The beer giveaway that sells punters short

What do you say when a friend tells you all beer tastes the same?

People who pride themselves on good taste in wine will tell you they can’t tell one beer from another. Those who know good coffee will say they’ve never had a good beer. I can completely sympathise with beer sceptics, because it’s quite possible they have never had a decent one in their lives.

Take the current promotion running at St John’s Bar, a Wellington Heineken joint. Called “Around the World”, it says, “We shout you 4 free beers from different parts of the world”. The multinational range? – Sol (lager, Mexico); Monteith’s (NZ brown lager); Heineken (lager, brewed in NZ); and Tiger (lager, brewed in NZ).

Taste your way around that lot and you’ll come away thinking, “Yes, I’ve tried to like beer but it really does all taste the same. Pass the wine list please.”

The sad fact is that many Kiwis have only ever tried two different beer styles – premium lager and New Zealand brown lager, aka Draught. The Around the World event has both styles, so there’s nothing novel there. Three of the four are made in the same brewery, by the same people, using the same equipment. That’s not Around the World.

It’s disappointing that the bar industry is still treating its most important product in this ignorant way. I genuinely believe St John’s promotion is shortsighted and could end up losing customers. It will either drive punters away from beer, or to bars that offer a better range.

As for describing three New Zealand beers and one Mexican as “Around the World”, I just believe that’s disrespectful to punters who deserve to be treated honestly. I accept that bars do not have a duty to educate customers, but I don’t accept that misinforming them is OK. It might be giving them beer but it is definitely taking the piss.

What do you think – do some bars sell themselves short in the way they market and present their beer?

8 Responses to “The beer giveaway that sells punters short”

  1. Spot on! This really does more to turn people off beer than on to it, which as you say, is contra to the market they actually want… madness.


  2. I think people that go to bars like this aren’t the kind of people that give a shit about beer, or even have the brain capacity to think about beer. They just aren’t ready to think about beer being beyond cold yellow and fizzy.

    It really sums up the absolute risk adversity of the large brewers when it comes to making beer with flavour. If it actually tasted like something then you might offend someone or they might actually taste something, like it and become passionate about it and get their friends to try it for a reason beyond the brainwashing advertising they currently have to use to con people to drink there multi-brand single wort stream beers.


    • Don’t hold back now Luke, tell us what you really think! ;)


    • Wholeheartedly agree with Luke here.

      I went to this bar once, soon after it opened, because I’d heard the fit out and food was amazing. The food was ok but I felt like the price I paid had a “fit out surcharge” on it. I had a glass of ok wine.

      I’ll go a step further and says it also sums up the risk averse nature of our bar and restaurant owners too! And I’ll tell you who it is aimed at… the people who currently drink their cheaper options, the people they want to upgrade to a “premium” or “super-premium” product.* The people who can have the wool pulled over their eyes.

      These people are not adapting fast enough… the next generation will have a smaller set of people who can afford to purchase in the “premium” price bracket and these brewers and bar owners will find themselves fighting over the mainstream space again.

      * “premium” = “bigger margin”


  3. Yeah, I couldn’t bring myself to go down there for that. Ended up, friday afternoon, at the Southern Cross with my head in a pitcher of Emerson’s Pilsner then walked home smiling.


  4. Totally agree with your comments.

    However I wanted to take part in the promotion myself as the 4 beers were free (you don’t even have to drink them) and you get a $40 meal voucher at the end of it! However all 750 places were full by the time I tried to register.


  5. I will tell this friend that he is no longer such. Because my true friend would never say that. Each beer has its own taste. And this is a fact.



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