Beards, Beer and Bad Copywriting


You know when you take a swig of beer then read the label as it washes down your throat? No? Just me then.

Here’s how my Saturday night got me thinking about beer, copywriting and keeping things simple…

The Camp and Furnace is an old warehouse on Jamaica Street in Liverpool, converted into a pub. Well, it’s bigger and better than a pub.

I’m not sure what to call it, other than lovely.

Shaving is for pussies

In the main bar area, flames from the central furnace tickle the air already filled with boozy, jolly and beardy conversation…I’d say about 90% of the men who enjoy the Camp and Furnace have beards (some of the ladies too). I’ve been a few times before but never sporting anything more than pathetic stubble.


Last week, Saturday night was packed out. For £5 you got into the large warehouse room, to see a couple of live bands perform. It’s like no other place I’ve drank in before…

Imagine a room the size of half a football pitch, with stone floors, bare-brick walls and wooden beams holding a dusty roof aloft above it all. Dotted around the place, are miniature vintage caravans and old benches – other than the pumps and fridges, everything in this room belongs outdoors.

But somehow it works.


While enjoying a catch up with my brother and friends, I could just about hear their words scratch out from beneath the distorted music, which had engulfed the acoustics inside the warehouse. Nothing against the bands – but the speakers they used were a bit splashy and they pushed the volume too high.

loud noisesMy throat got drier and drier through the necessity to shout. I gulped the beer to soothe it, sacrificing its coppery sweetness on the tongue for a kind of fizzy Calpol effect in my neck. Conversations were only occurring between songs by this point. So, during the fuzzy music, I found myself reading the copy on the back of beer bottles…

…I am so wild on a night out.


The Camp and Furnace is cool – and the beers it houses are cool too. Beers only the beardy guys who I envy would know about. Still, the copywriting on the bottles is shit. Okay, ‘shit’ is kind of serious and we are talking about beer, which is fun, so let’s just say the copywriting was…safe.

Phrases like ‘high quality product’ can fuck off. Not just from beer bottle labels but from everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care if a product tells me it’s high quality, I want to know what makes this particular product remarkable.

That lead singer could have been busting out a lyrical masterpiece but I’ll never know because the amps were too d#is%tor$$te!d.

Now, given that you’ll probably never read the label on a beer until you’ve already bought it, the writing here should not be designed to hard sell. I’d argue the objective for the 25 words of copy (max) on the back of a bottle is to make the drinker feel proud about it.


Tell a story about how it is made or how the brewery was first established or what type of people have enjoyed this beer over the years – something they can repeat to a friend in a ‘did you know?’ stylie.

I think it gives an indirect but powerful endorsement and it’s simple.



Every day’s a school day:

Frank Beard was the only member of ZZ Top not to have a beard.



Rob Philbin

Posted in Blog.