I'll have to be honest and say that my beer blog resulted as an indirect conflict between my perception of what CAMRA seemed to be saying and the realities I found in running a pub. The peak of that conflict occurred before we found our feet here, before we started brewing beer, before we gained entry to the Good Beer Guide and most importantly, before I joined CAMRA. Luckily I didn't start this blog until I had gained some understanding that it is all to do with perception, perspective, context and opinion. For sure there is no right or wrong answer. Except when it comes to sparklers.
Today I saw that Melissa Cole is picking a fight with Malcolm Gluck. Good, I thought. But I'm getting bored of this Gluck fella. He's clearly a pillock and a wine snob and his comments are simply being used to gain attention. I was concerned that Mellisa was biting. But still, riding his publicity won't do her any harm. I lazily browsed to find her writings about the situation and found a piece that I enjoyed. I was interested in seeing a comment from some blogger called WellDoneFillet, which of course, for any food aware person is a contradiction of terms. I had to check it out.
I was initially quite offended by what I read. The guy is a waiter in a restaurant and it seems his blog is mainly about things that annoy him during his time at work. These annoyances normally come in the form of customers. I understand this, as we get customers too. Some are not worth the hassle, although normally the annoying types can be spotted by their confusion over the lack of Carling, or similar. This blogger had clearly had a real ale drinker in and had been irritated by the customer's questions over the beer on offer. Mr WellDoneFillet, in his piece, proceeded to attack real ale drinkers in a similar way to Malcolm Gluck's attack on beer drinkers in general. It does bother me that a restaurant waiter is alienating a section of his customer base that would like to eat quality food but would also like quality beer with his food, I could do a whole post on this alone.
Luckily I have learnt to step back from offending posts and take a deep breath. Perhaps sometimes not long or deep enough, but I'm getting there. I decided that his post was a bit of naughty fun making and little more. The problem is, despite the fact that real ale drinkers cover a much wider spectrum of people than is portrayed in this and many other places, it is still a perception held by many.
There are people who have been bothered about this perception for some time. Despite attempts by CAMRA to dispel this perception. Jeff Pickthall being one and pubcurmudgeon another. A very important observation was made by Real Ale Blog recently, which I had to sympathise with. Perhaps Malcolm Gluck has a point about the perception that beer drinkers are sadsacks. If a proportion of the population thinks that beer drinkers are either lager numptys or real ale geeks, then while his observations might insult us, the real beer geeks, there might well be a discerning customer base out there that would only ever drink wine with food, G&T most of the rest of the time and a fizzy lager if it's hot, because they don't want the label of real ale drinker.
Out of the three people in the pictures here, which one is an odd one out? The obvious answer is the last one, he's a normal person. The other two are bearded weirdos. Well although this is true, the last person is our Labour MP - normal? you judge. Actually, I've got my reservations about the damage done by Labour to small businesses like pubs, but still, he is a nice guy and drinks real ale.
The first picture is of a real ale drinker at the NWAF. The second is my father, who does not drink and is always slagging off Labour at every opportunity and I wish he wouldn't. I have a beard, drink real ale, other beers, wine and whiskey - I don't waste my unit allocation on G&T, I might vote Tory next time, but might not.
The correlation between beards and real ale does exist, but it is not as strong as perception suggests and is damaging to it's image.
Yes, I know I've mixed up CAMRA and politics and beards all together. But I'm concerned about perception, not reality, which I know are two different things.