If it quacks, part deux

Mr. Lipa’s invocation of HORAL is one fat, quacking canard if ever there was one. I almost feel bad bringing it down. But a man’s gotta shoot what a man’s gotta shoot. Quick and painless:HORAL is an informal association of lambic brewers whose primary mission is to protect traditional brewing from the usual regulatory trigger-happiness of the European Union. To belong to HORAL, a brewer only has to be brewing at least a little bit of lambic, which is an even lower bar to hurdle than it sounds, since there really are no standards defining lambic. Basically, a member of HORAL has to produce something in which spontaneous fermentation is a part of the process. Since the association includes the some of the biggest industrial producers in the world, such as Bellevue (part of InBev), as well as tiny part-time, one-man operations like De Cam, it is a classic example of what Republicans call a ‘big tent.’

Not surprisingly, it is hard to find anything on which all the members of HORAL concur. The one big accomplishment is an informal agreement that the members will only use the designation ‘Oude’ (‘Old,’ in Flemish) on the labels for products that are considered to be ‘traditional lambic’ beers — that is, products that are made of 100% spontaneously fermented lambic beer, unsweetened, without artificial flavors, and unpasteurized.

One question for Joe Lipa. If Lindemans, an important member of HORAL, does not put that word ‘Oude’ on any of its beers, is it right to describe them as ‘traditional lambics?’

O.K., two down.

It is hard to understand how Joe Lipa thinks we can ‘work together’ to sell lambic beers, broadly speaking, to the public. Ours are more expensive than his, and these little breweries we are working with have no money for marketing. If we can’t convey to consumers that ours are qualitatively different, and better, why would they ever buy ours? One thing we thought of was to refer to the ones we are selling as ‘traditionally made,’ according to the HORAL standards, but that doesn’t do us much good if the more industrial producers want to hijack that word ‘traditional’ to sell their products here. What’s left for us? Should we call ours ‘super-traditional?’ It just doesn’t have that ring . . .

But if Joe Lipa is really serious about working together to build a market for craft beers in the U.S., I just have to ask: Mr. Lipa, we’re tying to sell this sour ‘traditional’ lambic beer, and, well, we could really use a loan . . .

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