Sunday 5 April 2009

Beer writing

I like the beer blogosphere. It enables me to rant on about things that bother me in my mission to provide a quality hospitality service to discerning customers. It also provides me with plenty of ideas and opinion from other bloggers both by reading their blogs and comments left on mine. The free speech and democratic nature makes it a very exciting and powerful media that I believe is going to grow over the next few years. Freedom and interactivity are the things that make it so powerful as a communication method.

My pub is probably what you would call a specialist pub. We don't sell products that many standard pubs would consider bread and butter. A standard "cooking" lager for instance is something we don't serve. We are slowly shaping our customer base to match our product, but its frustrating when you know a small proportion just don't "get it"

This frustration was another reason why I started this blog. I knew that there was a proportion of the general public understood that there was more to beer than cream flow and extra cold and beers that only owe their success to sponsorship of major sport rather than providing a quality product. I am obviously keen to increase the number of people from this group who visit my pub and I am also keen to increase the overall number of people that understand quality beer and accepting of pub specialisation.

When I started blogging I was aware of an organisation called the British Guild of Beer Writers. Their aim is:
"To improve standards of beer writing and extend the public knowledge of beer."
I'll buy into that I thought. But of course I didn't think I'd ever consider myself worthy of joining an organisation of such stature. After all, I failed my English "0" level. Indeed failed with such a significant margin that the risk of me passing was more remote than the risk of me losing my cherry, which trust me, at 16 was also a low risk.

To my delight it was suggested that I should join the Guild. It seems I've left my secondary school education behind long ago and my subsequent application was accepted. Thank god for technical college, distance learning, and spell checkers, it seems my writing is good enough after all. I feel I now need to take the roll of beer writer seriously. There is much still to do if we are to  further explore the extension of "the public knowledge of beer"

That was perhaps quite a long introduction to the main point of this post. This point might actually be at odds with the thing that makes blogging so powerful, the freedom and accessibility of it as a medium. It is incredibly important to me to defend the position of every blogger to be able to apply their own style, language, opinions and subject matter almost without fear or favour. However, do we bloggers need to consider the image we project about beer to casual visitors?

I know my blog gets hits from Google searches. People are looking for information on beer or pubs on the Internet. I'm guessing other bloggers get the same hits on their sites, which of course is fantastic. But do we give the right impression?

There are discussions regarding accessibility of beer to the relatively disadvantaged, perhaps seen as "the drink of the working man". This is counterpoised by the desire by some to intellectualise about beer and make it more revered. Perhaps even to make it trendy. There are debates on the relative benefits or pitfalls of Wetherspoons compared to Gastro pubs. Kids in pubs, pets in pubs and many other relevant and interesting discussions take place. I enjoy them all. Extraneous CO2 also triggering thoughtful discussion, as well as the good old sparkler, if debate should fizzle out.

Perhaps the most relevant, interesting and provoking debate is the relationship that CAMRA has with the beer world as a whole. This one can really get people going. Bloggers can get very agitated when the subject is discussed. I think the discussion is good, but perhaps we need to think about how it might look to outsiders if we start getting into playground "my dad is bigger than your dad" type fights.


Whorst said...

Hopefully outsiders will see the relevant humor, which was lacking.
I think that with APRK, you now have an educational force, and a threshold for Proper Real Keg. APRK kills two birds with one stone.

The Beer Nut said...

As a group concerned pretty much exclusively with the beer of just one country, I think CAMRA has very little relationship with the beer world as a whole.

In a world where British beer is most synonymous with Newkie Brown and "Boddington's Pub Ale", the ins and outs of CAMRA look like a storm in a nip glass.

Tim said...

I think I have made my position with CAMRA pretty clear. I support the cause, but feel a responsibility to point out where they are getting it wrong.
This does not seem to go over to well with some members of the community. I suspect it's this small vocal minority who represent 90% of the problems.

Unknown said...

Wurst, most will see what you do as baiting. Taking the bait and turning it into discussion is good. The ones that take the bait, hook, line, sinker, rod, fisherman and half the flippin' quay look silly.

"storm in a nip glass" - succinct, accurate and relating to drink. I like that.

Tim, I think some of your points are valid and the way people are reacting to that looks daft.

Neville Grundy said...

"As a group concerned pretty much exclusively with the beer of just one country, I think CAMRA has very little relationship with the beer world as a whole."

Isn't this simply stating the obvious? It's rather like saying that because Canine Defence League deals with the suffering of animals from one species, it has little relationship to animal welfare as a whole.

That actually was the idea behind the whole thing ~ take it or leave it.

The Beer Nut said...

Quite right, RedNev. I'm not criticising CAMRA's scope, just the notion that the beer world as a whole knows very much about it.

The beer world as a whole mostly drinks beers like Snow and Budweiser.

Gazza Prescott said...

I thought about joining the BGBR until I heard that they did "dinners" where the beers were supplied and paid for by InBev (as was) and other multinationals.

Then you have the various well known writers seemingly in the pockets of big breweries and the whole thing leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth indeed...

The Woolpack Inn said...


That's an interesting point you make. I haven't been to any sponsored events yet, apart from a couple of CAMRA beer festival trade sessions that is.

I think any paid writer can be influenced, indeed I think that is how journalism works. However, the writers I've met seem quite independantly minded. They certanly have no love for AB InBev et al.

I still think you concern is valid and I will look out for evidence of what you mention.