Sunday 12 July 2009

Beer Passion

Beer is like no other product. It raises emotions and opinions in just the same way as politics and religion. People who drink beer regularly almost always have a view on the subject. Sometimes it's the price of a pint, sometimes it's the brand of beer, sometimes it's the temperature or the fullness of the glass or the use or otherwise of extraneous CO2.

Pubs are like no other business. Perhaps it's as a direct result of them still being, for the now at least, where the majority of beer is consumed. Regular and irregular pub customers almost always have a view on this diverse industry. No one style of pub is going to suit everybody. For some, the basic traditional pub doesn't provide the level of comfort or sophistication that they desire, perhaps these people are snobs. Others find too much ponciness results in an "up their own arse" impression that doesn't belong in a pub, and perhaps this set of customers lack the appreciation required.

For me, like many other publicans, my pub is my livelihood, my home and pretty much my life. I know that I get oversensitive when comments are made about the industry. I know that many publicans are putting in hours well in excess of the working hours directive, many are working for less than the minimum wage. Some, like me, do it for reasons that are hard to define but for sure have very little to do with money. It is, basically, our passion.

More than this, the niche sectors of the beer market, real ale and extreme beers, are promoted well by unpaid people. Be it CAMRA or beer bloggers or tickers or beer geeks they all, we all, contribute towards promoting and encouraging the more unusual small time brewers and the pubs that are bringing these beers to market.

I am part of that niche industry and therefore I care about what these groups of people say. If there is something that we don't do and feel we are unable to do, but there is comment that it should generally be done, I feel bad. I think that I care too much because it drives me to distraction, far too often, from the general good running of the business.

So why do people do this unpaid promotion? There always has to be an exchange. For paid work there is the exchange of money in return for hours attended. Without the money, most of us wouldn't do it. Conversely, when we do something for the fun of it, when the pay is negligible or none existent, like running a pub, blogging or being a CAMRA activist, there has to be an alternative payback, a discretionary exchange. Much of these activities are well meaning and truly intend to help the industry that is providing the goods and services that the impassioned desire.

The payback for many, of course, is the feeling that they are a little bit more in control of what they care about; pubs and beer. A feeling of being able to shape the things they are passionate about. For me, part of running my place is to do something I care about. To be able to create a pub that does things the way I see that they should be done. As I say, perhaps I care too much. When the things that the promoters say are at odds with what I feel I can or should do, or are impossible to attain because of our location or where the layout of the building prevents it, these comments cut deeper than anybody might ever believe.

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove
that laid him down or cut him
till he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains
Simon and Garfunkel


Reuben Gray - TaleOfAle said...

I do it because I enjoy it. I enjoy brewing beer, I enjoy drinking beer. I enjoy writing about beer on my blog and reviewing beers. It's free advertising for the beers I review but that is fine as it is a hobby at the end of the day. People usually do not get paid for a hobby. Perhaps you feel that running a pub and brewing your own beer is a hobby in which case you have it well even if it is a stressful 24/7 job.

Tandleman said...

Well enjoyment is obviously part of it otherwise why do it? I like beer and I like and support pubs. I write about them as a hobby, not that think I know best, as it all more or less opinion at the end of the day. But I've been around the pub and beer game a long time and hopefully learned one or two things.

My standards aren't necessarily those of others, nor are my concerns and interests. That's what makes it my blog and my take on things. Not right or wrong - just mine. That's also what makes genuinely written blogs by people who like and care about beer and pubs (and to me at least they go hand in hand)so interesting and worthwhile. The converse of course is true.

Caring 'is' a large part of it too, but blogging, like birdsong can just be "Look at me - I'm here!" For some, (not you) more than others.

I like your blog and your standards a lot. You care about it and that'll do for me.

Unknown said...

Saruman, a hobby can be parked for a while. When it takes over your life and imprisons you, it ceases to be a hobby.

Rod for my own back, perhaps?

Tandleman, thanks, that also means a lot.

Cooking Lager said...

Seems to me you are engaged in the endeavour of love, as are all within your world. Philosophers and scientists through the ages have tried to explain love but there is no explanation. Luckily beer loves you back, so at least your love is requited, and your love will bring you joy.

Unknown said...

Thanks Cooking Lager. Indeed, beer does love me back, every night when I taste it. It's the best part of the day, when the shop is all locked up and I can sit in the quiet and contemplate......

Paul Garrard said...

I remember Watney's Red Barrel. That's why I do it. Don't think we want to return to those days!

Jeff Pickthall said...

Unknown said...

Paul, good point.


We've got to get more people to learn how to use HTML anchor tags.

The post on Jeff's blog

Read Jeff's post to understand this comment.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Why do I do it - the life of a publican and brewer? Well, it's for the fast cars, hot women, and steak every night.

Just like you taught me.

Cooking Lager said...

You have a point, Paul. Not all are motivated by love. Many are motivated by hate. The nervous circuits in the brain responsible for hate are the same as those that are used for love, parts of the brain called the putamen and the insula. Possibly explaining why both can result in similar acts of extreme behaviour. Science has all the answers.