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    Friday, 28 December 2007

    The Dumbing Down Of Deuchars

    Nottingham CAMRA recently surveyed 102 pubs within their branch area. Pleasingly 98 of these sold real ale, and there were 178 different beers found.

    The most commonly found beer though was not something local, or something from one of the biggest English brewers, but a beer all the way from Edinburgh in Scotland.

    Yes Caledonian Deuchars IPA was found in 26 of those pubs visited. And herein probably lies the reason why this beer is not a patch on what it used to be. In 2002 Deuchars won Champion Beer Of Britain. At the time it was a lovely hoppy tasting beer with a nice fruity malty contrast and was wonderfully drinkable. Now the beer tastes like it has less hops and is sweeter than ever. It definitely wouldn't win any awards now and that's not simply because the competition has hottened up; it's because this beer has dumbed down.

    I could blame it on the take over of Caledonian by Scottish & Newcastle, and I am sure I am not far from the truth, but it's such a shame when a beer becomes too big for its own boots.


    Stonch said...

    S&N didn't take Caledonian over - it's still an independent company (S&N own a minority of the company's shares and the actual brewery premises, but that's it).

    maeib said...

    Stonch, That may be true but my understanding is that they at least own the brewery and premises and the facilities therein.

    I wonder therefore whether they have a bigger say than you would expect under the circumstances you describe?

    Do you agree that it is a far inferior product than five or so years ago, or are you lucky enough to have avoided it??

    Stonch said...

    "I wonder therefore whether they have a bigger say than you would expect under the circumstances you describe?"

    That depends entirely on the contractual relations between the companies. There'll probably be a shareholders agreement between S&N and the other major stakeholders in Caledonian, but as S&N only own c.30% I doubt they'll have much influence over the company's actions.

    The lease of the land and brewery premises granted by S&N to Caledonian may well contain certain restrictive covenants, but if the rent is commercial (which I'd expect it is) I'd imagine there'd be nothing out of the ordinary in there.

    Regardless of any of that, S&N have not taken over Caledonian in the formal or informal sense of the word.

    Bailey said...

    I remember thinking the first time I had Deuchar's IPA, a good few years back, that it was astoundingly good. Sadly, the last couple of pints I've had have been a bit characterless. But I'm not sure if that's just because I've had it in rubbish pubs; whether it actually has got worse; or if I've just got a bit more demanding of my beer.

    Tandleman said...

    I agree with what Stonch says about the commercial position but Maeib is on the money about the beer. I noted a similar point in Stoch's blog when I voted it as the most over rated beer in Stonch's recent poll.

    When you see it all over the place, two things are happening. The beer has become safe in that it won't challenge and can therefore join the Bombardier/GKIPA/Courage Best set. The second is that the beer has been heavily discounted!

    Stonch said...

    I neglected to say earlier, I too agree that Deuchars has clearly been dumbed down somewhat. It's now just a drinkable but fairly bland beer.