ALE 26th Cambridge Beer Festival No. 295

Here We Go Round A Different Mulberry Bush

(Being a follow-up to the article in ALE 293)


Bass are spending 8M on a TV campaign (with additional below-the-line expenditure) on Caffreys in an effort to change a hybrid Irish Ale into a competitor to the premium lager market (Stella, 1664, Becks). The product was created by Bass Northern Ireland in the former Caffrey's Brewery, based on the old Irish red ale style. Now "Irish" and "Ale" are to be dropped.


  1. Bass has lost its first place in the UK market to Scottish & Newcastle.
  2. Bass has repeatedly failed to penetrate the premium lager market: witness the failure of Tennants Extra, Lamont Pils, Steinlager, Grolsch and Carling Premier.
  3. Premium lager is the fastest-growing sector of the market. Given (1) & (2) above, Bass needs to be seen to respond by the City analysts.
  4. Irishness is no longer in vogue: witness GK dropping Wexford; witness the latest Guinness adverts (all Irish heritage dropped).


From being launched with a laid-back Irish heritage "strong words softly spoken" as a consistently cool, creamy Irish Ale, Caffreys now will become at the stroke of a marketing pen a lad's drink for a Friday night full of promise, based on the line "storm brewing"!

That cynical exploitation and the one-dimensional, minimal taste (exacerbated by temperature) is proof to the discerning drinker of its lack of quality.

Fashion Victims

Bass fail to appreciate that Caffreys becoming fashionable was not entirely unrelated to the removal of out-of-favour Draught Bass and that such a deliberate manoeuvre merely puts them into a treadmill.

The fashion market is out of Bass' control - witness the sudden collapse of the alcopop market, cynically manipulated by Bass with Hooper's Hooch. Of course Bass were clever spotting the fashion first to massage that year's financial results. But once on such a treadmill, Bass became increasingly reactive to the whims not only of the analysts but also of that part of the market it has helped shift away from the more traditional pub experience. They became prisoners of their own marketing, out of touch with the long-term realities of quality products in community pubs.

Please think about the big brewers' concerns for traditional drinkers.
As consumers please vote with your purchases accordingly.

[Follow-up: ALE 26th Cambridge Beer Festival No. 295 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA