Believe it or not, we’re not completely stuck in the seventies, Life on Mars style: we’ve also spent a bit of time recently talking to the current generation of British brewers, and have a few more interviews scheduled. In particular, we’ve most recently been considering those parts of the industry which, if it hadn’t become a hated buzzword, we might have called ‘innovative’.
The critics are right, though — innovative isn’t the correct word, because there’s rarely anything new being done, even if it’s being presented differently. Let’s express it another way: we mean brewers who are producing beer for which there is apparently almost no market.
They’re making beer which hardly anyone has asked for; which most people won’t like; which will make some people downright angry; and cause many of their peers to look at them with raised eyebrows.
And yet… these brewers are paying the bills, it seems, and finding money to invest in their businesses too boot. They’re optimistic for the future and worrying less about finding new accounts than fulfilling outstanding orders while they await delivery of shiny new fermenting vessels. There was even tentative talk from one exhausted-looking brewer of taking a holiday abroad this year, for the first time in several years.
Maybe they can be likened to bands with ‘one thousand true fans‘? In his 2008 article of that name, Kevin Kelly suggested that was how many devotees a ‘creator’ needed to make a living.
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.
All breweries making freaky beer need to do is find the handful of freaks who will love it.