Cardiff city centre is blessed with an attractive and bountiful annual Christmas market. Stalls operate out of a temporary set-up of gleaming, polished sheds up along the Hayes; the scent of German bratwurst wafts past your nostrils as you gaze at ornaments carved from Welsh slate, wooden toys, handmade soaps and all manner of other interesting, artisan products.
Normally I don’t pay much attention to Christmas until after December 4th, which is my fiancée’s birthday; after that I can consider Christmas, before then and she starts hurling crockery in my general direction. However, on one quick stroll down the Hayes, I couldn’t resist the lure of a beer stall. I am but a weak man, so I wandered over and found a stall selling these.
I insist you take a look at the site, but if you’re not the sort to stop reading a blog part way through, I’ve included a few choice samples of the beers sold by Direct Beers in this post. When I shared the link on Twitter the reaction was somewhat savage. I can see why. I haven’t tried the beers, so I’m not in a position to pass comment, but if I had to hazard a guess I would imagine the contents are competent, generally pleasant, if nowhere near as offensive or memorable as the labels would suggest.
Say what you like about me but the notion of drinking a freshly poured pint of Cat Piss doesn’t appeal. It could be a hot summer’s day, I could have walked 10 miles down a dusty country road, my mouth drier than Gandhi’s flip-flop (to quote a friend’s favoured saying) and if the option was a bottle of Puke or another 10 mile hike to the next pub, I’d be asking for directions.
So who buys this stuff? Well it’s Christmas. There are distant aunties and office Secret Santas and Last Minuters all struggling to pick gifts. If they know you like beer, and they haven’t a clue what the difference is between Stella and saison, then they’ll go for the quirky label. Since 6 of their 18 beers are Christmas themed, it’s evident where they do their best trade.
Don’t ask me how Direct Beers survive the rest of the year, maybe the beer really is good, or maybe the branding appeals to a certain group of people. They’ve been going for seven years, so someone out there clearly loves drinking Dog Piss.
Ultimately, it’s a business and Craft Wankers, real ale twats and beer geeks aren’t the core market. Given their Viz-like crude humour, I’m sure they don’t give a monkeys if people sneer at their branding. So, is this low-brow beer to be lauded for presenting a tongue-in-cheek selection of beers that might encourage people to go further into the beer world once they get past the dodgy label, or is it an abomination that should be killed with fire? Thoughts?
On a final note, if BrewDog’s wish came true and their definition of craft beer was passed, then there’s every possibility that Direct Beers would be classed as a bona fide Craft Brewer. Worth considering next time you wade into that particular debate on a Friday night after too many Imperial Saisons.