Of course British brewing is not “one big happy family”.
We recently heard about an incident where the owner of a well-established small brewery got drunk and physically assaulted the head of a new ‘craft brewery’ he thought was muscling in on his territory.
We read this post in which a British real ale brewer kicks back against what he calls “the pretentious-isation” of beer — something which, although they wouldn’t necessarily call it that, is a key part of the business model for many new breweries.
On Twitter, we read cryptic comments from brewers slyly criticising the work of unnamed competitors. (Yes, competitors, despite the friendships and connections.)
And need barely mention The Scottish Brewery (many bloggers consider it bad luck to write their name before a performance…) and their frequent attacks on, or dismissals of, their peers.
That’s not to say there isn’t collaboration and community. We’ve heard first hand from small brewers about the help and advice they’ve had from other, better established breweries; and can you imagine the head baker at Warburton’s collaborating on a special bread with a small bakery in Cumbria?*
These tensions might become more apparent as the market reaches saturation point and, though they make sensitive punters like us squirm, they’re entirely natural and understandable. After all, many of the people involved have a lot at stake.
*This material previously released in an edited form on Twitter...