In 1997, Tony Blair delivered a manifesto for the forthcoming General Election containing the three main priorities under a New Labour government: ‘Education. Education. Education’.
New Labour set about implementing their policies, after winning a landslide election. These were largely successful, especially in the area of improving GCSE grades amongst low performing schools.
Another political figure, Nelson Mandela, once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. He was right: studies have shown that prisoners who learn a new set of skills and grow their knowledge are less likely to reoffend, compared to those who remain uneducated.
At this point, you may be asking, ‘What has education got to do with beer?’. I would argue: everything!
A friend of mine recently asked me, ‘What is a Cold IPA?’.
‘Well,’ I responded, ‘it’s an IPA that’s cold, innit?!’
We both chuckled at my ludicrous answer but – truth be told – I had no idea. So, we used everyone’s favourite educational tool – Google – to find out.
I read aloud from an article I found called The Essential Guide to IPA before we tucked back into our own beers, safe in the knowledge that a Cold IPA isn’t an India Pale Lager but isn’t too dissimilar to a Steam Beer… but isn’t a Steam Beer.
You might be feeling confused – I know I was. I had to read it several times over before I fully understood what a Cold IPA is, and I thought I knew a great deal about beer.
But what about the vast majority of people who don’t know a great deal about beer…?
It’s easy to shy away from educating consumers in simple terms about what’s in their glass, various beer styles or the brewing process for fear of teaching people to suck eggs.
However, it’s also easy from within the craft beer echo chamber to assume that everyone who encounters your beers or attends your taproom are well versed in acronyms, hop varieties, vessel names, packaging types or beer styles.
The reality is that most people don’t know and aren’t going to ask.
It struck me recently when I picked up a can of a Double Dry Hopped IPA that consumers might overlook this beer, simply because the label in question didn’t offer any clues as to what a ‘DDH IPA’ is.
Though the label was extremely pretty, it only told me that it was a ‘DDH IPA’. Yes, it listed the hop varieties, ABV and units of alcohol, but nothing else. The brewery missed a trick by not using their label as a way to explain to their drinkers what it is they’re drinking.
Simple, relatable terms like ‘juicy, fruit and citrus’ are easily digestible terms. A short description of what to expect is a mere starting point when educating consumers about craft beer.
People relate to language they understand.
When my wife – a teacher – gets together with her teacher friends, they suddenly start talking in terminology that would make Shakespeare’s head spin; I am instantly excluded from their conversation and thrust into a world of acronyms and subordinate clauses. Imagine how a potential customer might feel if you start hitting them with terms like ‘foeder aged’ without explaining what a foeder is.
In a day and age where most people have access to the internet and social media, your website and social channels such as TikTok and Instagram are the perfect forum to educate people on what you’ve brewed, why it’s special and what people should expect using easily understandable language.
At the end of a brewery tour, many attendees – especially those with little to no idea about craft beer – would often tell me they had found a new appreciation for beer. By providing them with a little education, you may win a craft beer devotee for life.
Award winning beer writer, Lily Waite, wrote an excellent article for Good Beer Hunting (goodbeerhunting.com) called The Call Is Coming From Inside the House — Craft Beer’s Self-Inflicted Existential Crisis.
She accurately depicts the problem that most craft brewers have: they’re too busy excluding people through their marketing language (amongst other things – read the article!) when they should be welcoming new drinkers into the fold.
All it takes to win those people over is education, education, education.