Wednesday's rehearsal was a little more fraught than usual. Two weeks tomorrow we'll have dress rehearsal. Tensions are building and conflict is not far away. There are a few things going slightly wrong and enthusiasm from some means they want to chip in with their own ideas as to how to fix things, but of course, not everyone sees things the same way.
Now, if the dozen or so adults who are key to the whole thing didn't care, if we were not full of enthusiasm for making the whole thing work, if there was no passion for what we are doing then the stress levels would not be rising. But equally, without that drive and the fire in the belly of all involved the show would turn out to be rubbish, lack-luster, and we'd bore the audience1.
Three paragraphs and I haven't mentioned beer once. OK, I did allude to an after show party, but really, what the blazes has this got to do with beer? It struck me after the rehearsals, when three or four of us were finishing off a keg of Azimuth2 and thus helping the overall stress levels to subside, that the conflict between like minded people who are all broadly on the same side is a necessary part of creativity.
And here we have the nub of my point; the beer world is full of passionate people. There are CAMRA activists, brewers within various styles and sizes of brewery and there are beer drinkers of a huge range of desires and aspirations. We have distributors, bar and pub owners and operators and other important people who form the systems that get beer from the fermenting tanks to the beer drinker’s mouths. We then have people writing about beer for a living, or perhaps as part of a more diverse journalistic career. And we also have bloggers, who often bridge into most of the above groups.
Many of these people are intensely passionate about what they do. They also have different opinions, perspectives, aims and goals. You can probably put any 10 people from the beer world all together in one room and give them long enough, and perhaps enough beer, they will find something to split opinion.
My last post created quite a discussion thread, culminating in me being accused of bullshit. I know what I want to do with Hardknott, where I think we should be going and how that fits, or doesn't fit with the rest of the beer world. Other breweries that are destined for success need to have the same level of focus. They will have their own vision, that determination to achieve the concept they set out to create. I think it is important to shout out about what is good in the beer world and to do that we sometimes have to compare against the things that we don''t like. We should not be swayed by fear of a few blog comments, or the voice of beer institutions, that appear to be trying to curtail those of us that have a point of view.
The passion to create something stunning is what keeps us guys going. Without it we'd just be making the same bland and boring beer like the next guy. Without that drive to gain the recognition we'd go nowhere and achieve nothing. Without the desire to shout out about the ways we differ from other breweries we'd probably end up being no different, and what good would that do us?
I hear so many cries that there is too much arguing within the beer world. Really? Too much? Conflict can be good, indeed I firmly believe it is essential to success of a truly stunning project. I think without the conflict between CAMRA, craft keg, discussion about the beer tie, even sparklers we'd be living in a much blander, more boring beer world.
This is why I feel it is time for me, and my brewery, to rise up and be more confrontational. We've been too quiet for a while, and I don't believe this has been good for me, my business or the greater beer world. The beer world needs people to stand up and shout about what they think is wrong, or at least what could be added to make it better because without it we will return to a more homogenous bland world with nothing but a few almost indistinguishable beers perhaps simply separated by the dispense method.
1Yes, it might well end up that way in any case, but at least we'll be sure we've all tried our hardest.
2The main revenue for the Palladium is the bar takings. OK, we'll be hoping for a reasonable box office from the show, and hiring the hall out helps too, but the building, which is in dire need of a new roof at around £100,000, needs the bar to bring in the dish. I'm fortunate that the people in charge of the bar have increasingly patronised Hardknott. This isn't the only reason I'm now becoming more involved, but it's a factor. Anyway, helping to finish the keg before it went all foisty, as even keg can after a while, is just another example of the selfless sacrifice I'm making for good causes.