Sunday 15 November 2009

Beer Writers' perspective

I have Google Alerts set up on certain keywords. It generally tells me when popular ranking sites are saying something about beer or real ale or pubs. Jamie Goode's wine blog generated one such alert. His post is about the judging of the British Guild of Beer Writers awards. It seems the decisions are made, so everything I write from now on goes towards next year.The trouble is I've got nearly three weeks of increasing suspense before I find out the results. It's enough to turn a man to drink. Jamie, quite rightly, gives away no secrets.

I noticed Jamie reports a couple of interesting topics that seemed to dominate the work entered. One is the good old Portman group versus BrewDog. An argument that most beer writers love to hate and hate to love with equal proportions. The other is more interesting to me.
"A recurrent theme seems to be that although CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has done some good things for beer in the past, they currently seem a bit out of touch and stubbornly defensive of their own particular vision of ‘real ale’."
Being one of the entrants who might have put this point across to some extent, I'm interested in why such an unbalanced view seems to dominate. It would be all to easy for me to say that it proves the point; beer writers are saying it is so, it must be true.

I'm not comfortable in saying that. I think there might also be the case that the CAMRA view might not have been well represented in the entries.

Shall we discuss?

That was a short one. Is all this twittering making me less verbose?


Tandleman said...

Two thoughts Dave. First an observation. Writing for judges rather than an audience is, to my mind, an odd way of doing things - I could expand - and secondly, being concerned about CAMRA's view of what constitutes real ale, is rather like being concerned why CND isn't campaigning for better nuclear weapons.

I do agree and have said so in the past, that CAMRA can appear out of touch. As CAMRA gets bigger, it needs a fundamental look at what it does and how it does it. But CAMRA isn't an umbrella beer organisation. That's the mistake some critics make. Maybe it should be (in the view of some), but it isn't.

Unknown said...

Writing for the judges? Well, I write because things inspire me. For the last couple of months the prospect of winning something has inspired me.

Anyway Tandleman, I think you have taken the bait in a different way to how I expected. My concern is that CAMRA seem under-represented in the official beer writing world in respect to the British Guild of Beer Writers. Perhaps you should consider joining?

CND are against nuclear weapons. Your analogy suggests CAMRA are against any beer that is not real ale. I think that would be a shame.

Tandleman said...

Dave - The old adage that I wouldn't join any club that would have me as member is a good one, though like all such things, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

So I might just do that, but not to defend CAMRA. My beer interests are far wider than that.

Maybe the CND analogy was a failure, but my point about CAMRA not being an umbrella organisation for all things beery, is my main point. Hell, the BBPA isn't even that and it ought to be (probably).

Sat In A Pub said...

I took Tandleman's point about writing for judging to mean "you've got to be in it to win it". That is to say it is only representative of the British Guild of Beer Writers, not of beer blogging as a whole.

So unless Camra are heavily represented in memebers writings, then you cannot expect more of their side of the story to be told. As you know, Tandleman isn't a member and even some who are don't get involved in the competition.

Unknown said...

Tyson, anybody can enter the awards. I shouldn't be telling people this as it might increase the competition.

"Entrants do not have to be members the British Guild of Beer Writers – they just have to communicate about beer or beer culture, new products or the ingredients and brewing of beer." found at this page of the guild site.

Only published work, which can be nothing more than blogs or websites, can be entered.

So, all beer bloggers, whether they be CAMRA members, Guild members or just plain beer fans can enter.

Tandleman said...

I sort of meant that it is better to just write and then be judged, than to think of being judged for prizes when you write. If that makes sense.

Unknown said...

Yes Tandleman, it does make sense and I agree. I'd like to think that the best stuff I did was exactly that.

Sat In A Pub said...


Fair point, but if I as a member didn't know that, what's the chances others do? Plus, there's still the point about wanting to enter in the first place.

I think Tandleman has a point, although of course in the practical sense, if you don't enter, how are the judges to assess you?

Cooking Lager said...

I'd enter it myself like, for a laugh, but I'd have to buy a stamp.

Anyway of entering it online?