Saturday 15 November 2014

Storming - why we need conflict

I've already mentioned, I'm taking part in an amateur production of Peter Pan at the beginning of December. We're an enthusiastic lot. Everyone is working towards one goal, that of a finished show, 5 performances and the after show party. The producers have their own take on what everyone should do, that’s their job.

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.


Unknown said...

Well said Dave, I will continue to stand up and shout about what I believe in as long as there is air in my lungs!

Ed said...

Go for it Dave! Going off on one definitely gets the clicks, and makes things more fun!

Cooking Lager said...

it makes for cheap publicity, I guess.

StringersBeer said...

Given "conflict" is a good thing, are we to look forward to more bullshit?

Rob said...

Go for it. I look forward to hearing more vague insinuations about big beer with no real information or context to allow anyone else to judge whether they think you are reasonable or not.

Unknown said...

Matthew, indeed, I think it is important to do so.

Cookie, yes, this is a relatively low cost, except for the time spent responding to comments, way of promoting my business.

What baffles me is the people who are intent on trying to shoot down my own attempts at promoting my own business.

I insist that what I write on this blog is what I truly believe in. Yes, there is a motive in selling beer, it's half my job, the other half being the making of said beer. I drawn from various experiences and there is no reason why I should have to divulge details further than what I am prepared to do.

Further more, what really baffles and actually I find fairly upsetting is the need for one brewery, who in real life I thought to be our friends, puts more effort into accusing me of bullshit rather than putting that effort into marketing their own brewery.

I try very hard to be honest and as upfront as I can with the things I write and it deeply disappoints me that people who comment don't trust me on that.

Rob said...

Dave, to be clear, I'm not saying you don't believe what you say. But you are the one making accusations against other people, even if you're not willing to say who they are. I don't know whether this consists of just chatting over a pint ("Oh, I wish you wouldn't stop putting the rest of us down Dave") or something more sinister ("If you don't shut up we'll make sure you never get into SIBA/Sainsburys etc"). Context for this sort of thing is everything, and whilst you may see it a certain way, others may not agree.

StringersBeer said...

"One brewery"? Hells teeth Dave, aren't you even going to name me? It's all for fun isn't it? And to stir up a bit of interest? Did you read what I wrote about bullshit?

Unknown said...

No, I didn't read you post on Bullshit. Rather too busy trying to run a brewery.

Bullshit is a derogatory word in my view, an indication of a lack of sincerity.

Do you think I lack sincerity?

Tandleman said...

Well, I'm doing my bit. At least from time to time.

StringersBeer said...

Sincere in your feelings, I'm absolutely sure. However, you've offered no evidence to support the vague allegations you made. Why does this matter to me? It doesn't really, but you post something and solicit comments, you'll get comments. If you expect them all to be "hear hear, that's what I think", then you'll be disappointed. If you're going to get upset about any kind of criticism, you might want to reconsider the kind of things you say, or be prepared to back them up.

Ages ago, after you'd commented that "hype is the only thing left to use" I asked you "What can we offer that hyped or big-budget products can never have?" I'm still asking you.

Anyhoo, as Harry Frankfurt concludes, "Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial - notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit."
Which seems a bit harsh. But there you go.

Cooking Lager said...

@stringer "we need conflict" QED this is an adversarial one.

I think everyone should stick it in their pipe and smoke it.

Unknown said...

What can we offer? I feel I have a good handle on what Hardknott can and does offer. We offer individualism, we offer beers that would never get brewed in a brewery that needs mass marketing to succeed. We offer an alternative to those un-individual offerings that big budget beers, many of which bear nearly no difference or individuality from many other beers.

It almost seems strange that you need to ask the question. Do you not have a difference that you want to make more of? If there is nothing then why do you bother brewing at all?

The very thing that micro-breweries in general can offer is the ability to be more flexible, more individual. They can offer products that would never be entertained by larger brewers because thy would fail to find a large enough market.

StringersBeer said...

So, not hype then. Good old-fashioned niche products. Something else you've changed your thinking on?