Is it bad that I have two breweries locally to me (under 3 miles) and neither would I ever drink. I'm all for local, but drinkable first?!
— Phil Lowry (@PhilLowry) July 9, 2014
On our recent travels ‘up country’, we asked a couple of fellow beer geeks in one city to tell us which local breweries were to be avoided, and both independently, without hesitation, named the same one.*
We were taken aback, then, when a friend told us it was his favourite. He is not a beer geek, but nor is he completely disinterested, so we tried the beer on his recommendation. “What do you think?” he asked. “Er…” we replied. What do you say in these situations? “It’s not really our kind of thing.”
In fact, it seemed seriously flawed and possibly infected. Our friend, meanwhile, was knocking the stuff back. “I like being able to drink something brewed just down the road,” he said between gulps. He either couldn’t taste the off-flavours or (more likely) they were overpowered by the satisfaction of having ‘shopped local’.
Elsewhere in the country, we discovered that another friend had bought an entire case of bottled beer from a local brewery because the owners seemed like nice guys, and they’d enjoyed the samples they were given. “I really like it. What do you think?” Once again, we squirmed.
But does it matter what we think? Whether the beer is well-made and tasty?
If enough people enjoy the warm feeling they get from buying it, and derive genuine pleasure from drinking it, despite our sneering, then maybe ‘local’ is enough to build a brewing business around after all.
* No, we’re not going to name names on the basis of one pint and some second-hand opinion…