The culture of Craft beer will benefit from more declaring their ideas and intent for all to see.
A few months ago, the ownership at Scottish brewery BREWDOG put out what may easily be considered a monumental social media post that they entitled
NAILING OUR COLOURS TO THE MOTHER FUCKING MAST
TAKING A STAND FOR CRAFT BEER
In this missive James Watt and Martin Dickie, founders of BrewDog, list some notable sales/purchases of Craft breweries by bigger beer companies. They go on to examine the human fallout as well as impact that these sales have had on the companies in question. They mention the details of good people leaving these formerly good breweries as they are forced to change their culture and practices to fit the new structure that they fit within.
The BrewDog boys then went on to do far more than just offer lip service. They showed how they plan to add an amendment to their articles of incorporation as follows:
We are going to entrench our independence. We are going to call a meeting of our Equity Punk investors and propose an amendment to our articles of association. We intend to make 37.5 of the BrewDog plc articles read as follows:
37.5 “The Board will exercise its discretion granted in Article 37.1 to refuse to register any transfer of any Certificated Share to a transferee who is a monolithic purveyor of bland industrial beer.”
While some may or not agree with a late addition to the original post, it clearly is in keeping with the BrewDog ethos:
Craft brewers as well as craft beer drinkers are a close family. Spread the word about big beers buying up craft breweries, quit buying the new brewery beers. When the see their investments failing they will stop buying them. Consumers have more power than these cooperate idiots think.
At some point if you have a declared opinion, are in the public eye, if you run a business, if you influence trends, and yes even in you write about something, you should be willing to clearly define that idea, place it for all to see, and stand by it much like the titled idea of nailing the colours to the mast originally meant.
It was this idea in mind that I put together a presentation that I recently gave at the Regina based ALES Open beer competition.
By the end of the presentation I wanted to motivate others to help Craft beer, and to that end I gave some advice and tips on things to consider when talking, writing, consuming and even buying big beer. Upon reflection though, coupled with the feedback that I received, these points are really my own version of a mission statement of sorts in Craft beer, both writing and in my involvement in the culture.
A handful of ideals shape most of my interactions concerning beer. Below is the basic list with some of the reasoning behind them.
- Critical Thinking – Are claims made by oneself and others well examined, realistic, and achievable?
- Slaying sacred cows – Some ideas are more myth than reality (such as the IPA origin story) and these need to be put to pasture.
- Science Matters – Everyone has opinions, but they should be founded in reason and science whenever possible.
- Education and Experts are needed – Craft culture needs educated people to lead the wave of true Craft beer acceptance. The only folks that rail against education are those that need more of it.
- Commit to the idea – If you’d say it over a pint, it’s worth considering further. Put it in writing, explain it and consider arguments against your position. Unexpressed ideas aren’t a benefit to anyone.
- Speak the rarely said – New or unpopular perspectives may benefit from added discussion to bring them into the forefront. Lend them a hand.
All of these elements are pieces that are fueled and informed by a few core principles that I would encourage anyone involved in Craft beer culture to follow.
- Challenge the status quo – Just because something has been a particular way for a long time doesn’t mean it is good, only that it is old. Ideas and cultures need updating and change over time.
- Raise the level of discourse – Its time to move beyond initial thoughts and move into nuanced discussion on the multiple facets of Craft beer.
- Educate – Its is easy to criticize an idea, product or practice. In the long run though it is far better to educate people to alternative ways of thinking and acting.
- Lead – To lead can be a lonely path, yet Craft beer needs leaders in thought, action and experience/education. Be one.
- Demand better – In all things, we can always ask for better. Perfection is rarely attained, but there is nothing wrong in trying to achieve it. There is far too much average in Craft.
I’ve nailed my colours to the mast, and its both freeing and terrifying. Isn’t it time for you to do the same? Craft beer can only benefit from more doing so.