Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Sink this Silliness

I've finally gotten around to watching the Sink the Bismarck video, apparently when I was trying to catch it yesterday it was down and being re-edited, but I can't see how it could have been much worse.

Sorry lads, I like you personally and have taken quite a bit of flack about not blogging or writing about your increasingly erratic, headline-grabbing tactics because I really wanted you to succeed and thought that perhaps quietly communicating privately with you would be a more civilised route to take.

So, I was thrilled when TNP's labelling was so elegantly worded, which seemed to echo the approach I suggested to James, and that the beer was so good - but I know I'm not alone in feeling let down by your latest stunt because it's just not acceptable.

It's morally and socially unpardonable to think it's okay to use an event where nearly 2,000 people died to get back at rival brewers, just because they made a stronger beer than you - in fact, as I type that and see it in black & white I have actually cringed, I hope you have too.

And saying that it's named after the film is no excuse either. What would you say if a company run by Afghans or Iraqis called a soft drink 'IED - it'll blow your mind!', would you think that was funny, or amusing, or entertaining?

Because that's also about as sensitive as using the words Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles - the first verse of the national anthem that was banned along with the sexist second verse because it recalled the reign of the Nazis!

Frankly, I'd like to see you get back to concentrating on exciting, interesting and groundbreaking sessionable drinking beers because, to be honest, the last three 77 lagers I had were diacetyl bombs and the last 5am Saint was distinctly oxidised.


  1. After getting some German colleagues to view it, that bit with "Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles" was the one thing that some said was close to bad taste. I assume they were being stoic about the rest.

  2. Sorry, meant to say thanks for the feedback

  3. I'll grant that it's not something a lot of people know about but it's something they should - as for the rest of it I would imagine most Germans are now just as bored of this kind of tired 'humour' as many of us are.

  4. I don't know if "morally and socially unpardonable" quite fits. My family of Clyde shipyard workers were Blitz targets and we have always had a robust sense of anti-Nazi mocking humour. We can also distinguish between Germany today and Germany of the Bismark as well. Shouldn't we assume that Germans today equally reject the politics of evil?

    I don't have anyone having a personal problem with the labeling (it's not my place) but morphing that into a general level of political correctness to include Nazis is a bit weird. As is the idea of remembrance and getting bored with the whole "totalitarianism is so yesterday" thing. Humour is an excellent way to retain the memory of a military dictatorship of the most evil sort and the need to remain vigilant against them.

    [PS - sorry if this multi-posted. Browser acting up. Makes one wonder who is really behind the internet.]

  5. More chemically competitive masterbation than brewing art I fear, an insult to brewing and our European neighburs. Tending more towards the prose of the Daily Sport than actual brewing.

    To brew good beer is an art to toss off into a bottle and claim that it is innovative on the label is er less than imaginative, I gave up using fractional crystalisation to make rocket fuel from cheap homebrew when I grew up and left University.

  6. I hear you and I do admit that I am as much following the family's ethic myself - yet, that includes Dad seeing the HMS Hood leave the Clyde under full power only to have the Nazis of the Bismark kill 1,415 or so Britons a few days later. If it were not for the sinking of the Bismark soon after how many more would have died and how would the fight against Nazis altered? The Nazi dead were a grim but urgent necessity.

    But maybe it is that is exactly the point. It is fine for good robust humour to be used as a way to remember all the grim but urgent necessities - but co-opting that for slim and transitory commercial purposes is the wrong. I can see that.

  7. Hey Melissa - spot on post, the name of this beer is unnecessary and completely inappropriate. Interestingly James is claiming in his defence , over on Woolpack Dave's blog, that "We are still pretty young and learning all the time." What rubbish, a 9 year old could tell you that this is wrong, if they at least owned up to using it as a deliberate PR tool I might have held onto some vestige of respect for them!!

  8. Hey, it's got you readership though hasn't it?

  9. I must say I was rather appalled too by that display of worn-out WWII clichés about "Zee Tschermans" just because Schorschbräu are a German Brewery.
    This kind of rubbish is 65 years out of date a vision of Germany and its inhabitants - on the whole quite a peaceful and tolerant bunch nowadays...

    But I guess that, given their flair for publicity, if they use that line, there must be an audience for it. ;o(

    @ Barry : my take on it would also be that they were being stoic about it. In my experience WWII's a slippery field in which many German people still do not express their feelings openly.

  10. Good move, Dave. It's racist and I intend to complain about it to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

  11. Im not as vexed about the name I have to admit as I am about the product itself, I mean thats not to belittle any loss of life in WW2 attached or otherwise with the Bismarck, but weve accepted Shepherd Neame selling Spitfire in a pretty jingoistic WW2 manner for some time "Downed all over Kent just like the Luftwaffe" as an example and its believed over 2,500 German airmen lost their lives during the Battle of Britain alone. So for sure not the best idea for a name Brew Dog could have ever dreamt up, it probably should have been called "Schadenfreude" as that seems more akin to the message they are trying to make,but so I dont feel I can take them to task on the name.

    the product though, a quadruple IPA, 4 times the hops, 4 times the bitterness, even if it wasnt strong enough to strip paint off the wall, you know thats going to be an acquired taste even in short measures, and with another wallet busting price tag to match. So they arent going to sell crate loads of it, and it kind of undermines the point of their own Tactical Nuclear Penguin, all for seemingly a case of one upmanship against a German brewer most people havent heard of and probably arent that interested in anyway.

    I just would prefer they spent their time brewing more interesting "alternative" (I hesitate to use the word normal in this context) beers, ones that arent just about strength as seems to have been their norm of late, the American craft brewing scene shows you can make some interesting beers, IPAs, whatever, and not just be constantly mucking around with alcohol content as the sole marketing angle.

  12. Personally, I don't find the name upsetting (, but you raise some very good points. My thought is that they can only get away with these antics if they produce excellent beer. I'll be following your blog from across the pond.

  13. @Eddie: BrewDog have had, and admitted to, well-documented quality problems, mainly (as I understand it) with beers exported to the US, but also anecdotally, some draught and bottled beers available in the UK.

    So what if brewers don't read blogs?

  14. You miss my point Melisa, allow me to reiterate: it's perfectly acceptable to give a balanced and constructive critique of beer, worts (sorry) and all - it isn't so good doing it as a knee-jerk reaction to something the brewer concerned may have done to offend you - that's petty spitefulness.

    I'm sure you don't mean it this way but that's the way it looks. As a brewer, I'd be wary of upsetting you in case you publically and widely gave my beer a good slagging off *as a result*, in retribution.

    That's all I meant.

    And by patronage I mean support/cooperation etc.

    See you at the Rake on Friday?

  15. I think some people need to lighten up a little bit on this one.

    If a small part of you didn't think that video was funny in any way, I'd question your sense of humour.

    The Punk IPA is tasting pretty damn good down here and you cannot beat the comic value of these guys. And hey, at least it appeared that James tried to learn a bit of German, more than can be said for 99% of the people on this island.

    I'm off to watch it again and probably piss myself...not because I'm some raging's bloody funny! Funny sells beer!

  16. Sorry RedNev, that's my quote, get your own material.

    Oh, and remind me not to invite you to our screening of BeerFest.

  17. I see you're having Brewdog into the Rake to do a tasting of the beer though, despite your reservations?

  18. Jeff Rosenmeier: if you'd read my comment properly, you'd realise it's not precisely your quote. I'm heartbroken not be invited to something I'd never heard of before by someone I'd never heard of before.

    On another point, I know from experience that that people who find racist humour funny always say they're not racist.

  19. @Anonymous - I'd like to make it very clear that the Rake is not my business, lovebeer@borough is the business I have an interest in and it has nothing to do with this event.

    The Rake bar is owned by Mike Hill & Richard Dinwoodie and run by Glyn Roberts - and whilst we collaborate on lovebeer@borough I have no right to tell them what to do with their business and my opinions are not theirs.

  20. As the dust settles I note that the German brewers have not taken offence this time, quite the opposite in fact.

    Good of you lot to get offended on their behalf though.