It is always instructive when a spat occurs in blogs, in which diametrically opposite views are aired. We have seen it over craft, over CAMRA, over sparklers (I must do another post on them soon - I need the ratings) and many other diverse subjects. Most of these sort of stick to the point and there is very little by way of personal insult, though, not always, as there are passionate points of view being aired - sometimes by thin skinned and intemperate people. But on the whole it is all done in the best possible taste, though you'd have to be a pretty dumb cluck not to realise that under all the bonhomie, there is a lot that divides us in the so called "unifying world of of beer."
So back to the spat. No avoiding of personal insults here. This starts out as a blogged rebuttal by Melissa Cole about something unkind that our old friends BrewDog said about British Brewing being "closed and unfriendly". This seems to have annoyed Melissa more than a bit and she goes on to rebut this point of view in strong terms. Now you might think she'd just sigh and ignore it wouldn't you? But I bet she feels about her friends in the brewing industry, the way I feel about mine in CAMRA. When you see your friends attacked in a way you see as unfair, you want to jump in on their side . I empathise with her in that respect, though recognising, like in CAMRA, everything in the British Beer Industry is far from perfect. That does need to be said, though it would be far better perhaps, if it was said by others and not our bumptious friends from the North.
Like every good pub brawl, others start jumping in. It's worth a read, so I won't go too far in spoiling your fun, but it does seem to this writer at least, that far from being the confident know-alls that they portray, BrewDog are, underneath it all just a teeny bit insecure. They secretly want to be part of it all, but having burned their boats, they can't be, so just go around burning other peoples boats too. You see, to get help and to be liked, you have to be nice to other people - at least some of the time. I doubt that the lack of respect that they have shown to most British Beer makers, with the exception of a chosen few, has exactly endeared them, but they can hardly complain that having alienated everyone, that nobody likes them can they?
The British Brewing Industry is a broad church. It covers a lot of ground and the so-called "the liquid cardboard" produced by most, is the drink favoured by the majority of their customers, otherwise they wouldn't buy it surely? It is also somewhat of an inconvenient truth. Nonetheless, I too believe that there needs to be change. When talking about how CAMRA should face the future with one National Executive member, I was struck by the observation that "CAMRA needs to be bolder. It needs to take a few risks." I agree with that wholeheartedly. The thing about all this is that there is more than a grain of truth behind the BrewDog assertion about the staidness of British brewing and yes, CAMRA has played a part in this. On the other hand, from my knowledge of brewers, there is little accuracy in comments about their "niceness." They are unfailingly nice when you meet them. On that subject, BrewDog's own fallibility is pretty well proven too, but on the plus side, they do have a go at the different, even if they are wrong headed at times in not only what they do, but the way they go about it.
BrewDog talk about being "exciting and cool" - though bumming about Ratebeer is neither. They also overlook that there is a fine line between being cool and being naff. Now I'm all for the "excitement "bit and "cool" is a part of their image and as mostly generationally inspired, can be overlooked, but one thing is true. As well as the "liquid cardboard", boldness and some more risk taking from a lot of British Brewing would not go amiss.
Does brewing fortune favour the bold? Is this another inconvenient truth?
Does anyone not think that as BrewDog gets bigger, they will fall into the same conventional trap as all bigger companies and compromise? Does anyone not think the gruesome twosome will not cash in sometime in the future?
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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