Thursday, 16 October 2008

Sending Out the Wrong Signals



The Beautiful Beer Awards scheme was launched in March 2006, to recognise and reward pubs who deliver ‘excellence in beer’. To gain an award, pubs have to pass a thorough inspection of all aspects of beer service from cellar conditions to the beer in the glass. Successful pubs receive a Beautiful Beer plaque to display outside, as a guarantee to drinkers that the beer inside is of excellent quality. The aim of this campaign, owned by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), is to encourage more consumers to make beer their drink of choice on more occasions.

All fine and dandy you may well say. What a good thing you might say. So what has happened to this laudable scheme, primed with £600,000 of BBPA money? Well, they have axed both the founding director and the Public Relations Manager (who was the main contact and really ran the show) to concentrate funds on "political issues such as alcohol strategy and taxation." Don't know about you, but I rather like the idea of sorting out beer in pubs and spending a little on that. If they want to campaign on political issues, maybe they should find the funds out of another budget, rather than the beer quality one.

Awards have to have support and credibility to make them work and be seen to have value to the pub and the consumer. That means a proper structure, publicity and staffing. In a time when many pubs are empty, this move would seem to be taking an eye off the ball.


The awards scheme will continue it seems, but to me it has lost a bit of cred.

21 comments:

YCC - Dubbel said...

"To gain an award, pubs have to pass a thorough inspection of all aspects of beer service from cellar conditions to the beer in the glass. Successful pubs receive a Beautiful Beer plaque to display outside, as a guarantee to drinkers that the beer inside is of excellent quality."

Am I missing something here? Is this not just a Cask Marque replica? A scheme that holds no credibility with me (although I'd love to work for them!)

I have never heard of The Beautiful Beer Awards so doubt that the apathetic nitro/GK-drinking British public has.

Tandleman said...

It goes wider than Cask Marque and involves a cellar inspection which I think is key. My main point is though that the BBPA is knocking on the head, something that was about quality which is an obsession of mine. We have a few Beautiful Beer Awards in this area. The Beautiful Beer web site has them all, so you can check for your area.

Finally, you are unlikely to hear of it now!

Matt said...

The Beautiful Beer Awards are now run by Cask Marque
http://www.cask-marque.co.uk/cmoffer/beautiful.php

Tandleman said...

No secret that. I thought of mentioning it, but it wasn't the point I was making.

Tandleman said...

Actually. They are run by the BBPA and inspected by Cask Marque!

Matt said...

"The Beautiful Beer Awards scheme is now run by Cask Marque although the PR of the awards and the Beautiful Beer Campaign itself remains the remit of the BBPA."

http://www.cask-marque.co.uk/cmoffer/beautiful.php

Business speak but I think it says the same as your last post.

To highjack your post - I have found Cask Marque pubs to be no more reliable than just randomly selected pubs in terms of cask ale.

Tandleman said...

Matt. Then in your view, quality awards are pointless. I disagree.

Paul Garrard said...

When I first read about the BBPA changes it did strike me as being exactly the wrong time to be doing this. Whilst not true in all retailing at the moment where price does seem to be the key, pubs are going to need to be offering that quality edge to survive. To justify the price of beer a certain standard really needs to be reached.

I sort of agree with Matt on Cask Marque. I've had some god awful and mediocre ale in CM pubs. I like the idea of quality schemes, but reliable ones, otherwise they are like many of the awards on Idian Restaurant walls.

Jeff said...

In a time when pubs are empty

?

Erlangernick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erlangernick said...

In a time when pubs are empty

?


You know, your pubs are all closing down because the smokers are all staying home! Haven't you heard?

Tandleman said...

I hope that your pub continues to trade as well as it is Jeff, but that isn't the case in far too many others. I should have said "many pubs" and I'll change it.

What's the picture others are seeing?

YCC - Dubbel said...

The picture I'm seeing is the same as it's been for some time now: the best pubs are thriving, the average and (perceived) substandard ones are really struggling.

I'd like to think I'm as passionate about quality as the next ale nut. I just don't think the Cask Marque scheme is a reliable enough indicator. I've been to CM-accredited pubs that serve consistently awful ale. IMO they give away the plaques too cheaply and don't revisit and reassess often enough.

I know of a number of publicans of top ale haunts throughout England that share this view and some would actually prefer NOT to associated with the scheme. (Not that I would ever be so churlish as to be put off by a pub with a quality award.)

With the BBPA's close relationship with CM, I'm left skeptical that these awards would be any more accurate.

Matt said...

Tandleman,
You are correct quality awards have their place. I do like the idea of the CM system or even better the BB system since they inspect the cellar. My admittedly limited experience with CM is that it is not a reliable indicator of quality.

The Woolpack Inn said...

Well, Cask Marque did us no good. Most punters don't recognise it - I mean people who read this blog might, but beer nuts, as much as I love you all, don't make up the majority of the pub revenue.

Sorry guys.

Cask Marque, like The Portman Group, is funded by the big boys and as such is biased and fundamentally flawed. Cask Marque will only fail a pub under extreme circumstances; their remit is not to fail them, but to work with them to improve quality. But more importantly to make tie houses seem more desirable than a free house like us.

Just pick a pub that is free of tie, preferably a brew pub, and you’re on to a winner.

Tandleman said...

I kind of agree about Cask Marque though less so about Beautiful Beer as it is way more rigorous. I do agree with award schemes but they are all fatally flawed in some way - even the Good Beer Guide.

It is a difficult one.

YCC - Dubbel said...

I reckon we make up the majority of our favourite pub's revenue!!

The Woolpack Inn said...

Yup, you're right tandleman, ALL award schemes are flawed, although I might argue not fatally, but flawed none the less. The Good Beer Guide as well….but I’m not going to say too much there ‘cause my pubs in it!

And when I say ALL, I mean outside the beer industry as well. For food for instance look at the disparity between AA Rosettes, Michelin stars and Egon Ronay, although beer drinkers may not care about any of them......

Or films, books, plays or TV programs – how many times have we said that so and so should never have got an award and such and such is better?

YCC - Dubbel, I'm pleased you do contribute so much to your fav pub - keep up the good work. Unfortunately there aren’t enough of you!

a swift one... said...

It would only have gone on to show that Huddersfield is best - and we all know that already!

Tandleman said...

I'm off there (Huddersfield) with good old Tyson on Thursday - any tips?

Jeff said...

Woolpack, I disagree that a pub needs to be free of tie in order to offer good beer. Why would that guarantee quality?