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16-09-2016, 07:05
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Do you really want this lurking in your pint?

Last week, the Good Pub Guide gave us an object lesson in how to do a press launch – pick a single, straightforward message, in this case piped music in pubs (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/pipe-down.html), that they knew would resonate with their target market, and which generated acres of pretty much entirely positive coverage.
Fast forward a week, and what do CAMRA do for the Good Beer Guide? That’s right, concentrate on the widespread use of isinglass (a substance derived from the swim bladders of sturgeon) as a clearing agent in real ale, and suggest brewers should try to cut down on it. Surely highlighting this doesn’t exactly enhance the public image of real ale, and it also promotes the view that brewers should do more to pander to vegans and other weirdy-beardies rather than the normal drinker in the pub.
Needless to say, it didn’t exactly generate positive publicity (http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Drinks/Beer/Isinglass-in-beer-banned), with many seeing it as a call for isinglass to be outlawed in beer. Of course the message was misinterpreted, but the press, as anyone involved in public relations should know, don’t exactly do nuance and subtlety. Give them a simple, unambiguous, newsworthy message and they will run with it.
And Roger Protz was wrong to even suggest that less use should be made of isinglass. He should recognise it for what it is, a traditional, long-established ingredient in beer. Maybe it would have been more diplomatic to urge brewers to produce more beers suitable for vegans. After all, if there is a market it makes sense to cater for it. But even that, if it involves changing mainstream recipes, would be a case of the vegan tail wagging the omnivorous dog.
Sadly, even when confronted with fish in a barrel, it seems that CAMRA are more likely to shoot themselves in the foot. Whoever thought this would be a good way of publicising the GBG launch really ought to be taken outside and shot themselves.

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