Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Giving The People What They Want?

BrewDog is asking their customers to give them it straight about their pubs. Oops. Bars.  Force of habit that. I is old.

That's a very good idea and doing it publicly is also good.  It is to be commended.  I don't know how long the consultation will last, but some of the comments have been very enlightening to this outside observer.  They (BD) are almost universally praised under "What do we rock at?" for their customer service and product knowledge.  Well ten out of ten for that I say.  My readers will know that I have yakked on about the lack of customer service in British pubs for years and it is heartening to see that one company takes it so seriously, that in a feedback survey, that's what shines through as being praiseworthy. If only more followed that example.

When it comes to the question "What could we be better at?" perhaps unsurprisingly there's a lot of complaints about high prices, lack of a decent food offering (or it running out) and importantly lack of a good BD brewed lager and critically for those that like a pint or two, lack of sessionable beers.  Food can be excused to some extent, because few of their bars are that large and kitchen space must be a problem.  I notice in any event that they have a new guy looking at this, so doubtless improvements are on the way here, so I think we can set this aside as it were.  A good lager though I'd have thought, is essential in any craft bar and I believe I recall James Watt agreeing it was a bit of a weakness when I visited the brewery a couple of months ago. Fake Lager may have an ironic name, but it seemingly isn't cutting the mustard with some customers at least.

The fact that there are complaints about so few sessionable beers being available can be combined with another recurring comment.  Quite a few respondents complained about the lack of cask beer, citing how good it was - a point I have made myself many times.  Trashy Blonde is remembered fondly by a few respondents. I remember others fondly too and have written about them in the past. No  sessionable beers and no cask is seen as a problem by many of BD's own customers - or at least those that can be bothered to comment.  I think we all know what the solution should be, but I somehow doubt if we'll see cask returning.  It doesn't suit the image.

Let's hope customer demand proves me wrong.

Funnily enough soft drink range and the non beer ranges in general were panned.  I haven't even noticed that.  My bad probably.


Ben Viveur said...

Well, it's not the first time BD have invited comments on their website, and if the previous occasions are anything to go by, the only opinions that will be acted upon are those which sorta kinda fit in with stuff that they're planning to do anyway.

If people who still give BD the benefit of the doubt are asking for less bullshit, more reasonable prices and the return of cask, then they should not only consider this, but also the likely viewpoints of those 'below the tip of the iceberg' who have given up on Brewdog largely because they don't offer what they want anymore, and consequently can't be bothered to respond to their survey. I suspect there is a huge untapped market there.

(Incidentally, I thought 77 lager was one of their best beers, but few seem to agree!)

Matt Curtis said...

I went to two BD bars this weekend. Both had on offer the incredibly tasty and highly sessionable Dead Pony Club (arguably the best beer they are brewing right now) and both were serving up Weihenstephaner Helles with Sheperds bush also selling Victory Prima Pils from the US which was only 10p a pint more expensive than Punk.

Also, there is a hint of a rumour that one off cask specials might be on the horizon...

I still think they're not quite there with their food offering but they've hired a guy to solely look after that side of things it would seem and judging by his guest blog he knows his onions, so to speak.

Tandleman said...

Ben: That's an interesting point, but maybe BD don't want a broad appeal?

Matt: Not much to disagree with you on there,but I note that some respondents say DPC isn't available enough.

My point - and that of respondents was about an in house brewed lager, not what is imported which I suppose will vary by bar? Isn't Shepherd's Bush atypical size wise, being bigger by far>

Cooking Lager said...

They are giving the people what they want. A home for the craft wankers so they can steer clear of normal folk whilst being milked dry.

All we need is to stop the Spoons craft cans. It's attracting the wrong sort.

Curmudgeon said...

Isn't part of the concept to avoid the possibility of customers settling into a comfort zone?

Tandleman said...

Mudgie. May well be!

Matt Curtis said...

Yes, Shep's Bush is huge, 42 taps at last count I think.

I think the problem with Fake Lager that was it wasn't good enough. It seems to me though that they've finally got their head around their new kit and overall quality and consistency is better than it ever has been as a result. I think when they've brewed a lager they're happy with then we'll see a house lager return to the bars. I think going for the Weihenstephaner was a solid choice, from the looks of things they've entered into a long term deal with them too.

RedNev said...

I don't think I've ever heard BrewDog mentioned by anyone apart from beer bloggers, except on the two occasions I've seen it in the wild: Trashy Blonde on cask at Wigan beer festival and in the Lion in Liverpool. Otherwise, for the impact it has on this regular drinker's life, it might as well not exist.

Cooking Lager said...

It once got an appearance on Jeff Randall live, a business show on sky news, Nev. Jeff asked questions about the share offer, had a swig of the beer and said it was nice. The beer, not the share offer.

RedNev said...

That'll be it, CL: I don't have Sky, so I didn't realise Brewdog was so central to the zeitgeist!