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Sunday 22 November 2009

Are drinkers getting younger?

This article isnt some sort of reflection on the age of people standing on our street corners with bottles of WKD and Stella but it started when a good friend of mine made reference to the fact that the ale industry is marketing its self toward an increasingly "younger" market. The friend in question, David Bald, is like me, an ale drinker under the age of 30. A good bit under the age of 30 I may add, before he disowns me!

Mr Bald in The Standing Order in Edinburgh

I do believe that the ale inustry is getting younger though. Go into any Edinburgh real ale pub on any day of the week and you will be sure to find plenty younger drinkers ordering pints of Peters Well, Green King and Dark Isle. Thats only part of the younger trend though. Its all fair and well that younger drinkers are becoming more educated about alcohol but there is also a growing trend in the UK to market ale towards younger drinkers too.

I have one word (well stricly two words)- BrewDog! I realise that I have already posted about them before but I truely have them to be greatful to. If I hadnt tried that bottle of Trashy Blonde at the age of 18, I dont think I would be ordering bottles from here, there and everywhere now. I would more than likely be stuck drinking pints of Guinness and would never know the world of choice that was available to me. I think it is important for the industry in general that companies such as Brewdog are around. Most of my university friends also made the introduction into the world of ale through BrewDog, including Mr Bald whom I already mentioned.

Without a shadow of a doubt it was originally because the bottle design and the wording on the bottles promised something which was different and interesting. The difference between Brewdog and any old other brewery is that they deliver on the marketing. Although I do classify Punk I.P.A as one of my regular session beers, it is not session in the same way that a pint of Teltleys is a session actually tastes of something.

But back to the idea of the industry attracting younger drinkers. I know some people are going to be up in arms and saying that alcohol should be something which is predominantly marketed to middle aged people so as not to encourage under-agers. I think that argument is a lot of nonsense! In fact it sounds like it was dreamt up by the Portman Group (more posts to come about them). It is rubbish to think that if you make all alcohol advertising seem like it is for older drinkers that this will deter under aged drinking. I say lets grab the bull by the horns and actually encourage our 18 and 19 year olds to switch from that bland pint of mass produced rubbish and have a pint of sometime that tastes of something, whether it is made by Brewdog or not.

The Lord of Darkness

I realise that one of the main problems in this is the practical aspect. ie. most pubs have a mass marketed lager on tap but do not have Stone Arrogant Bastard on cask. That is changing though, and so is the selection available in the supermarkets. It is getting better for real beer drinkers and I believe the young market is a heavy player in this. I say, lets not alienate our young drinkers, lets give them some knowledge and experience and make them see that there is more to life than a cheap pint of Stella. Afterall we have a lot to thank them for.....they will ensure that the beer market established now will grow forever and knock out the big players.


  1. im 28 and have been drinking real ale for as long as i can remember, but more so in the last 5 or 6 years, ive never really drank mass produced lager although did and still do drink john smiths, tetleys etc etc

    i think real ale has that old fuddy duddy image but in truth some of those that are producing and drinking it are young, energetic and very very talented!

  2. I agree, I think that it does have a bit of a fuddy duddy image but that times are changing. Im certainly able to persuede more friends now to try a bottle of Fraoch or Punk IPA than I have ever been.

    I think this does have a lot to do with both brands. Made by young guys with an eye for nice marketing. The truth of it is that for many young people they just see the bottle first and might dismiss it right away if it isnt snappy enough. Sad but true in a lot of cases.

    I do think this is slowly but surely changing though and I think we have the younger brewers to thank for it



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