I generally agree with the comments made recently by Pete Brown and a related subject by Zak Avery regarding divisions in the beer world. This is all followed up by Tandleman who very nicely points out that we should all be able to comment where we like whilst still calling for a united front for British beer. Within these pieces there are links to other very salient observations by other bloggers. I do get all of this; there is a danger of us being far too negative rather than maintaining general positiveness about beer. There is indeed much to celebrate about beer in the UK, it's very diverse with a fantastic mix of progressive and traditional.
However, this also leads me to wonder. In the cities there are some great places to get great beer. There are specialist beer bars springing up all over the place and they all seem to be doing very well indeed. For this "craft beer revolution" to work it does need a cosmopolitan environment. Here in Cumbria there might well be some things to celebrate, but for the growing number of beer Crafterati within the county, it can be frustratingly difficult to improve enthusiasm for craft beer, whatever your definition of craft might be.
I can see the folly of criticising what people choose to drink, but equally there are areas of the country where the beer world view is still very narrow. I cannot get to most of the pubs that serve the beers I enjoy without driving, or getting Ann to drive. Most of my beer sales are a significant distance from where I have chosen to set up my brewery.
Imagine you can't get any beer that you really enjoy. Imagine you live in a county where everything is terribly parochial. Imagine you very rarely get anything other than boring brown beer, or even perhaps pale beer, but barely with much hop character to write about. Imagine that you are the sort of person who realises that drinking 6 pints of session ale does nothing for you other than damaging liver cells and putting a little more unwanted fat around your waist.
Imagine you are a brewer who is operating from that county and finds that most of your market is, in fact, outside the county because people inside don't really like the beers you make, despite them being awarded beer of the festival at least three times.
We know that there are people who like my beer. We also know that there are people who don't. Sometimes, when we follow up a sale to a pub, in the hope of repeat custom, the reply is an honest "my customers didn't really like it". Of course, I worry that it might have been a fault with that particular cask, and sometimes that might be so, in which case we try our best to address that situation. However, it is clear that certain outlets find that our approach to beer does not match the very stale traditional outlook which prevails.
When I send my beer to more progressive beer outlets I worry that it isn't progressive enough. I worry that I need to pack more flavour into the beer and ensure I can impress the Crafterati.
I know fine well that a massive 8% hop bomb is never going to be mainstream, and nor should it be. I know that imperial wood aged stouts are specialist beers of which most drinkers will be rightly sceptical.
I must hereby state my absolute right to slag off attitudes and choices of beer that prevent me from enjoying my own beer world, either from a brewer's or a drinker's perspective. By proxy of course this has to extend to supporting the right of people to deride chemical fizzy beer, even though I have now come to realise the error of that course of action.
It is interesting that Pete Brown's muse was triggered by Cookie's point that the wine world never slags off poor wine. Excuse me, after only the briefest of looks I found quite a few wine blogs where there are similar topics to be found. OK, wine buffs might be a bit more subtle about how they deride lower quality, or the use of such things as sulphites, for instance. We could discuss the fact that wine writers appear to be more erudite if you like, that would be more appropriate, but of course that would sit very uncomfortably with most beer enthusiasts.
Wine critic, art critic, music critic? Just the same as the beer critic surely? We can't all just write about that last great beer we tried in that new beer bar can we? If all beer writing is just about awesome beer we like we'll get criticised for not talking about the issues.
I can't help feeling that we are going around in ever decreasing circles.