste profile--which obviously is wrong/misguided perception--the truth is some badly brewed beer can taste full of alcohol even at 4 or 5 % ABV--while some well made beers/mead can taste so "harmlessly smooth" at well over 10% or 20% ABV.
B) been watching too many badly made movies/drama series thinking that drinking beer is just to get DRUNK.( wake up--it's not cool)
4)给我酒精度最高,最烈的啤酒
出现这种要求通常两个情况,一是说这话的人想追求醉的感觉,另一个就是误以为酒精度高/口感烈的啤酒才是比较“重口”,比较“喝得出味道”。
误认为酒精度越高/越烈代表“口感越重”或者说“越好喝”是完全错误的观点,啤酒的美味层次并不单纯取决于酒精度,基本概念是,高酒精度啤酒未必一定就是喝起来“重口味”(酿得好的可以完全没有“重度”,易喝到吓死人),低酒精度啤酒也可以有丰富美味层次,好喝到不得了。
如果你觉得喝酒只是为了买醉,醒醒吧,都什么时候了还相信烂电影烂电视剧桥段?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WEEK 107---Craft What Fun?

2013年底朋友鼓励抱着写玩玩心态开始“CRAFT IS ART” 部落客,到隔年写“顽啤主张”,有朋友问到底Craft魅力何在,可以让人如此着迷?来聊聊到底怎么回事。
It's been quite a while since this blog started, here's a little "looking back and forth":-
1) how it started?
About 5 years plus ago--going to the only dedicated craft beer bar in town--the drinkers would almost always full of either expat or foreign tourists, the percentage of local drinkers are quite small- that's when a friend suggested " why not try writing a blog about craft beer in Chinese?"
(*Malaysia as a muslim country--technically speaking it's only the Chinese with 20 plus % of population and Indians at about 5 plus% who are not bound by "prohibition laws" and can drink freely) 
Then again--since there are Chinese who don't read Chinese, as well for the benefits of some friends who are not Chinese--a Chinese + broken English blog was born in late 2013.
1) 怎么开始的?
56年前去本地唯一1craft beer专卖吧时,都是外国人居多,有朋友提议说为什么不写中文啤酒blog尝试推广?后来想到有不会看中文朋友,也不管半桶水英文,于是变成中英文双语版。
2) drinking craft---what is it all about?
it's still beer drinking--only and HUGE difference is Choices available.
Imagine this--all the MACRO BEER you been drinking so far is like eating Plain White Bread and nothing else.  Drinking craft is more like making bread into all sorts of delicacies -you could put on fresh vege or ham or eggs or add some fruit jam-peanut butter jelly- toast it- roast it---the possibilities quite endless...
2) craft 到底怎么一回事?
本还是喝啤酒,巨大不同是变成有很多不同类别风味啤酒选择。
简单说,可以想像成以前喝的大厂啤酒都像是白面包,而喝craft beer就像是开始在全麦面包上做各种美味添加,涂上果酱-花生酱-蜜糖,变成三文治或烤土司等美味转身,听起来是不是美味多了?
3) what got you into the craft "black hole"?
10 years ago--anyone who chose to drink some "Macro-ish" German beer or Belgium beer here in KL is considered advance drinker ;) 
There's simply no supply of craft beer here until about 7,8 years ago when a small Belgium restaurant in Bangsar brought in beers like de la senne, st.martin,  Hopus, Duvel...that was probably the time when palate was open up somewhat. BUT the 2 beers that really gotten me was Rochefort 8, as well as a vintage 330ml Struise Black Damnation Mocha Bomb kindly shared by the owner, those 2 beers definitely impacted the palate in more ways possible at that time.
3) 什么情况下陷入浩瀚啤海的?
一直以来吉隆坡没有craft专卖店,当时会喝些德国啤酒就已很与众不同了,七八年前有一家比利时餐厅自己小量进口几个不同品牌比利时craft beer,那时算大概知道什么是不同啤酒美味层次,真正让人开窍的啤酒是餐厅主人分享私藏,一是Rochefort 8号,另一是已绝版Struise Mocha Bomb小支装,对那时候味蕾来说,这两支啤酒带来震撼是影响深刻的。

4) what fun being a geek?
Geeks at times are seen as "alien subject" by some other drinkers--simply because they are seen to be either too picky about beer or trying to make something as simple as beer drinking into complicated rocket science?
In truth the joy of being a geek is the same as say a foodie, it's all about finding and enjoying different taste profile, in this case, either a beer or a mead, and that is all geeks wanted, nothing too complicated really. 
and if you don't realized, being a geek in ASIA can be not much fun--painful even at times--simply because we lives so far apart from Europe/US where lots of awesome beer/mead originated from and hardly get any consistent or fresh enough supply.
4) 啤迷乐趣是什么?
有人觉得啤迷就是没事找事的一群不就是啤酒吗?有什么需要那么执着讲究花钱花时间精力研究,一定只要喝这或那的?
在亚洲,很多欧美厉害啤酒没人引进(或者说拿不到代理权),啤迷只能自主,通过欧美朋友或特定网店或啤酒对换方式等取得心头好,这其实是不太符合经济效益的举动,不过一些啤迷甘之如饴,为的只是想和同道中人分享尝味道。
说到底,啤迷就只是对啤酒风味水准有一定程度要求的一群,像喜欢美食的人那样,这是个讲求酿品水准美味层次群体,不了解的人觉得啤迷为了普通不过的啤酒而走火入魔是可以理解的,毕竟,不同风味佳酿能带来乐趣只有啤迷才能领会。
5) what so fun drinking craft?
first and foremost--it's different--though it's still beer--the varieties of taste profile one could get out of a craft beer (or mead) is so so much different from gulping your usual BUD or Tiger or Carlsberg or Tsingdao or Chang....
secondly- drinking beer can become something one could "taste"--the term tasting session no longer belongs to just whisky or wine--with craft beer you really can enjoy better with a tasting session- drink less taste more.
IF you are into or have friends who are very into certain sports or hobbies, say photography, cooking, rock climbing, writing or whatever--the joy is the same when you share and appreciate good craft beer/mead.
5) Craft乐趣是什么?
不喝酒人对喜欢喝酒人印象就是醉醺醺,喧哗,乱性,甚至闹事等刻板负面标签。
说喝craft是不一样的,一般人好像有点难以理解,因为不也是喝有酒精饮料?
对啤迷来说,喝craft基本像享受美食甜点咖啡品茶,是讲究味蕾享受美味层次,不牛饮不斗酒,意思是,啤酒在这里变成适合品饮(TASTING)的东西,不再是一般人印象中廉价酒精饮料而已。
因为品饮,因为不同美味层次享受,啤酒让啤迷之间找到共同话题,也因为craft文化特质,让啤迷间有了共识,找寻或分享美味佳酿是乐趣,让更多新朋友认识craft也是乐趣。换个角度看,啤迷的乐趣跟摄影发烧友或美食爱好者之间没区别,大家都有追求目标,也有共同语言。
6) does it make any difference---when majority drinkers just simply buy BEER and gulp it down?
It's a fact that MACRO BEER is the market leaders in terms of volume and easy access to getting it--but craft is here, craft is a CHOICE, and a much much better one (ok, fxxk some awful brew claiming to be craft)--people just need to open up their eyes and mind and give some varieties of craft a few tries before even trying to decide or judge if craft is worthy sip or to your liking.
craft in ASIA is still at early developing stage--if the US market took about 20 odd years to gain a strong foothold in the beer market while trying to fend off all kinds of tactics from MACRO--ASIA might need that long a time to get craft moving in the right direction--one step at the time--so long as craft community moves--the craft movement will move in tune...
6) 绝大多数人都随便买随便喝大厂啤酒,啤迷摇旗呐喊有用吗?
Craft主要靠口口相传,如何让更多人知道啤酒不是只有大厂品牌,craft beer才是更美味多变化选择不是短期内就能看到成效的事。美国的craft革命用了20年左右才有如今占整体啤酒市场销量10多巴仙成绩,亚洲肯定需要时间,而且搞不好比美国更长时间才能让更多消费者开始意识到喝啤酒时其实有更多美味选择。
7) why write when the market is dominated by MACRO still?
when this blog started--or subsequently when the local Chinese newspaper Guangming Sunday feature section invited to start a craft column--the thought is the same--it's to share thoughts about craft--though maybe it would be nice to be able to earn money while writing/sharing like J.K.Rowling or some big time blogger but i guess that's not happening/not gonna happen :)
end of the day--if anyone who read this blog/newspaper column or say someone met in person got interested with craft and went on to explore more--i guess that would be reasons enough to keep writing/sharing...(though i won't mind IF someone like to donate millions to the account and say go on be a full time craft writer or go and publish a book or something : )
7) 大局是那样,还有什么好写的?
无论是最初写部落客或“顽啤主张”,都没什么伟大理想抱负,只抱分享心态,想到什么就写什么,要说有谁看了会对craft beer产生兴趣,或觉得原来长大以来以为认识的大厂啤酒并不是啤酒全部真相,那就够了。

Monday, June 5, 2017

WEEK 105---you have CHOICES when it comes to beer


This is a fairly simple piece --it came out of a casual chat with someone about craft beer, during MBCC beer week  here in craft desert KL:-
"what is it about craft beer? what so special that people would fly all the way to Copenhagen just for beer? are you guys nuts?"
Obviously the guy who commented is not a beer geek--well perhaps not even a craft beer drinker but a curiosity drinker--and he is absolutely right to voiced out those questions.
中英文版本有差×
五月8号到14号是全球很多啤迷的大日子,去过或知道什么是哥本哈根啤酒庆典的,都了解为什么很多远在南\北美洲或亚洲啤迷的会千里迢迢飞去就只为了啤酒。
这样说可能会让很多人摸不着头脑,不就是啤酒吗?有需要特意花钱花时间飞那么远?会那样问的人很正常,绝大多数人都不了解啤酒有什么好喝到可以让人那么着迷,需要那样大费周章。
用一般人可以理解的角度来说,哥本哈根啤酒庆典就像是一星期的极致美味聚会,整整7天时间,平常日子已经是有很多厉害啤酒选择的哥本哈根变成名符其实的啤酒天堂,来自全世界(主要欧美)很多不同城市的所有大师级,最当红,后起之秀酿酒师都齐聚一堂,大家把自家各种不同风格口味佳酿拿出来,包括好多平时有钱也难买到的啤酒\蜜酒,让懂得欣赏的啤迷可以一星期内一次过慢慢品尝,作为迷,还有什么比这样的盛会更让人向往的?
You see--the world of beer is split into 2--there's the commonly available everyone knows MACRO BEER, and then there's craft beer( though i would say it's going to be 3 or already split into 3 with the role of MACRO-CRAFT coming into play) ---hence it's normal majority of BEER drinkers don't understand how and why geeks behave or go huhhhhuaaa about beer.

"what so different about the world of craft"--the curiosity drinker guy asked.
The biggest differences of course is CHOICES--there are so many choices with craft beer that it's like walking into a candy store or XMAS gifts shop.
可是,啤酒不就只是啤酒吗?
 的确,在全世界很多城市,几个人走进一家酒吧,对侍者说"来一打啤酒",很多时候,基本不用说喝什么啤酒。这是很多酒吧每天重复上演的画面,喝啤酒只是件简单不过的事。
 这是两个迥然不同的啤酒世界,同样是啤酒,中间差异太大,主要分别在于对啤酒看法,态度,文化等等。
 “喝啤酒不就是最简单不过事情吗?什么时候变复杂了?还要是迥然不同两个世界?这样说是意味着喝啤酒要变成复杂难懂,装模作样,所谓"有文化"事情吗?”有人这么问。
 的确,喝啤酒这件事本质上是可以很简单的,就算来到craft beer的世界,也可以是简单事情,要说其中最大差别的话,应该说在于怎么喝,喝什么。

"OK--choices--but is that to say you guys turning what used to be straight forward friends gathering-chit chatting drinking session into some complicated -smart ass beer sniffing -gourmet studying session?"
That is also quite understandable--of course geeks can be a bunch of weirdos who sniff beer as if they are tasting wine/whiskey--take photos of bottles like they are taking pictures of some rock stars or the finest art collectibles--all those make geeks look somewhat strange--to many a beer is just a beer--there's no need really to make things complicated than necessary.

Are beer geeks really that different from say guys who are crazy about photography? or say people who are into seeking out good food? or say people who love mountain climbing?

The answer is simple---what  beer geeks really wanted is to be able to seek out and appreciate high quality brew --and to achieve that geeks are prepared to do more be it to fly out, to pay a bit more than average drinkers would for MACRO BEER, to study a bit about beer styles and taste profile and so on---It's all about passion and interest level---all in the name of taste.
喝啤酒需要讲究怎么喝?
没错,啤酒原本就是被诠释为直截了当的轻松型酒精饮料,这是大厂啤酒一直为大家塑造的印象,也是消费者一直以来的理解。换个角度看,在craft beer世界裡,喝啤酒可以有更多其他层面享受。
 比如说:-
喝啤酒可以变成像是品尝美食甜点-或精品咖啡或品茶那样"有文化有层次有要求"的事情。这样听起来好像是在把一件很简单的事情搞复杂,唬弄人,要把原本质朴的事情搞砸?

如果一个饮客一路来只认识大厂啤酒,会这样想不出奇,因为对不少人来说,喝啤酒就只是为了跟朋友或亲人开心集聚,喝什么口味啤酒根本不重要,气氛和亲友间交流才是重点。所以,当一个那么"简单质朴"的大厂啤酒世界概念被强调不同风格口味啤酒享受的craft beer改变後,啤酒世界没选择不用选择的局面就已被打破。

"so craft has got choices-different flavour profile--but why should i drink craft?"
It's not a must for everyone who drink MACRO to turn over and drink craft--it's still personal choices what you would prefer to drink or where to drink---the 1 big reason maybe that since no matter if one is drinking MACRO or craft--it's still alcoholic drink which the body needs working to dissolve the alcohol, in that case, why not give your palate a nicer tasting beer than the dull and same same?
喝啤酒为什么需要选择?
随便买随便喝是不少人对待啤酒态度,大厂啤酒的便利让大家都以为啤酒是不用考虑口味选择的“廉宜饮料”。这当然是错误观念,因为啤酒绝对合适细味品饮,而不是牛饮喝醉。重点是,啤酒是含酒精饮料,意味着喝下后身体机能需要工作化解酒精,既然这样,为什么不只选择适量喝美味好喝口味变化多端的?
'what so different drinking a MACRO BEER or a craft?"
there's many technical aspects to go into details--perhaps think of it this way---it's like the differences of drinking a pack of frozen orange juice bought from convenience store as compared to a glass of freshly squeezed juice with 3 oranges? 

喝什么不都一样是啤酒吗?
一些人喝啤酒只为热闹或跟亲友聚聚,喝什么不重要,只是,看到大多数人完全不知道有craft beer美味多样化选择存在是件让啤迷揪心的事。的确,每个人口味看法不同,有人觉得喝大厂啤酒就很爽了,可是,对啤迷来说,打个比喻,酿得很好的craft就像是用3粒优质橙榨成的一杯果汁,更原汁原味新鲜好喝。跟超市卖的包装果汁是有一定区别的,既然有那样的美味选择,为什么不要?

"what so good or important to know what craft is?"
Let's maybe put it this way---knowing how to appreciate craft would bring about many different flavours for varieties of palate enjoyment.
Only those who gave themselves a chance to get to know craft better--as well know how to respect an alcoholic brew--would have the chance to appreciate the multitude of joy craft could bring.
懂得喝craft有什么重要?
或许这样说,懂得欣赏craft beer会带来很多意想不到的不同风味味蕾享受(虽然偶尔也有喝到难喝酿品受罪时候),也会比较懂得怎么去面对酒精,只有给机会自己口味选择,尊重酒精酿品的人,才有机会享受不同类别啤酒所带来乐趣。

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WEEK 104--the MUTATION of craft to MACRO-CRAFT

这期的英文是没按照报纸专栏中文版本,而是有点随心而写。
Yes--this is old old news already by the time it show up here.

五月第一个星期,很多不同城市啤迷都在议论美国酿坊wicked weed被国际大厂啤酒巨无霸AbinBev(曾烧大钱打广告讥讽craft啤迷只是装模作样一群)收购事件。
大厂啤酒国际大公司收购craft品牌不是第一次发生,啤迷反应基本离不开"失望""不屑""嘲讽"这些字眼。当然,也有表示"理解""赞成""是件好事"的人。对一般人来说,这只是一桩交易,有必要各种情绪反应?
啤酒一直有不同的两个世界,一个是只注重卖三几个单调产品,以追求市场占有率盈利最大化为目标的MACRO BEER 
另一个是craft beer --小量酿造,注重不同类别风格口味的美味世界。
But it's still worth a shot to at least try to let people know that there's indeed a world split into 3 :-MACRO BEER, craft beer----and the mutation which is MACRO-CRAFT 

在出现千变万化不同类型风格口味啤酒选择craft之前,啤酒世界只有大家都熟悉的大厂啤酒(MACRO BEER),那是基本没口味类别选择的世界,长期那样淡出鸟来情况下,有人开始试着酿造自己想喝啤酒,于是craft慢慢从自酿自供变成现在的百花齐放。
两个理念迥然不同的啤酒世界之间是界限分明的。如果把MACRO比喻为有钱有势,生产成本利润都有明确指标的豪门企业,craft就像刚出来创业的普通人,有的只是想把啤酒变得更有趣美味想法,对抢占市场低成本高利润这些生意概念不会放在第一位。说白一点,MACRO就是市场至上,利润为尊的生意人,craft则像是有点理想化的创作人。
In Asia--beer is obviously not a daily necessities--people would buy more other types of beverages than alcoholic ones--and if we zero in on craft beer segment--it's even much smaller.
With low awareness about craft beer--where generally people would only associate BEER as the whole and only truth they could think of when asked about beer--let's try and point out the differences:-
MACRO--multi national corporation giants--only focusing on a few famous brands-usually simple lager or pilsner and keep producing in mega volume--easy access is the key--flooding market is the aim- cutting down/out market competition is the means.
craft beer--thousands of small breweries--all sorts of beer styles/ varieties--flavour profile is the key--producing "what we could/ what we want" is the motto--fighting to be number 1 best selling beer in the market is NOT encourage by any means(though aiming to get rated as number 1 could/would be ;)
MACRO-CRAFT--the mutant born out of the marriage of MACRO and "once a craft" breweries--in other words--the MACRO-CRAFT are those craft breweries which for one reason or another decided to hold the hands of MACRO giants through a sell out deal.
了解craft文化的啤迷几乎都从喝MACRO BEER开始,因为那样,更能体会craft酿坊致力提供不同类别风格口味啤酒享受的努力,对只以三几个畅销品牌单调无趣啤酒抢市场的MACRO没好感。
换个角度看,可以说因为MACRO长期“市场专制”导致craft的出现,一定程度上,挑战“市场垄断”,“既定规则”的叛逆意味很浓。
MACROcraft既是完全不同理念,不同经营手法,不是一条路上的人,怎么会走到一起?答案很简单,卖掉的craft要钱,MACRO要市场。

so why would MACRO buy into a craft? and why would craft sell?
the reasons:-
MACRO needs to grow market share--and the only way to enter the craft market is by buying up existing craft breweries- what's better than using craft to fight craft?
craft sold out for MONEY( it could be for betterment of future growth-reaching out to more drinkers-retirement or maybe simply being naive--you name it- but end of the day it's MONEY- period)
跟不久前卖给同一家MACRO的上海拳击猫(BOXING CAT)一样,wicked weed卖的理由是因为可以凭借国际大公司的财力和分销网更好的发展。对出钱收购的MACRO来说,近年美国市场销售额下滑意味着必须做点什么制衡已经抢占啤酒市场十多巴仙的craft,既然自家品牌啤酒肯定不能跟那么多类别风格啤酒抗衡,那就来个以craftcraft,有什么有效过隔岸观火,利用原本同理念的酿坊打击自己打不过的敌人?
表面看起来,卖给MACRO的酿坊可以造更多啤酒,至今没有供应链的地区也可以连接上,酿坊可以更好发展,更多人可喝到优质啤酒,怎么看都是双赢,有什么好说三道四的?
实际上,被大厂收购的craft例子中,啤酒质素不见提升,相反的因为收购後为了业绩盈利而省时省力导致啤酒质素下滑的例子不少,这也是啤迷反应消极的主由。

By choosing to hold the hands of ABInBev - WW has chosen to become a CATEGORY of products under the wings of MACRO BEER -and by doing so -- contrary to what WW might think - they have also chosen to leave the craft community- yes, its only beer and friendship might stay - but the one thing WW might not realized when deciding to take the money and support from AbinBev is that the craft community is a wicked bunch - people in this community has got common belief that craft should remain craft - associating with MACRO is NOT. 

或许这样比喻,喝被大厂收购的MACRO-CRAFT有点像是去挂名米其林星级的连锁餐厅吃东西,可是,我们都知道,在本店以外吃到的,绝对不是星级食物,吃的只是宣传效果。
MACRO收购craft一定程度上也带来情绪挫折,像球迷拥护球会球星那种,打个比喻,如果梅西转会皇家马德里,或者说C罗转会去巴塞罗那,对一般人来说就是普通的球星转会买卖而已,可是,对皇马或巴塞球迷来说,这根本是天塌下来的大事,如果最能象征球会的核心人物转到死敌怀中,那种情绪反转只有迷才能理解。
There are some who slam geeks for being a bunch of "cry babies" who cannot see others getting a handsome pay off for years of hard work to build up that craft brewery/brand name--No Doubt--it's the absolute rights of the owners to decide what to do next with their own business/brand/brewery--that part is clear--there's no doubt they can decide to sell out to whoever they like.

Craft当然是生意,任何生意都有买卖可能,这是正常现象,只是,craft是有点特别的生意,有一定文化因素存在,没有MACRO那种各种手段砸钱抢占销售管道做法,也有反大企业垄断市场的"叛逆"心理因素,如果说一家craft酿坊最终目的是要成为百亿生意,那并没有错,啤迷唯一会觉得有问题的只是,酿坊是按照自身路线一步步前进,又或是说,一旦出现大厂收购这个捷径时候就改道了?
任何酿坊都可以决定抄小路走捷径,那是酿坊品牌主人的决定,那之后,啤迷也会决定那家酿坊的定位,不再会是craft,而是带讽刺意味的新名词-MACRO CRAFT

Also--there's no shame at all if a craft brewery declare openly that their aim is to be the number 1 best selling beer by volume in the craft market--or say to be a 100 million dollar business--there's nothing wrong to aim for that since craft beer is after all still business.
BUT--the moment a craft brewery took the short-cut of taking money from MACRO giants--that's where all the "complications" starts.

WHY CAN'T craft brewery merge/side with MACRO? is MACRO that evil? while a deal of MACRO buying into craft is generally perceived as nothing more than business--it is a big deal in many aspects (culturally-emotionally-and in the longer run market competition wise) to craft community and beer geeks, imagine these scenario:-
-ask yourself if it feels right to buy Messi if you are a Real Madrid fan? or buy C.Ronaldo if you a BARCA fan?

-if you love hand made/gourmet coffee--would you like Nescafe/Starbucks to own your favourite beans company to "make better coffee" more accessible to drinkers?

-if you love food--and you just heard McDonalds bought your favourite gourmet burger shop--so as to help grow the gourmet burger market?

It's true craft beer is a business hence every breweries/brewers can't run away from the harsh test of business competition/pressures of making a business sustainable/profitable--BUT--what makes craft business a little special is the unspoken community spirits--the craft culture--most geeks understand the common languages of craft--tying up close with MACRO giant's money/power is NOT one of them.
it is clear MACRO-CRAFT is aiming at newbies- people who would try craft beer for the first time--the ignorant, the "beer is just BEER- who cares who owns what" crowd.

By acquiring craft and making good use of them to fight the fight MACRO could not enter with their own beers--it is a "smart move" since they are capitalizing on the IGNORANCE of most drinkers who either don't know what are the differences between craft and MACRO--or just simply don't give a fxxk of who owns what.
In a small way--saying beer is only BEER or "i just drink--it's too complicated to understand craft beer" or " do i need to know who owns what to decide which beer to drink?" is a little similar to we earth people upon hearing about Global Warming or when maybe London- New York or Bangkok might completely disappear from the horizon--it's something which many would brush aside as "none of my concern- too complicated to understand--too distance from my daily routine".

to say the need to protect craft community from the clutches of MACRO is almost like trying to save planet earth is a little far fetch- but if we take a closer look at what JEAN of CANTILLON posted on FB both on 2nd APRIL & 10th MAY about rejecting 1 time craft turned MACRO-CRAFT Birra Del Bogo and how giants killed off competition and hence the closing down of lambic breweries in and around Brussels some 40 years ago--then maybe it's not that far fetch....( here's screen-shot of both posting--for more detail please check Cantillon FB)