I’m always on the prowl for a good reason to blog my splene and sometimes it is easy to see the worst in a situation, event or even a product. In the dawning of a new age for beer in the UK and the enlightnement of the masses, we tend to focus on the underdog. We champion their cause with good intention until we are hoarse, but in the same breath we often feel the need to have a quick pop at those who stand for a perceived opposition (sometimes with justification of course). Only three days ago I spotted a Twitter hash-tag and quickly learnt that as part of the monthly Brookston Beer Bulletin’s ‘The Session’, or maybe better known as Beer Blogging Friday, bloggers are invited to write and share their thoughts on a dedicated topic. Octobers host is Reuben Gray (The Tale of the Ale) and his theme for week 56 is “Thanks to the Big Boys“, which asks us to “… acknowledge the positive aspects of the big, multinational brewers that we so often admonish and criticize“.
As my ever so subtle post title proclaims, I have chosen Heineken N.V. (including their many subsiduaries) for my brewing ‘Big Boy’. Without being sidetracked, as I often am when writing, my earliest memory of Heineken the brand, was about 18 years ago when my dad would buy some tinnies in for christmas, a special treat if you will. It was the old style can and ring pull of course and we enjoyed sharing the beer while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark or whatever was on the box. At that point in time I thought that Heineken was just one beer. Since that time I have had no reason to look any further into their brand. They have continued to grow to become the global force they represent today and have absorbed many breweries and brewery groups during thei steady progression. However, it is not the well-known beverage in the green can and bottle as the reason for chosing Heineken as my brewing big boy, but more for a couple of its portfolio offerings.
I have to be admit that I am conflicted about writing this post, but in the spirit of this blogging theme I’ll try my very best to see the positives. You may already be aware but Heineken N.V. and the Bayerische BrauHolding AG (BBH) signed an agreement and set up a joint venture company. Through this partnership Heineken acquired a minority stake in two German groups of breweries and undertook the exportation of Paulaner Weiss beer worldwide. The venture group hold 50% of Paulaner Brauerei. It is for this reason, the export of the beer and not the shareholding, that I am grateful to this corporation. On the one hand I could round on Heineken and say “why not leave breweries like Paulaner be”, but on the other, had they left Paulaner alone then it is likely that I would be unable to nip down to my local off-licence and buy a bottle to enjoy at home. Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier is a firm favourite of mine.
While researching this post and reading into Heineken’s global reach, I was also more than a little suprised to learn that they also provide me with a French favourite of mine in Pelforth Brune. It turns out Heineken International bought Français de Brasserie in 1988, the brewery that produces the Pelforth brand. I have enjoyed this beer while on holiday in France and more recently being able to find it in a couple of the great beer shops in the UK (see my links page). Thanks to Leigh at ‘The Good Stuff’ for the photo, see his review and food pairing here.
Heineken N.V. claim to be a global business with a sensitivity for harnessing local produce and retaining their culture and integrity. Well, as a consumer of at least two great beers that I loved before I learnt of their bed-partner, I have had time to reflect and concluded that the beer is good and their branding certainly remains true, despite it reaching my hand via a beast of the brewing world.
I must say I have enjoyed being part of The Session (cheers Reuben) and I look forward to next months with great anticipation. Thanks for reading.