Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sleight of Handpull



I see Marston's owned Hobgoblin has introduced a new handpull which sports that same old goblin that gives most of us the creeps, this time captured like a mediaeval gargoyle in a metal pump clip, along with a new longbow design pull. "This creates more theatre around pouring and service in pubs", said Hobgoblin marketing manager Justin Way. Of course I'd like you to believe that he didn't say this, but he did.

You have to admit though, horrid though the images are, Hobgoblin has brand recognition and I suppose that's something that can't be sniffed at, but I'm not sure this redesign will attract anyone, but then again, I'm an old stick in the mud. You can't argue with facts though and Hobgoblin is growing fast, up 36% in volume year on year. In addition to the new handpull, Hobgoblin will be pushed as "fast cask" to get it into venues where currently real ale isn't sold. Whether you think this a good thing though is another matter. I'm not a fan of the beer at all.

One thing though? Theatre of the pour? Bollocks.

Sorry for the title. I've been reading too much Beer Nut.

22 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

A beautiful title, sir.

Theatre of the Pour is a huge thing among Big Evil breweries. Bars here have started to look like rows of slot machines as the fonts struggle to outdo each other in height and electrical doohickery. It's made pubs monstrously ugly.

I guess with tied houses you can't even depend on sane landlords saying "You are not putting that THING on my bar."

Paul Garrard said...

"Theatre of the Pour" suggests that the ale could become incidental!

RedNev said...

The theatre of pouring is just what I want 3 minutes before closing time in a pub.

Where on Earth do they find these people?

Jeff Pickthall said...

I picture this Justin Way dressed in full D&D wizards garb.

If he doesn't wear it, he should be bloody made to, at all times. If that D&D shit is good enough for their beer he should live by it. If he feels at all stupid, he will be getting an insight into how I, and many others, feel about their irritating branding.

Barm said...

So we have Marston's pushing fastcask™ (I think that's how you're supposed to write it according to the marketing wankers) and BrewDog pushing Proper Real Keg … which will make an impact? Either?

ChrisM said...

I quite like it. *gets coat*

Velky Al said...

RedNev, I am fairly sure that MBA these days stands for Master of the Bullshit Arts - seriously most marketing people I have to deal with talk non-stop constant cack.

On the whole fast cask and proper real keg thing, I can't help but think that if it ain't broke don't fix it. Mind you, I get the feeling some times that the "craft" brewing scene is really a bunch of kids with attention deficit disorder looking for the next big thing.

Cynical? Perhaps.

Montague said...

Ah, Proper Real Keg!!! Got a Pale Ale on now hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Riwaka and Citra!!
Grist was 80% 2-row and 20% rye. Hit with a constant 10 psi of extraneous co2 for 5 days!!!! You bet your ass, glorious!! All it needs is a big breasted, blonde, SoCal beach babe on a Proper Real Keg tap clip and it's ready to roll!

Peter O'Connor said...

This is not about the "Theatre of the pour", this is about capturing the confused pub-goers attention as he wonders into a pub, looks at 3 regular hand pulls and one with a statue and goes "Oooh, what's that?" Marston's aren't the only brewery playing at it, Black Sheep are also up to the same trick, http://www.blacksheepbrewery.com/handpump/

It's a gimmick aimed at capturing people who don't drink much ale, the same way that fastcask is a way of getting more stockists.

Personally, I think you want more quality, less fastcask and less shortcuts. I'm not a fan of hobgoblin, but it has an image, which stands out from many other beers. Whether your brewdog or marston's, you need to give your beers and image, story, feel- to differentiate from all the others, to scream louder, to sell more.

But really? Theatre of the pour? "Foxtrot Oscar"...

Leigh said...

Absolute. Marketing. Tosh.

Eddie86 said...

When you see the font, and the lady with hobgoblins all up her arms, coupled with fast cask, you can see this is Marstons trying to get ale into 'venues' that wouldn't normally sell it. I would imagine similar to what Bombadier was doing when they released a new font. Coupled with fastcask, this might actually get somewhere though.

Found the picture http://st1.morningadvertiser.co.uk/content/img/articles/89229/230x170.jpg

HardKnott Dave said...

It would be easy for me to agree with you all here, and of course I do, really.

BUT, the "theatre of the pour" should not be underestimated. Most good beer in this country is very poorly presented; real ale in Carling glasses, poorly designed pump clips, glass filled incorrectly by rubbish bar staff and just damn dirty glasses.

The best beer in this country suffers from theatre of the poor.

Cask beer suffers a poor image and it may well be the case that Hobgoblin does nothing to improve this, but they are trying to make cask beer a little more sexy, more of us should do that.

Either that or we'll all go for Proper Real Keg.

Paul Bailey said...

Didn't this "Theatre of Pour" nonsense originate with Guinness, over in Ireland?

As for Hobgoblin, it's never been a drink of choice, so far as I'm concerned.

Tandleman said...

Couldn't agree more about poor presentation. The theatre of the pour I want is my beautifully conditioned sparkled pint settling while my money is taken and then the wonderful finale of the top up. That's what I call theatre!

DJ said...

As Peter O'connor said these pumps are going to catch the eye of the un-initiated and help them sell a lot of beer, I can't blame them. As for the beer itself I think Hobgoblin is a quality beer and didn't become a poor one just because Wychwood was taken over by 'the evil that is Marstons'

Tandleman said...

DJ - I don't think that either. It wasn't to my taste before Marston's got their mitts on it and I still don't like it now.

DJ said...

That's fair enough Tandle but I do feel a lot of people are negative to anything associated with Marstons and Hobgoblin has lost a lot of it's popularity away from the masses because of this.

Tyson said...

I'd have to disagree with that. I don't think "a lot of people are negative to anything associated with Marstons". Some beer geeks don't like them, sure, seeing them as the "big brewer" enemny, but ordinary drinkers don't have any such scruples.

Marstons involvement with Hobgoblin hasn't changed my opinion of it-I can still take it or leave it, but unless you're a real beer snob, you have to admire their very successful marketing.

ChrisM said...

Personally I applaud Marstons' ability to take over breweries and keep them open on the original site, and even invest money in them after major disasters, unlike Greene King et al.

DJ said...

OK Tyson I probably should have put 'a lot of beer geeks' it's that typical attitude of it's big it must be bad and I just don't see it with Marstons. As ChrisM says they seem to be able to buy brewers and leave to do what they do best.

Gazza Prescott said...

Hobgoblin used to be OK years back when Glenny made it. it's grown weaker and correspondingly sweeter ever since and the current incarnation tastes like toffee mixed with aspartame and horlicks - disgusting.

It holds the dubious honour of being one of the only beers I've not been able to finish in the past couple of years!

And it's been shit for years way before they were taken over.

Erlangernick said...

I'm beginning to wonder if Gazza and I weren't separated at birth. I encountered Hobgoblin for the first time ever (?) last month, and it struck me as barely drinkable (if that--and that a half!), brown bilge.