Sunday, 8 November 2009

At the Heart of it

There's been controversy in the beer geek 'blogosphere/twittersphere/whateversphere' by the bucketload this past few weeks, coming to a head with BrewDog's latest shenanigans surrounding the Tokyo* vs. The Portman Group debacle. (If you don't already know about it, then what the hell are you doing reading this steaming pile of insignificance? - Find it here.)

I've been following the whole thing for a while now, both direct from the source and reading bloggers' responses either in outrage or heaped in praise for BrewDog's unconventional approaches. I'm a proponent of their beers, like the vast majority of craft drinkers out there. I'm certainly not their most ardent of fans - I still haven't tried the infamous Tokyo* or their Nanny State - but the beers that I have tried, I have nothing but good things to say about them.

But all this leads me to the point of this post: isn't it just beer? I know I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't have some obsession with craft beer, but - and correct me if I'm wrong (I'd love some responses!) - aren't we all just getting a bit too wrapped up in it? For some, the beer industry is a job and a living, not just an interest, but to the rest of us, the 'hobbyists', I ask "shouldn't we take it for what it is, at face value, that is, as BEER?"

I feel we are getting too caught up in the hype of marketing and it's offshoots, too caught up in the controversy and focusing less and less on the actual beer. Why don't we, as drinkers, ignore the guerilla tactics of the 'Dog and concentrate solely on their liquid outputs? I realise this is easier said than done, since the very objective of their marketing is to be as rebellious and in-your-face as possible, and this sells beer - that's just the perverse way in which the human mind works, I guess - but there are brewers out there who are brewing equally tasty and boundary-pushing beers without the excessive ornamentation.

A degree of marketing is necessary but word of mouth (physical or virtual) in beer circles is as good as any - call me old-fashioned if you will. With the increase in beer blogs, with communication over Twitter and with sites such as RateBeer and Beer Advocate, there have never been better opportunites for drinkers to consult other fans and discuss the beers they drink (or want to drink). The (beer) world is at our fingertips and instead of taking these strategies for what they are, we're getting preoccupied with everything except the beer.

Yes, I understand that if silly things are done we may lose the beers we enjoy. However, if by refusing to be taken in by these extravaganzas of self-promotion, tactics such as this become a thing of the past then don't we win out in the end?

So next time you're reading a 'thought-provoking' article of any sort relating to the craft beer business, why not just sit back, open a cold one (or room temperature one, but that doesn't have the same 'ring') and laugh it off: "those meddling kids!"

Post scriptum. I'm simply playing devil's advocate here. I'm not a professional anything and I have no experience as anything other than a drinker but if I can provoke even a decimal of the reaction that BD have been creating, then maybe someone who knows what they're talking about can put it across better with the facts and statistics in tow.

No comments:

Post a Comment