Now I'm not going to try and tell the reader that we should not worry about such things. Indeed as a licensee I sometimes think the powers we, the good old fashioned landlord used to enjoy, have been diminished by the "customer is always right" attitude of today. But the neo-prohibitionist is certainly undermining the beer market as a revered beverage. It has to be the case that we have already, as a nation, curtailed the worst of the problems and the drinks industry needs to regain acceptance.
Many bloggers have commented on advertising censorship. Recently Pete Brown has posted about the imagery in the media that shows beer as a demon drink. It certainly seems to be the case that mass media exposure for beer is largely either crass advertising by the big brewers or news items showing unsavoury behaviour.
The Oz and James drink to Britain was fun and informative without going too far into a geeky perspective. It featured some interesting brewers and beers and might just have helped to strengthen feelings amongst those consumers who respect beer as well as opening up ideas for beer drinkers who might otherwise have not been so adventurous. My worry is that it's slightly loutish behaviour by overgrown men would probably not help a more sophisticated approach to the beer market.
Oz and James also focused closely on British beer, which of course was the remit of the program. Their eagerness to belittle the position of British lager was criticised by beer writers that appreciate properly made lager, but perhaps not inappropriate seeing as mass produced British lager deserves no reverence whatsoever.
For all the good work that CAMRA does to promote beer it seems to have failed in one area that I'd like it to succeed in; the wholesale promotion of beer as a great and quality product. There is the very valid argument that this is not the purpose of CAMRA. If that is the case who else is going to do it?
There is of course the Guild, of which I am a member. The majority of the guild members are trying to eek a living out of writing about beer. I'm just playing at it for the time being. I'd like to think that one day I'll transfer into being paid, but there is inevitably a catch to that. I would have to start thinking about my audience. Beer writers who get paid presumably have to produce material that publishing companies, papers, radio or T.V. want to pay for. This does not necessarily match what the writers want to write about.
There are some good books that explore the beer world in a more global manner. Pete Browns book Three Sheets to the Wind was loaned to me recently. When somebody loans their signed copy you know they want you to read it. I'm half way through and currently the story is leading me to Portland in Oregon. It is indeed an excellent book and if you have not read it then do so, soon. What we need though is for the information contained in such books to become more digestible to the lazy masses. Some distillation into newspapers, magazines, radio and T.V. is required.
In essence then I feel there is a gap in the beer communications arena. A gap between the mass media, of which the professional beer writers are inevitably tied and that of the one beer consumer group in the country. The blogosphere does in some way fill that gap, but it's not anywhere near mass media, at least not yet. Additionally, blogging can get a little messy and personal as occasionally there are fall outs when disagreements go too far.
I am keen to explore what can be done, but currently have a pub to run. We're into what I hope is a busy season, the sun is shining and so I have to go and make bread. While I knead the dough I will think some more about how we can better capture the positive attention of the mass media.