I had the post already written out in my head. I knew what it was going to be – the classic Mark Johnson mix between criticism and cynicism - the two key ingredients of my life that have served me little purpose. Those who know me best personally would be unsurprised. Those who know me through beer drinking perhaps a little exasperated.
was the day that so many fell victim to clever marketing exploits. I’m not
constantly online so, whilst I’d seen some of the pre-launch hype, come May 16th
I wasn’t prepared for the sheer loss of sense and sagacity. It was the day that
one brewery in the UK showed so many beer geeks up to be gullible fools.
There’s nothing wrong with using social networking as an exploitive marketing
tool, but when you fall easy victim to the trap you’re a tool too.
I've had the whole (current) Magic Rock family, except for one. And so it is
that I open my Bearded Lady, Imperial Brown Stout. It's not brown though, it's
black. It's so black I have to check that I've not simply just closed my eyes
when looking at it. People tar pavements with lighter mixtures. The scent is
also beautifully sweet. It’s reminiscent of my youth stood next to a pic'n'mix
stand. There's liquorice, Black Jacks, Dark Wine Gums and Bassets Allsorts. I'm
a big Imperial Stout fan and this does not disappoint. "Born from their
Dark Arts recipe" they exclaim, which I already found to be superb. But
this just perfects perfection. I do not taste the strength. I'm just dizzying
myself in fresh pine nuts, wild berries and roasted coffee beans. It’s
delectable. What I love about Magic Rock is that there's so much hype around
their beers that I actually drink them with a certain amount of enforced
cynicism, only to be blown away every time. I'm only disappointed that its
strength means I shouldn't really be trying more than one, because I could
probably have this as a replacement for water. "The lady demands respect"
but if it were possible I'd propose to her right now.
I would love to try Un-human Cannonball. Human Cannonball is already one of my favourite beers from the last two years. No, I have not had chance to try this new beer yet and yes, I am jealous of those that have. But I will have it when the opportunity arises, when the façade has died down, when it is just another great beer to buy and enjoy. I will not have it when it is an anorak’s boastful claim. When you can say proudly – ‘I was the Apple tool who queued at midnight to have the latest iPhone because I am a marketing mug.’
I wanted to write a post lambasting Magic Rock, telling them how disappointed I am that a brewery I have admired since my very first taste of theirs could use so many susceptible people so easily. But there are two reasons I won’t do this.
1) It is not Magic Rock’s fault that you are all gullible tools. They are a business who need to make money and their use of online marketing to make maximum profit should be applauded.
2) I found this drafted blog post (posted below), completely coincidentally, written around February/March last year (2012) which truly shows my feelings about Magic Rock Brewery. Reading through it last night lightened the cynic in me over this whole affair. I am printing it here undrafted and in the form I found it. It was written as I tasted their Bearded Lady Imperial Brown Stout for the first time:-
“Magic Rock was another brewery that sprung up whilst I was slightly out of the beer loop. My brother went to the launch night at The Grove, Huddersfield, only to return with incredible rave reviews. Even after that, it was still a month or two before I got the chance to sample any of their beers. In the end it came about via a keg half of Human Cannonball, and I knew from that moment that everything I knew about British beer had changed.
“That sounds like an outlandish, exaggerated statement, but my next beer of theirs was only 3.9% abv, known as Curious, yet packed more flavour than some 8%+ double IPA's I'd had that year. High Wire followed, alongside Rapture and the incredible stout Dark Arts. Everything I tasted was a new favourite. I looked forward to their beers and was unsurprised to find my favourite pubs making them permanent fixtures of theirs quickly.
“I remember Stephen Merchant once saying that Brazil was full of so many beautiful women it was actually annoying. I'm annoyed at Magic Rock right now, but with a grin on my face the whole time.”
Reading back over this reminded me of the deep enjoyment I’d found through each of these brewery’s beers. I’ve actually written the words there, 15 months ago, “What I love about Magic Rock is that there's so much hype around their beers that I actually drink them with a certain amount of enforced cynicism.” I was humoured to find myself writing that at a time when Un-human Cannonball wasn’t even conceived. This latest beer may have brought out the cynic in me, but I am now convinced it will be terrific. No, I still won’t be boastfully claiming that I played the new Call of Duty before others because I queued outside Grainger Games from 10pm on a school night, my geekery has its limits, but if somebody uses the internet to hype something that deserves to be so then I will have no further reservations. I’ll need to taste the beer before I can make that call, for all I know, it tastes like a ringmaster’s gooch, and it’s up to each unbiased individual to decide that for themselves.
I don’t own the images used in this post.