Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What about the packaging for crisps?

Given the daily lunacy on its editorial page, it's just as well that there are other parts of the Wall Street Journal actually worth reading. Wednesday's paper reports (subs. req'd) on the trend in English pubs towards matching beer with glasses, with gimmicks galore:

LONDON -- At the crammed Pavilion End pub here one recent Friday evening, an order for a pint of Foster's Australian lager sent the bartender diving behind the bar. Before pouring, he first had to find a straight-sided Foster's glass with its embossed map of Australia.

British pubs have long been known for serving lager or bitter in all-purpose pint glasses whose only adornment was a government stamp attesting to the fact that they held exactly 20 fluid ounces. Now, in order to boost beer sales, pubs are swapping that iconic glassware in favor of specially shaped glasses with unusual features. Among the new frills is the "nucleator," a laser-etched "S" on the inside of a Stella Artois glass that creates a steady stream of bubbles after the Belgian lager is poured from the tap ...

On the InBev curriculum for pubs that stock its Hoegaarden brand: the beer must always be served in its hefty, sculpted jar, at a temperature of 3 to 5 degrees centigrade. When pouring, servers should hold the glass so high that the tap touches the glass's inside ridge, a feature InBev designed to make the beer foam on top. Servers should also be able to explain that the wheat beer's ingredients contribute to its cloudy appearance.

To make sure bartenders take the time to learn those details, InBev offers incentives. About every two months, the company sends an incognito quality tester to each U.K. pub that stocks its wares, says Duncan Marsden, national accounts director for InBev U.K. The tester asks servers questions such as, "Why does Hoegaarden come in such a strange glass?" and "Why is it so expensive?" If the responses are deemed adequate, the server and the pub can receive a prize on the spot.

Now for the insertion of Guinness snark: any chance Diageo -- having led the way for the "nucleator" with Surger -- could get a similar program going on the pulling of a pint of the black stuff? But don't worry about the fancy glassware.

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