Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paul Talks About Beer for Money

"The Week of Paul" continues ... This time he explains how he got paid to do something he does for free at least three times a week-- talk about beer.

Walking around Union Square the other day, Diane and I were approached by a hipster in a plaid hat, tight fitting shirt and ironic pants. The question was posed:

Hipster: "Do you like beer?"

Me: "Do I?!?"

Hipster: "Do you want to get paid for drinking beer?"

Me" "Would I?!!"

Very soon I was writing down my contact info to be called later to participate in a beer marketing study.

After undergoing an extensive interview over the phone with one of the representatives from this company, I (but not Diane, alas) was chosen to participate in a focus group to share my opinions on beer.

It turns out that there was no actual beer to be drank at this focus group. It was just two hours of them introducing a name and paragraph marketing write-up of various fictional 'concept' beers to the focus group and having each of us give our thoughts on it and if we would consider buying it at a bar or grocery store.

Although I felt sort of duped (I swear that hipster told me that I'd be drinking beer at this thing), I was happy to give my opinion.

As many know, I brew beer, so I've probably got more opinions than the average person on what beer is, should be and could be. (Editor's note: And more opinions on beer than the average person wants to hear! Hehehe.)

Some of the marketing concepts I dismissed out of hand, such as 'Extra Virgin IPA'- a beer that was supposed to be made from the 'first pressing' of hops.

I pointed out that beer hops aren't used in multiple 'pressings'- they're used only once, then discarded to become compost or hog food with the spent grains of the batch- even commercial breweries do this. I said that I could not in good conscience support a beer concept that relied on duping people into believing they were getting something special based on a fictional brewing process.

Another beer concert was 'LocAle'- I liked the name and the idea of this, but the marketing write up, 'all local ingredients, locally grown and brewed in a local brewery' made this beer impractical.

I love the idea of a nationally available 'Philadelphia Style Beer' brewed in Philly, but there's no way that beer can completely comply with the whole locavore gimmick that's sweeping the nation.

I pointed out that hops only grow in certain regions of the country (not in the south for example) and that barley isn't generally grown right outside of major metropolitan areas (I don't think there's too many amber waves of grain around NYC).

One concept I liked was the fictional 'Global Grains'- beers from parts of the world that we normally would not associate with having beer. For example, a sorghum beer from West Africa or a lime and coriander beer from Thailand.

Part of this concept though was to send people over to those countries and help the locals build a brewery, bringing money and jobs into the local economy.

That doesn't seem commercially viable since it takes a massive amount of capital to pay for building the brewery and the supply chain and training the locals as well as paying any necessary bribes for permits and so forth. Also- I'm not sure if alcohol production is the best thing for thoroughly depressed areas of the world.

Anyway- I liked the idea in theory and would order a Thai or African beer if I saw it in a bar at least once (maybe not twice).

Overall- It was a kind of fun way to spend two hours, and the $90.00 I made helped ease my anger at having no beer to drink. I would, however, have gladly done this as a public service to make sure that 'Extra Virgin IPA' never comes into this world.

Read more from Paul at his blog, Presidents by the Book.


  1. Wow, now I really need to meet Paul! I love beer and many varieties of it. I'd love to learn more about it and it sounds like Paul may be the person to learn from!

  2. Guest blogging is fun. After reading this, my only question was what made the hipsters pants ironic. I know,I know, it's about beer. Paul, Diane we have to go to Croxleys one of these days. The beers are sorted by countries, and...I know you'll love this, but if you drink 40 different beers(not in one sitting)you get a free tee shirt. You get a card and they punch holes in it at the end of the night, so they can keep track of the beers you've drank. Anybeer, 40 bucks is not a bad deal at all(for not drinking beers)

  3. Thanks for teaching me some stuff about beer, Paul. I am now more enlightened than before.

  4. I think Paul will order anything at least once. I remember once at Larry's he got an O'Doul's just to order it in a bar.

  5. @ Matt- Experience, experience, experience, that's how I learned about beer. Diane might say I've spent too much time in that classroom.

    @MP- As a supreme court justice once said, "I don't know how to define pornography, but I know it when I see it." I can't tell you what ironic pants are, but I know them when I see them.

    That bar sounds like a winner- We should all make a field trip there sometime.

    @Gail-I'm a poor man's Buddha I guess.

    @Ryan- I'd order an O'Douls again, just to say I had it twice.



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