When you have had Cornish butter even just once you never forget it. When we came back off holiday from Cornwall my wife and I vowed to try to only buy “proper” butter in the future. A real challenge when you live in Lancashire. The only way we found it would be possible was to have a friend in Cornwall posting it back to you! (Which we didn’t have.) Crazy! No mail order for butter anywhere. This surprised me. Its a commodity. Everyone uses it every day. But nobody sees it as such a crucial part of their lives for which they demand quality.
My view is the category has been in the hands of mega companies for far too long. Dairy brands like Arla “churn” out a terrible product and before you know it everyone has forgotten how good butter CAN taste.
I don’t know what makes the Cornish butter tastes so damn good – it must be all that countryside hey! Why can’t we get that kind of butter in Lancashire? Don’t we have lots of countryside? Well it might seem we don’t have the right kind of countryside? (lol) I am no expert on butter so I am a pretty good viewpoint for a comparison to beer as a layman. I don’t know that much about churning. But I know proper Cornish and French butter tastes great. So is it the way they make it or is it the way other mass producers bastardise butter? Either way I know what I would prefer.
Quality. It’s as slippery as mercury. Everyone would like to rate their products as quality but for most it slips straight through their fingers. To make a quality product is a life-long quest. Even if you strike quality early paradoxically the pressures upon you to compromise start sooner as you try to grow. It rarely comes easy. And it is all too easy to fall into the grip of accountants and non-believer-investors who look at the £ signs more than the end gratification of the consumer. Its almost impossible to have a BIG business delivering the quality that is delivered by a small craft business.
To make a quality product is no less than a crusade. Every ounce of graft that is needed to drag your product up and apart from the normal average standard is painful. But more painful than the effort involved to maintain quality is the insulting attempted degradation of your quality by wannabe purchasers who would like to achieve a discount on a quality product and deny the producer a premium. A rightful premium, for a product that stands out. A product that always satisfies. A product built on values and without economical compromise. There is no way round it – you have to pay the full price for artisan produce.
Regularly, I am asked to supply my beer at the same price that other brewers supply at. When I say ‘other’ brewers I mean ‘BIG’ brewers. Brewers who will make 100 firkins or more in a day using highly automated equipment and using ingredients “agreed by the board” (and the accountant). When I do a day’s brewing the day’s result is ten proud insignificant firkins, made with great attention to quality at every stage, with no compromise to process or cost of ingredient. If I want to brew it I do. If I choose to throw in expensive ingredients for flavour I do. And at the end of it, when it goes for sale, like any chef, I add all the ingredients up and all the labour and I calculate the cost and the price. Fairly.
I am not a charity. I don’t expect any favours. My brewery lives or dies like any creative food experience upon whether what is made is worthy of the price tag. I am thankful that since starting commercially four years ago my customers have agreed with me that the beer is a step above others. I have never had stock that needed a fire sale. The brand is not well known but those who drink Rammy Craft always drink more. I am eternally thankful to those drinkers for their support. I will continue to not compromise quality for a marketable price.
To reiterate – I have never discounted cask beer to get a sale. My price is my price. Please don’t ask for discounts. Its one thing for the beer to not be worthy of the price. If that is ever felt then please call me. But to try to obtain a quality product at a price less than all our loyal customers are paying….? Nah. That is not the way I do business. It is my aim to produce beer that is above most others. It warrants a higher price at the pump. And it costs more when it is delivered. Not because I am making on it….but because it takes so much effort to make this particular, custom fashioned small batch beer, using the best malt in England and normally lots of the right hops. Time will tell if the ultimate consumer will continue to pay more for my reliable more flavoursome pint. For there is no justification for higher costs in business if the effort is not seen of value by the end customer.
A 2.5bbl stand alone brewery is on paper uneconomical and unviable. I have proven that it is possible to make it work without a brewery tap. I am fortunate to have found enough customers who value the rarity value and quality of the Rammy Craft product. Thank you! For now, I will persevere in this lowly brewery and resist the squeeze from those who might not yet fully understand the £’s and pence of an exceptionally rare small artisan/craft brewery enterprise.
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