Over the weekend we had a Movember event here at our home. It wasn’t an official Horse & Dragon thang, but, happily, a lot of craft beer lovers came by. Movember, for those of you wanting to find out more, is a movement begun in Australia to raise awareness about and funds for prostate & testicular cancer research and men’s mental health issues and treatment. As an outward sign of being part of this movement, some men form teams, shave their faces clean on November 1, and grow moustaches throughout the month. Others, as we discovered, are passionately attached to their ‘staches (some of which have been growing since the 70’s or 80’s) and are afraid to attend an event where a razor might be present.
I did an abysmal job of photo-documenting this event. For e.g., no photos of the 4 men who asked beforehand if they would be required to shave at the party. [Answer: no, and we think your current facial hair is magnificent, of course!] Nor any of the Movember team TimCo is on. Nor even of our party game/market research attempt to compare canned vs. bottled craft beer in a blind taste test, which was set up in our overcrowded garage and would have made for some great pix as our awesome servers navigated the maze out there. Ouch! I can only plead distraction by virtue of guests’ convo topics being too interesting. Dumb it down, people! We have pictures to take!
The week started with double this amount of ginger for making dinner for folks who came, so you know it was going to end well.
For the can v bottle taste-test, we bought 5 different types of beer that is sold in both of those packages (marketed as the same product; presumably the same recipe or close to it). We had a team of awesome 21+-somethings pouring shotglasses of each type and offering them around for side-by-side taste testing. And we had folks fill out a response sheet as to which they preferred of each style of beer.
The results of our snapshot, small-sample-size survey are: people prefer bottles. Or they prefer cans. It doesn’t correlate with their age group or gender. 2 beers showed a swing toward one or the other – an IPA skewed toward cans, a chocolate stout toward bottle (but this was tainted by the fact that we unknowingly bought a widget can for the chocolate stout – “reading is hard!”). The other 3 showed an almost even split between those who thought beer tasted better out of the can vs. those who preferred the bottled beer.
The missing piece in our survey was asking what people thought they preferred. Because really, as anyone who’s ever tried to pin down what motivates the social animal has discovered already, there’s no hard and fast rule for predicting how people are going to behave. What we think would be a logical choice is obscured by so many confounding factors in social science that we cannot predict a given person’s behavior or selection. I think it’s safe to say that in a situation like this and given a choice, people will choose what they think is better – not necessarily what is better by some objective – or semi-objective -- measure. Their taste buds might tell them craft beer is tastier, or fresher, or more pleasing to all their senses when poured from a can, but when it comes right down to it and they’re standing in the liquor store aisle surveying the awesome array of tasty craft beer in front of them, they’ll reach for a bottle because they still believe bottled beer is better. Or perhaps the reverse. Changing those beliefs would take a lot more than one taste-testing (particularly if the results of that taste-testing are 50/50!).
The happy upshot, if we choose to base the decision on this tiny survey, is: consumer preference doesn’t yet dictate whether new breweries should bottle or can. Craft beer tastes great out of either package, particularly if you have awesome people with whom to share it. So gather some friends, people, and crack open a bottle. Or a can.
[**I still vote for the wonderful reusable growler and legalizing satellite locations to fill them. C’mon, Colorado!]
For anyone who participated or who is interested in specific results, here are some (below).
Favorite comments from the survey:
On the “new to beer à Total Beer Geek” scale, someone gave herself a “1” and added, “but old to beer.” Ripe for conversion!
A fellow who, I happen to know, brews quite amazing beer in his own brewery nearby (and brought several growlers to the fiesta, hooray), who rated himself a 6/7 on that same scale. If he’s not a 7, who are we waiting for, Randy Mosher & Michael Jackson? Love the humility, though!
A couple that filled out one form and explained O’s were for her, X’s for him. They agreed on preference for 2 of the 5 beers. Sounds like the recipe for a great relationship – agree on some things, but keep your own opinions, too. And, of course, drink craft beer together.
(NB: The total samples for each type of beer differs because we removed the people who noted “no preference” on any given beer.)
Avery White Rascal (Belgian White) – 24 bottles, 25 cans
Breckendridge Avalanche (American Amber) – 19 bottles, 24 cans
Avery India Pale Ale (American IPA) – 23 bottles, 25 cans
Sierra Nevada Torpedo (American IPA) – 17 bottles, 27 cans
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (Chocolate Stout) – 32 bottles, 20 cans
The following numbers indicate total # of samples (not # of people or beers). [Yes, I realize the results for what people thought they would prefer would be a lot more interesting here than how they rated in the taste-test! Next time….]
“Newbies” (self-rated 1-3) vs. “Beer Geeks” (self-rated 4-7)
Newbies’ preference: 13 bottles, 13 cans
Beer Geeks’ preference: 104 bottles, 108 cans
Female vs. Male:
Females: 52 bottles, 53 cans
Males: 65 bottles, 68 cans
20’s – 42 bottles, 58 cans
30’s – 42 bottles: 34 cans
40’s – 16 bottles: 11 cans
50’s+ -- 17 bottles, 18 cans