Natural Tensions

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...

11 thoughts on “Natural Tensions”

  1. Huh, missed that. Brilliant. As you say, it’s become very boring. I think everyone’s got BD’s message and chosen a side. (Or, like us, refused to choose a side because it’s a flipping brewery, not the War of the Roses.)

  2. Hmm, think your point about market saturation might be an interesting one.

    New craft brewers (for example 2 crackers in the Huddersfield area) face demand at a level they can’t supply. To get the beers you want you buy the beer before it’s brewed!

    Non craft “micros” are still sending reps out to try and sell the stocks of good, solid real ale which 5 years ago was considered very forward looking. Some of it is even golden, goddamit! They can’t understand why these pretentious craft beer bars don’t want to buy it. What the hell
    do these kids know about beer anyway. It’s the emperors new kegs. Yadda yadda yadda.

    In short it’s commercial jealousy bourne out of a misunderstanding about a new and emerging market.

    1. So there’s a “craft beer” market (growing) and a “real ale” market (static?) Figures.

  3. Depends on the situation between the brewer’s in question, and quite often questions about “craft” don’t have as much to do with it as the personal relationship between the brewers.

    I think I nearly got into this territory a few weeks back after relaying comments on this very blog made in a Chesterfield pub by a brewer about a rival brewery!

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