Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Genius of Marketing

There was a fairly simple plan, recreate the glassware experiment that I did a decade ago, but this time with Guinness rather than Victory Prima Pils. Having bought a four pack of Guinness Draught, the one in nitro cans, from my local Wegmans I picked out what I felt was a suitable selection of glasses for such an experiment...


The selection consisted of, in no particular order, a "Franconia" glass, dimpled mug, tulip pint, straight edged pint pot, and a Willibecher. My intention was to pour the beer from the cans in the exact same manner - straight down and slowly lift the can until it is drained - so that I could ascertain whether the glassware had any impact on the pour itself, and then see if there was any noticeable difference in aroma, flavour, and all that jazz.

First up was the tulip pint glass, in this case a Samuel Smith's branded glass as it is the closest thing I have to the classic Guinness glass that preceded the current one with all its angles and shapes.


Obviously the can is smaller than a full imperial pint, hence the head space there that would send a "to the top" warrior into apoplexy. Still, it looks the part, decent half inch of foam, had a lovely bubble cascading thing going on, and took a couple of minutes to really settle out. It looked like a Guinness. It even smelt like a Guinness, with it's roasty notes and a bit of graininess, an aroma I know well from nearly 30 years of regularly drinking the stuff. The "like Guinness" theme continued with the flavours and all that other stuff that people go on about, it even had a goodly amount of foam that clung to the glass as I drank.


Ok, time for the dimpled mug...


If there was one glass that I thought might make a difference to how the beer poured, and therefore looked, it was my trusty old man dimpled mug. As I said earlier, the pouring method was exactly the same for all the cans I drank, so imagine my surprise when it looked basically the same as the previous pint, with the foam cap almost identical. It also smelt, tasted, and all that other stuff, imperceptible from the tulip glass.

Third time's the charm so they say, on then to the straight edged pint pot...


Erm...the same again. Looks, smells, tastes, other stuff, the same, again. I was starting to think that to get something even marginally different from the tulip pint I would have to get out a wine glass - I don't own any of those fart arsey stemmed glassware Teku things so beloved of true believers. Maybe next time I will try that, as it was I just knocked the experiment on the head, pretty sure that the Franconia glass and Willibecher would make next to no difference.

The whole notion of "proper glassware" is something that I find deeply suspect, like the old imperial dude wandering around in his birthday suit with nary a bairn to point out his nudity. That's not to say I don't like different shaped glasses, take one look in my cupboards and you'll find mugs of various kinds, pints of various kinds, snifters and goblets, and even a hand blown glass from Williamsburg. I just don't buy into the idea that a particular shaped glass is the proper option for a given style, or even beer from a particular country. Take a look on Ebay at the range of glasses available for Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, or even PBR, and it is clear that breweries are more than happy to slap their branding on basically anything transparent and used in a bar.

Having done this experiment twice so far I am still in the "nope, doesn't make a difference unless you want it to" camp, but as a marketing tool, glassware is pure genius.

8 comments:

  1. ah, the lovely Teku glass. I've accumulated a couple ( through no fault of my own ) and maybe used them once. They look cool in that social media way but they're just too delicate to comfortably drink from.

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  2. I wonder about "genius" given it is an expense that has no obvious return. Usually you can trace the expense but as these are constantly stolen, smashed and stacking the shelves of second hand stores it would be interesting to know what the actual ROI calculation is for the incremental cost.

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    1. It's a reference to a Guinness marketing campaign from the late 80s early 90s with the tagline "Pure Genius".

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  3. The exact results I thought you’d get. Glassware is mostly about branding but I will admit that some beers look more appealing in certain types of glassware.

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  4. Congratulations Velky Al on your US Citizenship. On the Fourth of July no less. I think that calls for a pint of Ol' George Washington's own homebrewed porter!

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    1. Fourth of July is also my wedding anniversary! Funny you should mention Washington's porter recipe, I am plotting a version of that recipe with a slight Jeffersonian twist - will be posting about it when I get round to brewing it in the autumn.

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    2. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary! Saw your post on your all Virginia homebrew. Fascinated about the malted corn, I have heard of old moonshiners who used to malt their corn or as some said "sprout" their corn. I am suprised malted corn is not used as the primary ingredient commerically by some distiller or brewer. Definitely would be a different twist.

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    3. Black Narrows on Chincoteague Island make a lager with a hefty dose of malted corn in it.

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