Boak and Bailey’s post earlier this week got me thinking, there is a lot of talk about how we would like things to be with respect to beer and ale and their place in society but could we maybe do more to push “the beer society” (excuse the pun).
I am sure that a lot of the people reading this will already do their bit in bursting the beer bubble, if you are an active member of CAMRA you most likely do something to drive beers image, if you blog on beer then you are doing something, run a brewery or pub then I hope you are doing something – but could we do more?
The trouble is that I think beer activism comes in two forms – one form (which I shall call beardy, and yes I do have a beard) is the kind of activism where people have discussions with like-minded or near like-minded beer and ale fans. They most likely address the issues facing beer and it’s image from the perspective of someone who already has beer appreciation listed as one of their hobbies. The thing about this is that it is really the discussion of the issues of tomorrow, they are the next step in beer as in all honesty these people are already living the current step in beer.
The other form of activism is driven from the breweries, the brands and their representatives – now don’t get me wrong, I am not brand bashing here, but anything coming from a one of these groups is likely to have some agenda tied to it – they are businesses and so their activity is of course based around generating sales. This is not a bad thing, more beer awareness, whether is has a brand tagged to it or not is a good thing. The exception is when a very agenda driven view is pushed or the message is lost in the branding or worse an important issue is lost to the calls of “well you would say that as it makes you more sales”. But we should be thankful that the brewing industry does some of the activism because, frankly, some of it is too big for individuals.
I would say emphatically yes and I would imagine that, just as some of you reading this are beardy activists and brewery activists, some of you (if not all of you) are doing some other militant beer pushing.
No beard or brewery?
Have you ever made an impromptu beer suggestion? and I don’t mean just at a festival, some complete stranger is looking lost at the supermarket beer aisle or is not sure what to order in a pub – you help them?
This kind of opportunity can really give you the chance to push some beer advice “if you like that one then this one will suit you too” “have you every tried beery XXX, it’s a bit like what you have there but a bit stronger” – you have in a short moment put a pin to the beer bubble. Mrs public has just been nudged that little closer towards trying something different, maybe they like it and try a few random beers by themselves, maybe they pass the suggestion on and soon their friends are all raving about beery XXX – at worst they will look at you as if you spoke alien and then buy their bottle of Generic No.2.
Would you believe that there are some people who serve beers who don’t know about them? this may come as a shock, “how can they make suggestions then” I hear you cry? Well here comes the next little nudge in beer activism, throw it right back at them (No! not the beer) give them a little bit of beer knowledge. Tell them the beer you would like to have had with your meal, ask the barman if they have ever heard of beery XXX, describe what you think of the beer you are tasting.
People absorb some stupid stuff in their lives, it is why my brain is full of song lyrics to songs I hate, worse still the brain does tend to spill that information back when prompted. If you give that little snippet of information which I am sure you have on beer then it will come back from that person many fold and to people you will never meet.
If you are feeling really brave then go even further, at the end of the evening engage in light conversation with the waiters/bar staff on beer and food matching, something might spark them off, if not – then you lose nothing.
Almost 800 words and you said nothing new?
I know, but I think maybe “new” is not what the world needs when it comes to putting beer in it’s rightful public place. Unless all those who enjoy quality beer have got something completely wrong then the rest of society is missing out on a pleasure which they would gladly enjoy if given the nudge to try it.
If we want more beer bubble bursty moments where beer threatens to come out of the dark bar closet and be something natural to talk about with anyone in public then we need more people to take the little steps.
The media will only cover things which lots of people are interested in, and it is hard to persuade it otherwise, an individual however is much easier to nudge into beer (not literally), so the little beer activism will have a bigger net effect.
So please, this week, go and nudge a few people who would not otherwise engage in beer, every one of them that you help take a little step will lead us one person closer to making society wake up to how good good beer can be.
Cheers to Boak and Bailey for the inspiration, if you are reading this and you haven’t read their blog then you really ought to – it’s way better than this!