Is Samuel Smith Too Corporate to be Good?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Brianhophead, Jan 13, 2013.

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  1. HarryPotHead

    HarryPotHead Aspirant (281) Aug 21, 2012 Maryland

    Funny, but I believe that even the so called "corporate" brewers can still brew good beer if they choose to. Comes down to ingredients, know how, commitment to quality, and pride in what they do. Sierra Nevada is "corporate" and their brews, while not "top shelf", are darn good....on the other side of the coin, the big three American brewers are more concerned about market share than taste. When you care more about how many people are drinking your beer than the beer itself the product will inevitably suffer.
  2. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Oh yes. And hardly a decent beer brewed in that old Heineken/John Smiths factory. But then I'm not sure if Sam Smiths beers are to their usual standards these days either. Rising costs and the retirement of Steve Berrett last year combined with a number of recent disappointing Sam Smiths bottles ( esp. the Imperial Stout) makes me wonder. And ironically, Heineken seems to be treating their ownership of the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh with a degree of respect I did not expect.
  3. Treyliff

    Treyliff Poo-Bah (3,225) Aug 10, 2010 West Virginia
    Beer Trader

    95% of the time, the size of the brewery compared to how small they used to be has zero effect on the tast and quality of the product. I think some of you have convinced yourselves of the opposite. "If its not rare, it doesn't taste as good!"

    Sam Smiths still makes some damn good beers. Their RIS is still one if my favorites to date.
    jmw and jrbchef like this.
  4. jrbchef

    jrbchef Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2011 Connecticut

    There are some big brewer's that make great beer and some small ones that make crap. Judge the beer on it's merit not on the size of there mash tun or how clever they name there brews.
    kelvarnsen and puboflyons like this.
  5. Thirstygoat

    Thirstygoat Defender (616) Nov 22, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Back in the early 1980's when the good beer pickings were slim I often sessioned Samuel Smith Pale Ale. Recently I was wowed by my first taste of their Stingo (better than Boulevard's.) In between I've enjoyed their Brown Ale and Imperial Stout among others. Consistent product reasonably easy to find, what's not to like?
  6. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (580) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Industry Beer Trader

    Sam Smith's is too corporate? This reminds of a few weeks back and I was working at the bar, I had to convince someone that Sierra Nevada's beers were still worth drinking because he had "heard they weren't as good anymore" since they had gotten so popular. Sometimes us beer geeks have a hard time accepting a good thing...
    JxExM and jrbchef like this.
  7. Aml42000

    Aml42000 Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2011 Washington

    I'm sorry, but this is silly.
    fox227 likes this.
  8. Brianhophead

    Brianhophead Initiate (64) May 16, 2007 Alberta (Canada)

    Tell us what's so silly?
  9. NWer

    NWer Crusader (715) Mar 10, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    I just got bummed out reading all this. I'm sure my two Stingo I have stashed away are infected with corporate and they're now a drain pour.
    FriarTuckInLuck likes this.
  10. MCDuhamel

    MCDuhamel Initiate (0) Dec 18, 2005 Ohio

    Beer is good if it is good and not good if it isn't. Whether the beer was made in someone's backyard or by an enormous multinational is irrelevant.
    jrbchef likes this.
  11. bramsdell

    bramsdell Aspirant (278) May 27, 2011 North Carolina

    You can't taste corporate. I agree, this is silly. Do they make tasty beer? Do you have anything opposition to their business practices? This is so much worse than the GI debate. Sierra Nevada is significantly larger than Samuel Smith and there's nothing wrong with them. If Hill Farmstead suddenly producing at the scale of Samuel Smith, would your brother take issue with them, too?
  12. WhatANicePub

    WhatANicePub Initiate (183) Jul 1, 2009 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    In the UK quite a few people do have issues with them:

    Or rather, they have issues with the allegedly capricious, bullying and whimsical management style of Humphrey Smith.
    jazzyjeff13 likes this.
  13. bulletrain76

    bulletrain76 Zealot (579) Nov 6, 2007 California

    Too stale and generally bland and boring to be good is more like it. Never had a beer form them that was worth drinking again. If you're looking for a yardstick for more traditional English beers available in North America, Fullers beats them in every category, and a brewery local to you probably makes at least one of those styles better and in much better condition. I have no idea why people drink Sam Smiths over here, especially with how big of a dick the owner is.
  14. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    If I have to wear a tie to drink it, then forget it.
    FriarTuckInLuck likes this.
  15. antilite

    antilite Initiate (158) Jan 1, 2012 Florida

    Yogi Berra once said of a popular restaurant:
    "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
    MusicaleMike and afrokaze like this.
  16. Svendozen

    Svendozen Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2012 New Hampshire

    Let's not forget that a brewery doesn't get big unless they make a beer we love. I think this is the equivalent of people not liking bands anymore because they've "sold out". Laughable! Somehow because they successfully made something of themselves that makes us less cool for liking them. If you like them. If you don't...don't. If I'm out to lunch with my craft brew buddies am I going to feel guilty about drinking an ice cold Blue Moon with a slice of orange? Not a fucken chance.
  17. chocosushi

    chocosushi Initiate (0) May 1, 2011 Oklahoma

  18. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,229) Mar 18, 2010 California

    I have a feeling a good number of us (American) BAs have no idea of the workings of Samuel Smith.
    chinabeergeek and afrokaze like this.
  19. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Meyvn (1,048) Dec 11, 2006 California
    Supporter Beer Trader

    All I know is that I have three Samuel Smith Lagers in my fridge that taste like complete shit :slight_frown: I've liked other things though :wink:
  20. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Sam Smith's is a very small independent family owned brewery. To call it "corporate" would require the word to be redefined but that's been done here before by BAs :slight_smile:
    jmw and steveh like this.
  21. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,272) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    most UK'ers here will likely tell you they are middle of the pack in terms of quality. better than average, maybe, but not the gold standard by which british beer should be judged. as to whether they are "corporate" or not (and whether this is good or bad) is another matter entirely.
  22. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,291) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Perhaps the idea that a beer that is so easily available, and can be so easily put into a glass, and so easily tasted, and an opinion about that taste so easily made, could possibly require someone to ask if it is too corporate for its own good. Does the beer taste good? Does it not taste good? Why would anyone need someone else to answer this question, as the answer can only be gotten by oneself anyway. I am guessing that is what is so silly, but what do I know?
  23. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,306) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    How small is it, Marquis? I can never find a good list of the yearly barrelage of UK breweries but I note that their brands seldom appear in UK industry publications like the UK Beer Report. My impression is that their US imports make them appear larger to US drinkers than they are at home, and those imports are probably a significant portion of their total sales.

    Smith's popularity in the US can probably be traced to being first imported right around the time of the start of the US "beer awakening" in the late '70's-early '80's by Merchant du Vin, the owner of which, Charles Finkel, had personal connections with Michael Jackson, who was obviously a fan of the brewery, as well. Before Smith's, the UK brands on US shelves was limited to primarily the Whitbread, Bass, Watney and Courage brands (yeah, they even shipped us Red Barrel!).

    As such, Samuel Smith beers are often a "gateway" non-lager import for many in the US - as you've seen over the years in numerous posts like this on BeerAdvocate.
  24. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    I don't know but they say that the other brewery in Tadcaster brews about 20 times as much as they do!
    A quick Wiki check on John Smiths (the "other" brewery in Tadcaster) stated their output at 4 million hectolitres which is roughly 2 1/2 million barrels.
    Back of an envelope calculation (actually used Google!) suggests Sam Smith's output to be around 130 000 barrels a year. I wouldn't want to have to drink it all, but it's about the size of a small regional brewery. Certainly not a mega brewery :slight_smile:
  25. kingofhop

    kingofhop Initiate (0) May 9, 2010 Oklahoma

    Samuel Smith makes good beer for those of us that don't have access to a proper pint in Liverpool. I like their offerings. It ain't Fuller's 1845, but what is?
  26. Runninmixz

    Runninmixz Initiate (104) Sep 22, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I make it a point to grab anything from Sam Smith that I haven't tried before. In some instances I use their beer's to judge all other versions from other breweries. Examples: Sam Smith: Raspberry, Cherry, Chocolate stout, and Imperial stout are my "yardstick" for measuring when I try others. One of my absolute favorite beers is Yorkshire Stingo 2008.
  27. nc41

    nc41 Meyvn (1,494) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Too corporate? I don't understand this in this case, but corporate would mean putting product quality 2nd behind over all profits, and using cheaper materials to lower the cost.
  28. jimlapaglia

    jimlapaglia Initiate (115) Jan 1, 2009 New York

    Well that's what I like about BA, differing viewpoints. You touch on the availability issue (Bass, Sam Smith's Newcastle).Truthfully I
    Well that's what I like about BA, differing viewpoints. You touch on the availability of British beer. Sometimes it seems that Bass, Newcastle and Sam Smiths are the only beers available from the UK. And that I see more mentions of UK beer on televised premier league matches in a month than I do on this forum in a year.
    Perhaps it's just a matter of perception. Most of the members here (and myself as well admittedly) seem to prefer the high alcohol seem to prefer the classic American micro brewed flavor bomb. This flies in the face of the perceived British approach of seesionable ales.

    That said being a beer slut I would appreciate any information on the beers of the UK you would be willing to provide. Kernel huh?
  29. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,272) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    the simple, sad fact is that the great bulk of the best of the UK is only available on cask. firkins rarely get exported because of the deposit and the fact that the overwhelming majority of venues in the US simply don't know how to properly cellar and maintain real cask ale. all this combines into a vicious feedback loop.
    herrburgess likes this.
  30. pressedmeat

    pressedmeat Initiate (141) Jan 7, 2013 New Jersey

    I just had their Winter Welcome this past weekend, and it thought was pretty tasty. So if that's the price of being too Corporate, so be it.
  31. mtalley999

    mtalley999 Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2011 Maryland

    I'm starting to wonder why the word "profit" when it comes to the intention of a brewery seems to be a dirty word around here.

    Sorry if I hijacked the thread OP, not my intention, and I know those were your brothers words not yours. I'm just genuinely confused by this idea.
  32. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,972) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Sure, but doesn't good quality lead to better profits? (Yeah, I know -- as long as your client base is well-informed and has a better understanding of what "good quality" ought to be, but you understand...)
  33. ao125

    ao125 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2010 Virginia

    It's a known fact that "being corporate" creates off-flavors in beer.

    Employee stock options are like lacto infections, while boards of directors decrease carbonation and add light skunking. Let's not even get into what having too many senior VP's will do to color and head retention.
  34. Derranged

    Derranged Devotee (479) Mar 7, 2010 New York

    The only beer Ive had from them that I didnt like was their IPA but I think it was simply a bad bottle as it was very metalic.
  35. TheChosenOne

    TheChosenOne Initiate (117) Sep 5, 2012 North Carolina

    Nope. Their beers are very good.
    Love the nut brown ale and the oatmeal stout.
  36. HoptimusMax1mus

    HoptimusMax1mus Disciple (305) Jul 10, 2012 Arizona

    So its a crime to make beer and expect to make money from it? No. I like their beer...
  37. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Making a profit today is the reason why you can brew tomorrow.
  38. oregone

    oregone Disciple (357) Jul 2, 2008 Oregon

    That was an interesting forum read. 80+% of their management claim to make less than minimum wage? Yowza. Even taken with a grain of salt, that implies widespread mistreatment and underpayment.
    I will have to read some more, but being former industry, this will definitely make me think hard before purchasing again.

    And on topic, I do like most of their beer. Except that whole 'fruit thing' they started doing. I always thought that while smart for growing revenue, it muddled the brand image. Reliable freshness and storage concernis are an issue as others have mentioned though.
  39. RoninTK3

    RoninTK3 Aspirant (234) Nov 12, 2012 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    Samuel Smith makes excellent beers at a very reasonable price. That's all that really matters to me.
    HoptimusMax1mus likes this.
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