Anatomy of a Rumour

Illustration: rumours flow into a human ear.

If you are at all engaged with beer social media, you will be aware that there have been rumours, or at least rumours of rumours.

Though we don’t recall signing up to a code of ethics on this, there are certainly good reasons to be cagy about sharing or discussing such rumours.

First, there’s the risk of things getting a bit ‘lawyery’. We don’t know if this is a real issue, or a borrowed trouble, but who wants to find out the hard way?

Then there’s the question of people’s feelings. Imagine you’re negotiating the sale of your company but haven’t finalised the deal; there’s a non-disclosure agreement in place so you can’t tell your team anything until it’s done; and, anyway, you wouldn’t want to say anything in case it falls through at the last minute. Then imagine how those team members feel learning the news from Twitter, or on some poxy beer blog.

The American food reporter Farley Elliott recently described how, in the early days of his career, he would sometimes turn up at restaurants he had heard were closing down and, over-eager in making his enquiries, accidentally break the news to frontline staff that they were about to lose their jobs. He felt bad, they felt bad… There are better ways.

Finally, there’s the risk of embarrassing yourself if the rumoured takeover doesn’t happen. Rumours are just rumours, and are sometimes just lies. Five or so years ago, we heard a cast-iron rumour of a takeover that was definitely about to happen at any minute now… but didn’t. And still hasn’t.

And anyway, unless you are working for an outlet that thrives on scoops – that relies on being first with the breaking news – there’s no particular need for anyone in beer to be rushing to talk about this stuff.

The only difference a rumour makes, really, is that it allows time to mentally prepare. It can be a jolt to learn that a brewery you like or are interested in has been taken over when 300 hot-take Tweets land within a minute of each other.

Given how things are, though, shouldn’t we all be mentally prepared, all the time, for any brewery of decent size and market reach to sell up? We all know how to spot the pre-eruption tremors these days.

Sure, we’ll still jump when the balloon pops, but at least by now we’ve learned to discern the balloon, and to see someone standing there with pin in hand, grinning, waiting.

7 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Rumour”

  1. Two things about rumours;
    1, the only thing faster than the speed of light is how quickly a rumour travels.
    2, a few years ago I started one, it was picked up by at least one respected beer writer to say they had heard it as well, it had a little traction for a few days before fading out. And just to confirm it, there are no plans for a major launch of Red Barrel.

  2. I heard Boak and Bailey were in acquisition talks with Anheuser-Busch InBev, but I figured you were probably more like to do a deal with Kirin and I don’t want to start a rumour….

  3. Haven’t heard a thing, but my low expectations are duly lowered. I hate takeovers – can’t see a single thing good about them.

  4. I’m only on twitter to keep up with new beer releases and I hadn’t heard any rumours.

    I had to go searching for the context for this, took me about 5 minutes to find references.

    Starting to wonder if i’m following the right people….

  5. I definitely don’t follow the “right” people so I have no idea what the rumour is.
    As long as it isn’t Harvey’s I don’t care all that much which breweries sell out.

  6. So there was news, and it was bad. (Except for the brewers themselves, and fair play to them – but I’m not into small businesses, I’m into beer.)

    I first had Magic Rock Curious (now Ringmaster) in 2011, which I realise now was not long after the brewery opened. I’d recently started blogging, and described it as not so much “hop-forward in the modern style” as “hops smacking you about the face, in the style of a demented alcoholic Tango advert”. Without getting too pretentious, it was one of those pints that you just never forget.

    (Never really got into Cannonball, though.)

  7. Very disappointed to hear this news. One of my favourite breweries over recent years definitely. Who’s next?

    On an unrelated note I thought many readers of the blog would be interested in this petition to save a great London pub from losing its character: https://www.change.org/p/save-coach-soho?recruiter=210127876&utm_source=share_petition&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi.pacific_post_sap_share_gmail_abi.gmail_abi&utm_medium=whatsapp&utm_content=washarecopy_14209905_en-GB%3Av7&recruited_by_id=c5747950-9a30-11e4-8a34-c53316d687cc

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