Sunday, 29 May 2011

Chief Kevin Monsters Bloggerati

Language is funny.

The current chair of the Campaign For Real Kevins decided to use his platform at the recent Kevin AGM to label beer bloggers a 'threat', as if by our sometimes inane scribblings, we might create a favourable climate for the Rise Of Keg and undo 40 years of Kevin activism.

Previously, Roger Protz, a senior Kevin who has a wider reputation in the world of beer thanks to his books and other writings, had declared himself dumbfounded by being asked about the Kevins' position on the new wave of keg beers being brewed in the UK. He called writers and bloggers 'noisome'. All good stuff, ladling on the pejoratives to marginalise those of us with an interest in beer strong enough to want to write about it.

The whole thing has developed a life of its own. Some bloggers are understandably upset about the comments from the platform of the Head Kevin, seemingly offered to his beardy, sandal-wearing activist base to give them an Aunt Sally to shy at should the matter come before them in the future. Some defend the Kevin position - if you aren't a Kevin, put up or shut up. If you are, have your say.

Here's the thing to me, though. The Kevin's don't own beer. I don't know if the Top Man said what he did to galvanise his people, kill any sniff of future debate or make bloggers the Aunt Sally. The Kevins are a Broad Church, insiders will say, there's room for all sorts of opinions. Well, so is the bloggerati - from properly published authors and writers to the enthusiastic amateur who writes a blog to work out their beery thing. And bloggers don't own beer either. We're all beer enthusiasts comfortable with different outlooks and beer experiences to drive our enthusiasm.

Cask beer isn't going anywhere, and that's fine by me. Like Martyn Cornell, some of my best beery moments have been around a pint of British cask. But I'm open-minded enough to want to explore other beer cultures and countries, to be interested in what our new wave of brewers are up to. It isn't some butterfly instinct that attracts me to new and shiny things. It's the reality that we're living in a New World of beer, some of it hundreds or thousands of miles away, some of it on the doorstep. Why would I restrict myself to a single form of dispense? It would be like poking an eye out.

The homogenised beer culture is dead and buried, its ashes scattered all over the Interwebs. Brewers talk, brewers travel and collaborate. The scene is exciting and dynamic, isn't it understandable that members of an organisation like The Kevins would want to see that recognised? Even Roger Protz has displayed a less strident view of global beer and brewing when there's been a pound note in it, as you will note from his 1994 tome 'The Ultimate Encyclopaedia Of Beer'. He positively gushes about Stella Artois, for instance.

Anyway, they won't do it. They've drawn a line in the sand and touched up the bullseye on their 'enemies'. My membership card will be in the post to S'Norbanzzzzz on Tuesday and they can refund the balance of my subscription. I assume freebie tickets to GBBF for bloggers will be out of the question this year, as well...


Tandleman said...

You seem to think you speak for bloggers Sid. I don't think so.

The rest of what you say is, as you put it so aptly, "inane dribbling".

Martyn Cornell said...

The joke is that beer bloggers - and I'm happy to admit it - have minimal influence in the real world, and yet the chairman of Camra expends much sound and fury having a go at us for our alleged crimes. Has he not got rather more important concerns in the fight against bad beer? I would suggest a few bloggers really ought to be not worth getting his knickers in a twist over.

Tandleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tandleman said...

About 2 and a half minutes in a two day conference. We should be pleased and the percentage seems about right.

Looks like the bloggers conference was barking up the wrong tree too.

Oh dear. It's all pointless - Official.

Sid Boggle said...

I don't speak for anybody but myself Tandie. 'Inane dribble'? Is that a new phrase out of the Kevin Playbook when referring to blogs?

Tandleman said...

Inane dribbling is what I do in the privacy of my own home. Inane scribbling is....

Tandleman said...

PS Can't speak for GBBF but Beer Bloggers can get trade tickets for NWAF with pleasure.

Pete Green said...

It's incredibly interesting that you mock Roger for "piling on the pejoratives" given that every sentence you write has an insult in it.

The fact that you haven't even done your research into what Colin actually said, but are happy to whale on him for promoting cask ale at a cask ale campaign's AGM is somewhat indicative of your prejudices in this sphere.

Sid Boggle said...

@Pete: Research? You mean the reported remarks in the June WB? Or the footage on RabidBarFly's blog?

He was promoting 'real ale', was he? How, by discussing the threats to it, including bloggers? His remarks were intemperate for the chair of a national consumer organisation, in my view. And I'll trade him insult for insult.

My prejudices? For the record, I think Camra need to update this - . I hear their TAG is looking at key kegs (where the gas doesn't come into contact with the beer); I never saw the TAG report on Fastcask (sunk without a trace outside of Marston's?) but the organisation was proclaiming it loudly on launch.

In the meantime, the world of beer is passing them by. They aren't relevant to me and my beer experience anymore (member for 12 years, worked at GBBF for 6 of the 12, lobbied MPs - not very active, but I did what I could) which is why I've resigned my membership. To Camra, I'm an enemy, and to me they're irrelevant now.

rapopoda said...

It's amusing to me that CAMRA choses to focus on the absolutely least interesting aspect in the great world of beer.
It's a bit like an organization of foodies focusing on plates

EyeChartBrew said...

+1 on Rap's comment.

Along those lines, why does it seem like all of the panty a'twisting over bloggers is the CAMRA's way of justifying their existence in a world that has mostly passed them by?

"If we pick on the bloggers, maybe folks won't notice that we don't do much else of importance any more..."