Am at a conference at the moment for the services side of students’ unions. Whilst we are constantly being told that the student profile is changing and new opportunities must be sought, the conference still centres heavily on alcohol and drinking. The culture here isn’t changing, and in some ways it feels like a hermetically sealed bubble of student officers who are the last bastion of old students.

Which was why it was doubly amusing to see the opening keynote speaker to be from a small independent brewery. The management advice peddled by the Dusanj brothers who bought Liverpool’s Cains Brewery five years ago was good. Find out what you do well, and push that. In their case (and this certainly has resonance with universities) think of your local connections – and improve your product. The irony being however that however good his beers are, by virtue of being a small brewery he won’t be able to sell them in an NUSSL affialted students’ union. Bulk buying and bulk profits are king.

I’ll sniff around Liverpool to find a Cains pub. The material given suggests a kind of Sam Smith’s style operation for their tied pubs – and they certainly talk the talk when it comes to brewing. But for all the branding and market research in the world does not make a good beer.

(For the record, I run one of the very few Students’ Unions where you can even buy real ale, despite its current resurgance in sales.)