What Quality Beer Is

At the time of writing, the Dacia Sandero is the cheapest new car available buy on the UK market. For five quid shy of £6000 you can have a brand new car that will get you from A to B in moderate comfort in a no frills kinda way. It is the best selling car in Romania and Dacia has a strong hold in the marketplace in France too as Dacia is a subsidiary of Renault. As we all know, the French like small cheap runarounds, a line of heritage traced back through the 2CV, Renault 4, Peugeot 106 etc, etc. Dacia have sold 676,123 Sanderos in the last six years. That is a lot of cars, they must be doing something right.

In contrast the Ariel Atom is a small, lightweight performance car with almost no creature comforts. There is no bodywork, no roof and no windscreen. If it rains, you get wet, it is essentially some wheels, an engine and some bits of scaffold pole.The cheapest model is £38,000. The company who make the Atom are based on an industrial unit, employ nineteen people and they produce less than a hundred cars a year. There is no data available but I’m willing to go out on a limb, having owned a small run, hand built car in the past, it will go wrong all the time and, things will break.

Finally let’s consider Maybach who make bespoke limousines, based on large Mercedes bodies. Super luxury, only for the super rich and famous. Their base model is a shade over £210,000. They don’t sell many cars but are looked on as pinnacles of reliability and comfort. This is the highest quality car of the three, right? Wrong.

All of these cars, despite the fairly fundamental differences in price, performance and reliability can be looked at as high quality products. Quality you see, is an often misunderstood and misused word. The confusion stems from the myth that high quality is indicative of the best materials being used. It is no such thing. That is to do with intrinsics and extrinsics, something I think I’ll have to blog separately on. Quality is a user defined property of a product or service that relates to how fit something is for purpose. If you are a Romanian peasant who wants a cheap runaround that won’t go wrong the Dacia is high quality. If you are running the Ariel Atom as a second or third car and you take it on a track day once a month in the summer, it is a high quality product. If you are a bloated plutocrat or, Simon Cowell, the Maybach is high quality. Peter Drucker states that “Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for”.

We can apply the same argument to beer. The best selling beer in the world is Snow lager. Yup, I didn’t know it either. Turns out it is SAB Miller’s big beer brand in China. What with China being the most populous country in the world, it stands to reason they are also the biggest beer drinking nation. Despite having never tasted Snow lager, I’m pretty sure it tastes like the fizzy yellow piss it looks like. Despite the huge amount of money SAB spends on quality control, I wouldn’t consider it to be a high quality product. For your average aspiring middle class Chinese, it is probably is, as it satisfies what they want and are willing to pay for. There are hundreds of small breweries in this country alone who employ nineteen people on an industrial estate on the outskirts of town who make small quantities of, to my mind high quality beer who do little more than keep a bottle back in a forcing cupboard for their records. Sure, their beer will be variable and a little bit wonky sometimes and I’m not saying that is the right way of doing things, in fact quite the opposite, but they make beers I want to drink and don’t mind paying money for. It is all subjective.

One man’s beer is another man’s poison.


One thought on “What Quality Beer Is

  1. I’ve had Snow beer in all its variations. It is, as you suspect, a bland mass market later. The other famous Chinese beer, Tsingdao (Qingdao), is slightly better and was notably established during German rule. They brew a dark version that’s a bit like a dunkles and only available on cask near the brewery.


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