Made for Uncommon Thirsts

ABOUT US

Outlier Cartel started a few years ago at flat warming party in Auckland in 2010. Carlos and his flatmates had invited everyone in the building to come and join their friends. However, only a couple of the neighbours showed up, Mark and Barbara from down the hall. Although they didn’t know it at the time, the seeds of good beer company were planted. Mark and Carlos, both ‘Outliers’ in spirit, thought there was much missing from the established New Zealand beer industry.

After a few years of experimenting and planning, Carlos and Mark took the plunge and created Outlier Cartel. The idea was to create interesting beers that would challenge the idea of what good beers could be. More importantly, it simply had to taste good.

Though there were some trials along the way, on the 4th of December, 2015 Outlier Cartel officially launched, welcoming all on the fringe to enjoy great beverages!

In early 2016, we welcomed the addition of the 3rd Cartelian in Alvin Soh.  Alvin is a foodie, devoted husband and proud father of two three.  Alvin is our Director and Chief Financial Officer – or as we like to call him, our ‘Supreme Chancellor of Numeric Confidence‘. He has been vital for our business planning and growth.

So what’s in the name?

We’ve gotten quite a few comments about our name. The name came about from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, a book that we strongly identified with.  The book demonstrates success as not based on what people are like, but where people are from such as the cultures that influenced them, upbringing, and family. Both of us were fortunate enough to migrate to New Zealand quite a few years ago, fusing our own experiences with a kiwi can-do attitude.

Cartel was decided because of the desire to go beyond just ‘beer’ – we love food and drink, so we wanted to think beyond just ‘beer’ or ‘brewery’. Cartel also represents a collaboration with like minded people, we don’t perceive other brewers as a threat; rather we see them as partners in our industry to bring the best products possible to consumers.

So we welcome everyone to be part of the Outlier Cartel!

Our Thousand Year Vision

Our vision is that Outlier Cartel to be a thousand year business. To us, this means growing sustainably, being true to ourselves and bringing a bit of good to the world. We believe that John Wesley best stated our core beliefs:

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Did you know that 14% percent of all the companies over a thousand years old have been breweries? If we extend that list to beverage makers (Sake, Wine, Tea and Distilleries), then that list extends to 35% of all thousand year companies.  So even though we are small potatoes at the moment, we are in the right industry to be a Thousand Year business.

So here is a hearty toast to you, your children and your ultra great grand children – may you all live a good life and drink well!

Alvin, Mark & Carlos – your friends at Outlier Cartel

Our Beer Styles

Our Approach To Beer

At Outlier Cartel we are agnostic toward beer styles. We believe that every style, whether its popular or obscure has its own merits. We often blur the boundaries with our creations, sometimes making them very difficult to judge by ‘style’.

For example, our Cargo Cult is a hybrid beer. Its a kölsch, but instead of using traditional ingredients for the style, we used rice, because we happen to like Japanese rice lagers. A kölsch itself is cross between an ale and lager!

Yes, this may frustrate some drinkers who are keen to classify what they are drinking. We understand, after all its human nature to make sense of it all. For us, we are driven to create excellence in flavours rather to be true to style. We believe that beer is for everyone: from the seasoned sommelier to that person who just wants to unwind at the end of the day.

This is why we say we are made for uncommon tastes;  we know the range of palates varies significantly from person to person. So instead of being true to style, we ask ourselves an even more basic question: Does this taste good?

If you are still not sure what to try, here is an imperfect list of our offering to get you started:

Dark Beers: Poke the Bear, Apricity
Light Beers: Cargo Cult, From Such Great Heights
Spiced Beers: Apricity, Wunderkammer
Fruited Beers: Kerikeri ‘Round the Corner, From Such Great Heights
Lagers: Cargo Cult, Apricity
Ales: Cloudburst, Kekulé’s Dream, Kerikeri ‘Round the Corner, From Such Great Heights, Wunderkammer, Honey Chestnut
Sessionable Beers: Cargo Cult, From Such Great Heights
‘Big’ Beers: Apricity, Wunderkammer

From the Blog

Drink Less, Enjoy Life More – Everywhere but New Zealand.

Global trends show that alcohol consumption is declining.

The youth of Britain, Australia, Iceland are drinking less, and even the stalwart drinking Russians are laying off the tipple. New Zealand is bucking this trend, both the younger demographic and older demographic are prone to hazardous drinking.

Why is the global trend declining yet New Zealand falling behind? And what does this mean for your independent brewers?

In spite of the trend in New Zealand, we think the global trend is a good thing for independent brewers, here’s why:

Respect the drink.

For individuals, alcohol binging to the point of becoming a danger to yourself or others is not respecting the drink. No one needs a sermon on blackouts, hangovers and walks of shame – most are familiar with the harsh byproducts of excessive consumption.

Today it is surprising (and refreshing) to see that the binge drinking culture of Britain has drastically declined. In 2016, 35% of Britons considered themselves non-drinkers, up from 12% in 2001. Xenia Clegg Littler, a young actress from London, reflects on her disinterest in drinking alcohol:

“I’d rather wake up in the morning and get on with my day and achieve what I want to achieve than wake up with a massive hangover, I need to have control over where I am, and what I do.”

For Alcohol producers, respecting the drink means making the highest quality product possible. Inversely, it means not mass producing alcohol and selling it cheaply. The Americans, say what you will about them, are again setting the example. In order to sustain the quality and become sustainable, US beer can charge more, and consumers are just fine with this.  In contrast, their has been a dramatic increase in alcohol-free beer in the UK. This in part to both better health choices by millennials and a higher mark up for stronger beers.

In New Zealand, most alcohol has become cheaper since 2012. This is an odd turn around as reflected in New Zealand Beer Wikipedia page:

With a growth rate of 25% per year, Craft beer and microbreweries were blamed for a 15 million litre drop in alcohol sales overall in 2012, with Kiwis opting for higher-priced premium beers over cheaper brands.

Blame‘ is an interesting choice of words. Currently alcohol sales are booming in New Zealand, and it coinciding with the price drop in alcohol. Who or what is behind the price drop and what effect will it have on New Zealand?

Keep it honest.

Children’s novelist Spencer Johnson is quoted for “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” Is the New Zealand Brewer’s Association being transparent with consumers?

  • Truth in advertising. First of all, beer is not the beautiful truth. The Brewer’s Association promotion of beer as a health drink is wildly dishonest.
  • Who’s your daddy? It is essential knowing where your beer comes from. White Labeling and its variants can be used deception marketing. This happens in two ways. The first way is by creating ‘premium’ looking brand and marking up a cheap product. Secondly, larger brewers can buy a local brewery, and use the former brewers reputation to sell flog massive amounts of beer. See our article on the illusion of choice.
  • Preying on the vulnerable – By producing cheap swill, it affects vulnerable population of New Zealand. From Ministry of Health‘s 2016/17 Health Survey:  adult drinkers in the most deprived areas were 1.7 times more likely to be hazardous drinkers than adult drinkers in the least deprived areas. In addition, Lion Australia, has been

There is a Scandinavian proverb that seems apt here: “Urinating in your trousers will not keep you warm in winter“, meaning a temporary solution won’t fix a long term problem. In this case, the problem is declining sales of poorly made beer. Their solution? Make it cheaper! The good news is that we’ve become smarter consumers. The article Twilight of the Brands demonstrates a relevant example of this. Consumers eventually caught on to Lululemons cheap products and the founder’s flippant remarks nearly dive-bombed his brand:

But then customers started complaining about pilling fabrics, bleeding dyes, and, most memorably, yoga pants so thin that they effectively became transparent when you bent over.  Lululemon’s founder made things worse by suggesting that some women were too fat to wear the company’s clothes.

Foundations built on dishonesty, lies and deception are a poor legacy to leave behind.

Enjoy the drink. 

Let’s face it – we love to drink! Sharing a drink celebrates passages in our life, and that is something ever brewer should endeavor to remember. We want our drinks to be part of those memories – whether its a wedding, a new job, your first child (or 3rd!). As craft brewers, its pure joy to create a product that can augment memorable moments in life.

We respect those who drink less or decide not drink at all. Regardless of your choice, it becomes our privilege to share our drinks with you.

 

 

Post Script:

In regards to enjoying your beverage – we created little meme generator with the help our friend Matej earlier in the year. We call it stories between the sips – as good beer is meant to be savoured, not skulled! We invite everyone to share their ‘meditations on a good pint’ here:

Our favourite so far by MusicalBeers:

 

Stories behind the sips

Let’s face it, the best ideas had are usually in the shower or after a sip. Unfortunately, showers aren’t terrible portable – and people aren’t always comfortable sharing ideas in the shower. That’s why beer is hands down the best idea generator!

When we first started planning what Outlier Cartel would be, we went down to our favourite Japanese joint in downtown Auckland, Genta. The first thing we would order was a tall, chilled mug of Orion beer. As we talked about our aspirations we noticed that inspiration would always come immediately after a sip of beer. And like a grand tree tells its life story through its rings, so did our tall mugs with its concentric lacing.

After every sip, a new story formed, and it was told right there in our glasses!

So with the help of some designers and a skilled programmer, we decided to create our own meme generator, “What’s your story between the sips?” Whether your thoughts are whimsical, serious, funny, obscure or just plain obvious – we would love to hear them! Click here to generate your own: https://outliercartel.com/your-sip-story/

stories between the sips

Your beer is bad and you should feel bad – dealing with unsavoury reviews

If you are an indy brewer, then you know how much sway that Untappd reviews have. It’s a superb way of getting feedback, especially if you do non-traditional, obscure or experimental brews. Though not everyone may not like your product, but it is a good way to gauge your product’s quality.

However, sometimes people are just dicks – and the worst of it can be amplified by alcohol fueled reviews! Handling these types of situations takes a lot of care; overtime we evolved a 3 pronged-approach to handling our reviews:

1. Reward the positive reviews

If you hear something good – let people know about. If you are only keeping an eye out for bad ones, you miss out on making friends who like your product. These are the type of people who will come to your rescue whenever some sort skulldudgery is involved.

Our good friends at Behemoth recently got shellacked on Untappd for  ‘Dump the Trump’. Rabid users from overseas took offence to a Kiwi brewer making a satiric reference to the current US president.  However, fans of the indy brewer showed up in force; no one likes the big bully from the playground messin’ with one of their own!

2. Ask why the review is bad

Whenever possible, always ask why the review is bad. In some cases, it might be oxidised bottles or a bad batch. In other cases, non-traditional beers may produce floaters or unusual colours that might offput drinkers. It actually does matter on the session order too – a lager or kölsch finished after a Hop Zombie will dramatically reduce the taste of these easy going beers. Also judging systems can range from person and even country to country: the top rated brewery in the USA is a whopping 4.71/5, while the best rated one in New Zealand is a more conservative 3.97/5.

One of our proudest moments was when Carlos and I went to Tauranga to demo our  Poke of the Bear.  A guy came up to us and pulled up an Untappd thread were Carlos responded to a bad review. Carlos worked with the reviewer and realised the issue was an oxidised bottle. Carlos took the conversation offline and got the user a good bottle, to which the review was changed. The best part was that the guy showing us the thread was not the affected user, rather someone who was following our brewery. He was just stoked that someone on the other end was actually listening!

3. Just let it go

Sometimes its just best to do nothing at all. In such cases you can sift through profiles and see that some people have nothing good to say. This easier said than done. There several instances when I have read troll reviews I would call up Alvin and Carlos and shout ‘Hey did you hear what that scabby, weapons-grade sh!t-gibbon said in that untappd review?’ I know how hard we work on our beverages, and it can be heartbreaking to see someone be so dismissive and cruel.Luckily – in almost every instance we’ve had friends we have made along way stick up for us with good reviews (see point one).  In some cases, just biting your tongue is the best course of action, and just let the bad reviews take care of themselves.

In short – if you get one of the those shiny 5 star reviews, crack open a bottle and toast them! We have met a lot of these fans in real life, and they soon became great friends to share a drink (or 5) with!

Addendum:

This post was brewing around in my head for a while and took a while to incubate. I really want to thank Andy Nyguyen for his thoughtful presentation at the Full Indy Summit in Vancouver, which was titled “Make Friends, Not Fans“, which inspired me to finally write about this. He touched upon many things we were doing right (an perhaps wrong).  Though we are in different industries (indy video games vs indy brewing) there are more than a few similarities between the two. I’ll add his presentation here as soon as its available.

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