Monday, 4 January 2010

A New Year

We've had a few days relaxation since the New Year came in, it's been nice. We opened the bar for a couple of days for New Year itself, I'm still wondering if it was financially useful but we had nice people in for drinks and New Year's Eve was busy during the day with walkers coming off the fells thirsty for ale. Sadly, it seems the icy roads put people off paying us a visit in the evenings and the snow was not sufficient to get anybody snowed in here. Once we closed again at the end of a very quiet New Year's Day we scurried off for a little break taking advantage of post holiday hotel cheapness. Now we're back into it, like I suspect everyone else is, and I need to think about the year ahead in many ways. In a month's time we'll be opening up again at weekends and the winter sojourn will be over. I started on my jobs today by plumbing in a new WC - it's only been sitting in the shed for about a year, I must be improving at getting jobs done.

Turning towards this blog I should think about subject matter. Tandleman has made me feel slightly guilty with his recent post; there are a few interesting points made about beer bloggers not getting out much and concentrating on beer drinking at home. I realise that the last year has seen my beer horizons shift from pub orientated cask beer to a more eclectic outlook on this blog and consequently I have had little to say about cask beer and pubs recently. I decided that the only course of action was to take myself to one side and have a quiet but firm word. I now believe we both understand me and as the subject of beer has to be inclusive I'm going to make an attempt to ensure I don't leave cask or pubs behind. I did agree with myself however, that forays into the world of interesting beer could be permitted, but warned myself to avoid overdoing it. 

Mark has also written a thought provoking piece about the year to come, which in someways provides a parallel counterpoise for my thought process above. To me Mark is an example of a growing number of young beer enthusiasts that will shape the beer world in the next decade and probably beyond. Forward thinking, receptive and enthusiastic about all types of beer and keen to write about it for no other reason than a love of beer and writing.

Tandleman particularly noted a need for CAMRA to have a long look at itself. I don't know if it will be all that easy as there are many opinions as to what the organisation should do. However, as Tandleman says, the fact that it'll never please everyone is not a reason to avoid an overdue review of its purpose. My fear would be that without engaging with a young, forward thinking, receptive and enthusiastic future we may see a decline in CAMRA in a few years time, which would be a shame.

I think the beer future will be multifaceted and I hope that the various factions will get along just fine. I think pubs in particular are evolving beasts but sometimes I wonder if they evolve fast enough. I hope that the traditional will be maintained in a way that also allows progress where it is appropriate and furthermore can permit a broad and inclusive beer culture.

8 comments:

Eddie86 said...

A nice summary Dave. I believe this year can be one of turn arounds - pubs getting better (out of necessity apart from anything else), continued growth of ale, and hopefully, ultimately, a change in how the national media reports the trade. The year of positives, perhaps?

Tandleman said...

Yes I agree too. My point about bloggers not getting out and beer men was aimed squarely at the new ambitious generation of beer geeks, who, put bluntly aren't beer men yet. They are the future indeed, but unless we want a very narrow future, they need to get out amongst it. That's why I gave some examples of people that are and who write to a high standard.

Ambition is wonderful, as is enthusiasm, but you need the broader picture too (certainly if you state your aims in an open way) and you don't get that scoffing extreme beers in your kitchen.

My point about CAMRA is that its local campaigns for pubs and cask beer are what most of us do, but its role as a lobbying group sometime sits badly with that. We just need to have it all looked at to ensure it if fit for the future. Cask ale should of course remain the key.

I too have taken myself to one side and told myself that I need to be more forthright. In a constructive way of course. Blogging needs opinion as well as enthusiasm.

Someone made the observation that with Stonch packing it in, the older generation of bloggers are quietly withdrawing. It's too early for that.

Sid Boggle said...

Good piece Dave. This point about evolving pubs must become a talking point in 2010. I've been trying to find out the make-up of the '52 pubs' closing each week (without much success - I'm working on a piece about it), but attention ought to be turning to how pubs succeed.

TM, this blogosphere seems to be a fluid sort of place. I'm older than Stonch (I'm older than Dave...) and I've just started finding an online voice. People come and go...

Tandleman said...

Sid - indeed they do, but what I'm saying is that we need the mix.

Cooking Lager said...

How long an apprenticeship of grog necking do I need before I become a "beer man" ?

Tandleman said...

A long time mate, especially if your aims are high. In your case no worries. We just need you to keep our feet on the ground. You wouldn't aspire to be a beer man anyway I suspect.

Woolpack Dave said...

Cookie, you're a beer man in my eyes.

A point might be that the beer geeks are staying at home because what they are looking for is not available in the current pub scene.

Eddie86 said...

But Dave, with the current view of cask being the saviour of the trade, perhaps that is something that will change? As a guy with ale at my heart, I'm pushing the pub that way as much as possible - first a solid selection of ales, followed now by a brewery and a bottle-ale menu for more unusual beers (read Tokyo* and Hens Teeth, for example). More and more pubs have got to twig on to what makes them work, and the one product in growth in the on trade is a sensible place to start.

Which is something of a concern to me - if ale suddenly becomes a lot more widespread, and we see more unusual ales on the bar of 'generic' pubs because the landlord's read in the trade press that's what makes money these days, could cask be damaged if it's not looked after.

God this blogging/comment thing is harder than it looks! What I mean is, I'd rather have good ale, well looked after, in 1 out of 10 pubs and the other 9 not sell it than all 10 pubs sell ale, the majority of them not in good nick, as it would hit customer confidence. I hope that makes sense...