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Modern Times Beer founder calls out use of ‘finest all-natural ingredients’ in beer marketing

Our beer will not be brewed with the finest all-natural ingredients, nor will it be made by hand. These are meaningless clichés trotted out when a brand has nothing to say. There is no “natural” or “unnatural” malt. “Finest” doesn’t mean anything. And the notion that commercial beer is made by hand—or that “handmade” is a positive attribute in beer—is a fallacy.

A quick Google search shows this phrase in use (at least in part) by Anheuser-Busch, Samuel Adams, Blue Moon, Abita, Green Flash and others. Thoughts?

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16 thoughts on “Modern Times Beer founder calls out use of ‘finest all-natural ingredients’ in beer marketing

  1. This appears like Jacob is trying to tout his eye for the obvious. He needs to relax and simply make beer instead of just blogging about it.

  2. I agree. The brewing process is the same, whether you’re making one gallon or 200,000 gallons. All beer is “hand crafted” to some extent. Craft breweries may not use adjuncts and may use better quality ingredients (although even that is variable) but no one is using unnatural ingredients. One would hope this was the case at any rate. It’s all market speak.

  3. It’s called… marketing. Everyone that is already familiar with your product doesn’t care what the label says, as long as the product fits their needs. For those customers who are not familiar with your product, you want them to get a general sense of what to expect when they use the product. Of course companies are going to be generic statements like that, it’s what appeals to most people.

  4. Jacob has an intriguing point, but I would recommend against going all “Greg Koch” with their marketing when they haven’t brewed any beer yet. Make some beer first, then start talking crap about other breweries. Alienating your fellow brewers isn’t a productive first step.

  5. There are push-button breweries out there, and there are also breweries where nearly everything is done by hand. Clearly this clown hasn’t visited many craft breweries. Also, there are plenty of chemicals and interesting materials that can be added to beer and then removed during the filtering process. Get a behind the scenes tour at a large brewery and you’ll see that while the malt is natural, many of the things added to the mash or during fermentation or cellaring are not.

    I would be scared to drink his beer, and if he’s not making it by hand than he must be processing it through some push-button contract brewery.

  6. “I would be scared to drink his beer, and if he’s not making it by hand than he must be processing it through some push-button contract brewery.”

    That is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Outside of the handful of super micro brews that are basically running a large homebrew setup, the vast majority of breweries never do anything “by hand”.

    What, you think they are taking a few hundred gallons of hot water and dumping it with buckets into the mash tun and not using pumps? Or dumping that by hand into the boil kettle, not put into sanitary and often cleaned tubes that are pumped over?

    Comments like that show that even among enthusiasts there is a huge deal of misinformation about how the brewing process works.

    Beer is a product made with commodity ingredients in a largely industrial process. The equipment at your local 5bbl craft brewer is pretty much the same as the stuff at your local AB brewery, just on a much smaller scale.

    The beauty of it is out of something so simple we can get such an awesome product. Romanticizing terms like “hand made” or “finest ingredients” are just that…silly romantic marketing BS. Good on a brewer for actually putting that out front and not riding the wave of stupid marketing speak.

  7. It’s fascinating to see the difference between the comments here and the comments on Twitter.

    Thank you, Jason Harris, for being a voice of reason in a sea of macho posturing and uninformed nonsense; comments sections truly are the dregs of the internet. But to emphasize your point, commercial brewing is more similar to manufacturing concrete than making a piece of furniture or a garment “by hand.” It’s all about context.

    And to those offering some variation on “brew beer first, then voice opinions”, I would ask if you believe that opinions on craft beer from people who never have and never will make beer, like beer writers and consumers, are invalid. Because I believe critics and consumers have a lot of valuable feedback to offer brewers; they’ve certainly played a hugely influential role in the wine world, among others.

    Cheers & thanks,
    Jacob McKean
    Modern Times Beer
    @ModernTimesBeer

  8. Here are some more dregs for thought. Just make the damn beer, have people drink it, and then you can get back to your daily blogging and tweeting tomfoolery.

  9. Matt,

    It’s quite possible to get into as much tweeting and tomfoolery as you’d like and still make hundreds of gallons of beer and have time left over.

    Cheers!

  10. As a potential customer, I know I love being called a “dreg” by a brewery owner. It definitely gets me in the mood to buy their beer.

    I know Jacob probably didn’t intend on calling out craft breweries that label their beer as using the “finest ingredients” or is “handmade”. I believe that the remark could be interpreted as elitist and full of disdain for his fellow craft brewers – even if he has an intriguing point about mindless marketing words.

    I would just advise caution when making your opinions public in that sort of disdainful manner. It’s also a negative connotation. Instead of, “we’re not going to do this,” maybe say, “we’re going to be completely honest with what we’re putting in our beer and put it in specific terms.”

    Modern Times is going to need help from established brewers once they start brewing and they’re going to be less inclined to help if they think you’re a dick.

  11. I appreciate where you’re coming from Gary, but I really do believe anonymous comment sections are the absolute worst. They allow for totally irresponsible bomb-throwing, and this thread is evidence of that. I’ve been urging Adam for a while to upgrade to Facebook comments, which would force people to own what they say, and I believe, vastly increase the value of his site. As it is, almost all of the intelligent discussion about the topics Adam posts happens elsewhere.

    To respond to the substance of your point, I believe I did explain in both positive and negative terms what I meant. This was the ringing conclusion to my post: “We will use whichever ingredients lead to the tastiest beer and the most efficient workflow, in that order. That might mean we use the cheapest malt, or it might mean we use the floor-malted heirloom shit imported from a castle on a scenic European river. It makes no difference to me.”

    And I get loads of help from many other breweries, none of whom seem to have the extremely thin skin of some Beerpulse commenters. In fact, Doug from Societe just bought me a beer, so we could debate the subject with drink in hand.

    Cheers & thanks,
    Jacob McKean
    Modern Times Beer
    @ModernTimesBeer

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