We like to ascribe so many positive things to good beer and those who love it we often forget that we make most of it up. We pretend brewers are rock stars. We pretend thinking about beer began (and sorta stopped) in the 1970s. But most of all we pretend people who make and enjoy craft beer are the sort of people we would like to hang out with. Really? Two morality plays for your consideration. First, Zak points out the tedium that one craft beer boor has put him through recently:
This post isn’t really about Chad, it’s about the idea that you have to reach a level of ‘beerdom’ in order to be allowed to drink certain types of beers. Sure, there are some beers that benefit from a little explanation, most sour beers and rauchbiers being the primary examples. But surely beer is a democratic, egalitarian drink that can be shared by everyone? Or do you disagree?
A great point that has attracted some comments but my point is not to highjack his discussion but to compare and contrast that situation to a second one that has been reported on by Jeff:
Don McIntosh of the NW Labor Press–a worker’s rights publication that’s not exactly neutral–has a devastating article about how Rogue Brewery treats its workers. The main issue is an effort to unionize Rogue that the management has aggressively fought. They have deployed tactics familiar to anyone who has followed labor relations in the US over the last 20 years–all legal by today’s laws. But worse than that, McIntosh paints the picture of a hostile work environment where management acts capriciously to ensure full compliance.
As Jeff points out, the tactics of Rogues he points out are likely within the law and the accuser is a labour publication – but the story is still pretty distasteful. So much so that I took the opportunity to not buy Rogue beer after work today, part of the LCBO’s summer brewery feature. I would ask you to consider making the same consideration – however you decide to act afterwards.
But, really, I would ask you to consider how craft beer may sometimes brings out the bully and why. For me, it boils down to one word: passion. Jeff points out the motto “Rogue is not for everyone” but we can take that a few ways. Either it can mean many can not handle their beer or, my preferred reading, the brewery is not egalitarian, is not for all people and, apparently, not for that part of its workers who don’t fall into lock step. “Passion” has that problem of being ultimately fairly meaningless and too often code word for my way or the highway. We’ve seen this sort of “passion” at work before with the bland “hooray for everything” attitude of trade associations, defensive niche hugging consumer group executives or senior brewery buffoons who believe good marketing include condescension. Spare me the passion.
And isn’t that really what Zak has had to deal with as well? Somehow, yet another self appointed craft beer person of importance awards himself the right to denigrate others, to be not for them. We’ve seen the self-appointed boor in action before. How many of them are there? How many bad boss craft brewers? Lord, how many? Certainly not anywhere near a majority. But is there any part of the beer culture that makes us celebrate the illusionary community without point out the individual arseholes amongst us in the crowd?
Wouldn’t it be nice if beer rating sites included a way to factor in how happy the workers are as part of the over all scoring? Wouldn’t it be nice in beer rating sites punished boors with pomposity points reminding us all to take their opinions with a very large grain of salt?