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There’s been a hashtag going round about Beer people are good people. But that seems to reflect a cosy camaraderie within the craft beer world rather than a more general statement.
I’ve been involved in CAMRA and the general beer world for thirty-five years, and have to say I’ve met plenty of great people, some of whom I’m happy to count as friends. The vast majority of brewers and licensees I’ve come across have been very decent, genuine and committed.
But, on the other hand, the beer world is no different from any other section of society in having its fair share of intolerance and antagonism. The idea that there is some kind of warm, cuddly, inclusive beer community that stands out from other interest groups is largely a myth propagated by those on the inside.
One particular example that, for obvious reasons, sticks in my mind is the fairly well-known beer writer who expressed the wish in my blog comments that I should suffer a heart attack. Now that’s really nice, isn’t it? He’s a lot less well-known now than he used to be.
And let us cast our minds back to 1 July 2007, when the government decided that a particular section of the population should no longer be welcome in pubs. Many “beer people” were, and are, smokers, and indeed smokers on average were much more likely to be pubgoers than non-smokers, as to a lesser degree they still are.
So you might have expected “beer people” to rally round in solidarity with their oppressed brethren, even if they had some sympathy with the legislation. But no, the amount of bile, intolerance and hatred directed by many at smokers had to be seen to be believed. Even a bit of “we understand how you feel, but ultimately it’s all for the best” might have helped. But this negative attitude persists even now.
As we all know now, this dealt the pub trade a grievous blow, and the anti-smoking template is being increasingly applied to alcohol, food and soft drinks. Just as I and many others predicted. So not much evidence of an inclusive community there, let alone one capable of recognising its own interests.
(This replaces an earlier post which undermined the central point by including a long scattergun list of examples)