Why Craft Beer is a Scam

Phil Patterson
4 min readDec 17, 2020


Pyramid schemes, Nigerian princes, timeshares and craft beer.

This is a list of industrial scams that I am acutely aware of.

Of that list, unsurprisingly, the most palatable and inoffensive is your local IPA.

It may not hurt quite as much as the fatal disappointment I suffered, aged 13, when realising that Prince Kwame of Lagos had not really bequeathed me the $400,000,000 he had promised in his kind email…but it is still a real annoyance.

There are many artisan industries that I could choose to aim at — but I have elected to aim fire at the craft breweries because I just hate them.

I hate the stupid names. “Heineken”, “Harp” are quaint antique names of the past seemingly; now, it has to be quirky nonsense or it is not drinkable.

“Whistlers Ballbag” or “Candid Antelope” is now the order of the day. I’m never quite sure if these names are coded Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy type references or characters in a game of Cluedo — but they certainly sell, now.

I hate the way they attempt to hoodwink the discerning boozer into thinking that the tepid, fizzy liquid actually has tasting notes. My brother sent me some cans of “Poachers Asshole” for my Birthday recently and the tasting notes referred to Gooseberry, Cedar and Hibiscus Jam.

Well played, Mr Poacher. I wouldn’t honestly know what Hibiscus Jam tastes like normally, let alone discern it in a can of lager. Even typing this fills me with rage — have we all lost our minds??

I would love, nay, crave, the opportunity to do a blindfold taste test with a couple of craft beer savants. Serve them up some of their beloved local IPA, in this case, “Pervert’s Buckle”, and intersperse it with faithful Pub stables like Heineken, Tennants and Coors.

Let them pick the difference. Let them also annunciate the tasting notes. If they start announcing that Tennants has highlights of glazed fig and parsnip veloute, then we know they are total bluffers, and we tar and feather them. If they can’t spot the difference at all, simple, they are publicly hanged.

Setting aside all that complete and utter pretentious drivel pertaining to be culture, we arrive at the dichotomy that lies at the heart of Craft Beer. Or indeed, craft anything…but as I said before, I am angry, and going after the beer crowd.

The word “craft” implies care and attention, images of a small pot of beer lovingly made in a cottage overlooking the sea. Most of all, it implies scarcity and a controlled supply.

My Nana used to make scones that were, I suppose, “craft scones”, but she wasn’t a fool and therefore they were just plain old scones.

Don’t be fooled by the term craft, though. These craft breweries are not modern-day Andrew Carnegie inspired philanthropic types. Their mission statement is not to enlighten and disrupt the world of brewing. These organisations have shareholders, like everyone else, and have a responsibility to make a profit.

With faced with a choice between a viable business and keeping beer snobs happy, the “craft” element rather goes out the window. Guffawing Hippo, for instance, may well have started off being in made in the flatshare kitchen of two friends. Fine, no problem. Somewhere along the way, however, the lads decided they wanted to make a bit of coin at this GH wheeze.

So, they hired marketers to paint a nice Hippo on the side of the cans. They partnered with a Hippo Sanctuary in Africa and post out a cuddly Hippo toy with all crates. Lovely stuff. They also quickly worked out that they couldn’t afford all the kit and lab space needed to brew their Budweiser knock-off at a profit-generating scale, and so, they outsourced their manufacturing to the same factory that makes Tesco Special Brew.

It was only ever “craft” for the first few weeks of their journey, and now, it’s just, well errr, beer in a fancy can. Which costs much more than a normal can.

If I could make any request to my fellow citizens in 2021, it is to stop fawning over craft beer. If you have ordered it in Wetherspoon’s, it is not craft. If it was genuinely “craft”, there would only be so many and therefore each can would be auctioned off in keeping with the principles of marginal utility. They would not be three bottles for a tenner.

The blackberry jam that you buy at your local farm shop probably Is craft, please (!!) buy that instead.



Phil Patterson

Founder of www.realcbdclub.com —Former VC and Startup Guy…I write for fun. About things I like, and some things I hate.