Less love from We Love Real Beer

WLRB II

Life's too short for bad beer

Yesterday saw a volley of emails being sent between a number of people involved in the microbrewery industry in the Cape. Questions were being asked of We Love Real Beer, and in the end we were informed that the organisation as we know it will cease to exist from November 2011.

We Love Real Beer was set up by Brad Armitage and Shaun Bond and run together with Jack Black and & Union as an umbrella organisation which would bring microbreweries and craft beer together and use tactical marketing and festivals as a means of increasing exposure in the market. It worked very well and it was great to be a part of 2 of the 3 festivals held under this banner.

World Focus

They look so good cos they drink so good

But We Love Real Beer is not an association – it didn’t represent brewers or their interests and this is where some of the confusion and unhappiness felt by breweries probably came from.

We Love Real Beer offered membership to those in the beer business, and this entitled them to free entry to 2 festivals per year, lots of marketing under the We Love Real Beer banner. But some felt that it included certain beer brands more than others in offering opportunities to appear at events and this is where unhappiness arose.

WLRB CBC

A bunch of beerists

Brad informed us yesterday that & Union would be focusing on their own brand going forward, but that there would still be We Love Real Beer festivals in the future. As a brand and not as an umbrella organisation.

So although the public will still be able to enjoy an awesome festival at which all the smaller breweries can be enjoyed, We Love Real Beer will no longer offer memberships and the perks that came with this.

I know that there is a We Love Real Beer stand at the Food Wine and Design Show in Johannesburg this weekend, and that & Union and Darling Brewery are represented there, but yesterday we were told that all memberships ended in September, so is it really a We Love Real Beer event?

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4 Comments

Filed under Beer Office, Breweries, Festivals

4 responses to “Less love from We Love Real Beer

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  3. Rouvanne

    Thanks so much for your response Shaun. It’s good to get clarity from the WLRB side, though I have to say I don’t agree with all your points.

    Regarding your resignation, I suppose it was carefully enough worded to keep it open ended, though when I first read it I was under the impression that you had resigned “guys, as discussed with brad & ross, I will no longer be able to spend time promoting any breweries through WLRB. to date it has cost me money being involved. once we have a clearer direction as to where WLRB is going & how it will be handled, I will be watching & wishing everyone all the best.”

    Being involved in craft beer costs us all money and it is the passion for this industry that drives us. I don’t know one brewery who has made “bucket-loads” of cash at any single event, never mind WLRB events, and we ourselves continue to do events on behalf of importers and breweries for free to pay off accounts where events have actually cost us during the winter months. But we continue.

    With regards to the Food Wine & Design show, Camelthorn was present last year (not under the WLRB banner) and as we had about R7000 stock stolen, we were in the process of negotiating a fee that included the compensation offered by the festival. They agreed to give us our stand fee for free this year. But then we were informed that WLRB was going to have a stand and that a 30 % commission would be paid in lieu of fees – even though we were never included in correspondence and this nullified our own agreement with the festival. So having already lost R7000, plus having to pay 30% commission meant that Inge, through TBGSA Gauteng, would have had to pay in to attend this event. We also have no record of Flare Beverages/Beverage Emporium, Camelthorn or TBGSA as representatives of both (paid members) being invited to be a part of the event. If you have a mail to show us, I would be interested to see it.

    Having been in events and artist management for 15 years we understand that it is often a thankless job, but we derive satisfaction from seeing customers reactions when they discover a new beer for the first time. If you were in it to have your trumpet blown then I understand your disappointment.

    With regards to your anonymous member who claims that everyone is filling their pockets at events, were they at the last event in September? The venue was over-crowded and sales were down a third on the March event (I understood that at the 1st event people couldn’t get in because of the queue). Marketing was minimal after the excellent job done prior to the 2nd event and we weren’t even sure it was going to happen until we mailed WLRB 1 week before the event after which correspondence started going out.

    I understand that the R5000 membership fee (x15) doesn’t go very far, but it does change a little when one considers that there were on average 2500 people per event, who each paid R50 to get in (lets make it 50 x 2000 x 3 = 300 000) minus the costs of rental, tables, staff, merchandise, etc, you should’ve insisted that you be paid a small retainer so that you wouldn’t feel so hard done by now. I’m sure members would appreciate and have better understanding how the WLRB works if there was an open and transparent set of accounts.

    We have thoroughly enjoyed both WLRB events we have been a part of, and I think added to the character of the event with a great range of beers. In support of the event, like all the breweries who paid the membership fees, we also promoted and marketed the events to death to ensure that everyone enjoyed some measure of success and with the hope that numbers would increase at future events (at which we look forward to being invited in future).

    We will continue to support real, craft beer and breweries in South Africa (as I am sure you will too), and will also continue to speak openly about what is happening in the industry and that includes letting people know when the big boys are muscling out the little guys and when the little guys are trying to fill big boy shoes.

    We will be closing comments on this post as it was not meant to be a war of words. Many thanks

  4. this will be the only response that I will post with regards to the ‘end of WE LOVE REAL BEER’.
    you say that I have resigned, from a position that does not offer a fee or payment for time dedicated to making the micro breweries money? can one resign from such a disposition? I was not aware that I sent you a resignation letter. could you please send it back, as we would all like to see this.
    what I did say is that I will no longer be the one person that breaks his back to get a country to drink craft. once this issue has been sorted, we can re-look the situation & assess from there. who know’s, maybe I might get more than a thanks, (I did notice yours Rouvanne. I suppose a late thanks is better than never).

    the question or accusation that the WLRB organization is brand focused or aligned to a few, & Union, JackBlack and Darling Brew, is completely ridiculous. as an example of this & if I recall correctly, it was Inge/The Beer Garden & Hanno that pulled CamelThorn from the JHB Food Wine & Design the day I was setting the stand up. just so you know, with emails to prove it, the bar was hired, at a cost to WLRB & setup, at a cost to WLRB, to include Darling, & Union, JackBlack & yup, you guessed it, Camelthorn, through the Beer Garden. upon the Beer Gardens request, I was asked to include Everson’s Cider, to which I emphatically replied yes. all under the WLRB name. (I was then asked if the Beer Garden could include the wine they distribute, at a Wanted & We Love Real Beer Gardens event. key words – Real Beer).
    the Food Wine & Design guys – specifically asked for Darling Beer, JackBlack Beer, & Union & Camelthorn to be present. I suggested Mitchell’s, as they shared a stand at the WLRB fest last year – at no cost. the FW&D guys said yeas & an invite was sent out to all.
    at the end of the day – a free FW&D stand was offered to WLRB members where there was a commission to be paid. the commission was too high for some & so you pulled out leaving me with a 6m stand & two micro beers to sell – and sell they did. like hot cakes. FW&D can be complimented on a fantastic event.

    the above is a prime example of how things have been going all year.
    I have tried & tried to get as many micro breweries, (that have paid their membership), to as many events. big or small. dealing with micro breweries is a tiring, thankless task.
    I realise times are tough & there may not be cash around, & any cash that is made goes back into furthering craft. (like the mountains of cash made by the 15 odd brewers at the 3 WLRB festivals).
    having said the above – let me tell you, the ones that didn’t or haven’t done it, a simple thank you, will suffice in my eyes.

    to end off – here’s a great quote from a mail I received today, from one of the WLRB members who will remain annonomous, & to that member – THANK YOU for the mail.
    “Politics. When everyone is filling their pockets at the WLRB events no one says a thing (not even thanks!) but as soon as things are not going their way everyone has a lot to say.
    I had such a laugh when someone said they hoped that this JHB event wasn’t being done at WLRB expense!!! How far do people think a R5000 annual membership can be stretched?

    anyway – who knows what the future of WLRB holds.
    just glad to get the other side of the story out there.

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