a call for civility
I am Tom Cannavan, publisher of beer-pages.com, including Roger's blog. For my living I write about wine and publish my website wine-pages.com, which has been on the go since 1995. Wine is my area of expertise, and although I love beer too, I am definitely not an expert. So when I had the idea of starting beer-pages in 2004 I knew I had to find the right person as my contributing editor. I count myself as incredibly lucky when Roger agreed to bring his experience, knowledge and passion for quality beer to the site.
I had completely missed Roger's post on BrewDog and the controversy it has provoked because I am on the final day of a 12 day tour of the vineyards of Chile (lovely bottle of Kross chocolate stout last night in a place called Akarana in Santiago). When I finally got a chance to log on and see Roger's post and the 30-odd replies to it this morning, I confess I was really quite shocked and saddened.
Roger's post was ill-advised. He is a guy who is passionate about beer and has spent most of his life defending beer, beer drinkers and brewers from various forces that have worked against them. I know Roger, and am certain his post was not trying to be clever or controversial, it was simply a bit of a gut reaction.
Roger should have checked his facts. I also agree he has missed the point that a £30 bottle of beer has got absolutely zero to do with the hysterical reaction of some people, even if it does have 32% ABV. The points about this being lower alcohol, a smaller bottle and having a higher price than hundreds of spirits on the market is well made and well taken. BrewDog are pretty blameless in this respect.
But Blog's are not places for carefully researched and analysed writings. The spirit of the blog is to talk freely about subjects that raise your blood pressure a little and express opinions. Yes, Roger got this blog post wrong in some ways, but the reaction from many anonymous and semi-anonymous posters has been unkind and unfair.
Roger attacked BrewDog's egos and 'naked ambition' and called them 'bonkers' in his headline. That is something that could be debated long and hard over a pint - I love many BrewDog beers, but I cringe at some of their promotional stunts, and it is obviously a company that puts itself out there to court such controversy (and the publicity it generates) very deliberately. But the responses to Roger have included many personal attacks on his integrity, competence, age and motives, all of which are unfair and unfounded.
I think an awful lot of people in the UK will acknowledge the enormous contribution Roger has made to beer - not just CAMRA and their ideals - over decades. I don't think a post in a blog - a pretty rubbish post in many ways (sorry Roger) - is any reason or excuse to forget that or for some of the reactions and language used here.
Please let us keep this civil and debate the points about the beer, the brewery, the fact that Roger may have missed the point, etc in a constructive and civilised manner. Roger may not be a brewer, but he is a thoroughly decent bloke who loves beer, knows a hell of a lot about it and would have a knighthood for his services to it if he wasn't such an anti-royalist.