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:

Comments are closed.