Thursday 23 July 2015

The Angelica Pickles of Beer Bloggery

Talks to both Babies and Grown Ups

The longer I do this thing, the more I become aware of the Generation Gap in the beer blogosphere.

On the one hand, there is the Crafty brigade. Usually about 25, urban, digital and social media savvy, highly educated and wanting to express their connoisseurship of everything they're into.  Tends to drink awesome juicy bangers at the local Craft Bar. Generally disparaging of traditional beer and pub culture as chapeau vieux (as they no doubt do not say in France). Run blogs with photos showing themselves and their alarmingly similar friends drinking Evil Keg at a big table.

On the other, there are the Veteran Pubgoers. Usually about 55. Been in CAMRA since the late 1970s. Can usually work Blogger and Twitter but not much else. Likes pubs on quiet afternoons to drink 4% brown bitter. Generally disparaging of Craft Beer as overhyped and unbalanced, and Craft bars as uncomfortable. Run blogs with photos showing themselves sat with a couple of friends at a country pub or biergarten in Germany.

But what strikes me most is how little there is in between.  Sure, there's Boak & Bailey who drink both the Evil Keg and the Boring Brown Bitter, but they're doing it for the record (and their blog will become an important historical document if some way is found to preserve it), rather than simple personal amusement. But what is being done my my generation, those around 40?

Possibly the reason is we came of drinking age in the early 1990s. There wasn't any Craft in those days, and even back then a 20 year old would have regarded Real Ale as a middle-aged man's drink. No, we drank Lager. And it seems a lot of us have stuck to it. Plus, most of us have families and careers and so have little time for bloggery and social mediasing.

As for me, I have no family and few commitments to speak of.  So, I can spare the time for this sort of thing. I'm young enough not to have the baggage against the Craft, but old enough not to be swept away with enthusiasm about how awesome it all is. Not being the greatest of social bunnies, too, helps me maintain a detached perspective on beer matters. No mutual reinforcing feedback loops for me.

As I always say, if you don't really fit in anywhere, then embrace your difference.


  1. You missed out an important point. Blatant beer careerism. (Even if you don't really know that much about it you can learn as you go along).

    Back in the day we left beer writing to Roger and one or two others. Roger, bless him is about 112 and there are large gaps in the market both appearing and about to appear journalistically. Blogging was for amateurs and for personal amusement. Now it is an appendage to blossoming your own career. Land grabs and jockeying for position rather than blogging for fun seem to me rather rampant now.

    Up to us old farts to be tongue in cheek. Beer's too serious for many for that. But then, they don't drink beer most of them. They taste it.

    1. Beer careerism - too right. There are certainly beer bloggers out there who remind you of Yosser out of Boys from the Black Stuff and his "Gizza job".

    2. Thankfully, no brewery or drinks publication in their right mind would offer me a job. I'd ruin their businesses by pissing off all their customers on Twitter.

  2. I feel very 'in between' too, although at 54 I'm in the old farts' age group! I've been a real ale drinker & CAMRA supporter for getting on for 40 years, but I only joined in 2011 - which is also around the time I finally started enjoying pale hoppy beers (after drinking them for several years, because it was all my local served). So I've been an enthusiast for either 40 years (Old Fart) or four (Craft Kid), depending how you look at it. I'm convinced that cask beer is better than the same beer on keg most of the time (Old Fart) but I keep trying the keg stuff, some of which I admit is really good (Craft Kid). And I run most of my social and professional life on the Tinternet... just like I did in 1996. You young people probably don't remember 1996. John Major, he was nice. Ooh, I could tell you some stories.

  3. "they don't drink beer most of them. They taste it."

    Very true, and you get the impression that some of them don't really get why ordinary people do drink beer. It's rather like in the old days (but far less so now) when you would find hi-fi buffs who would go on at great length about how their equipment rendered various sounds, but completely fail to demonstrate any emotional connection with the music.

    In many spheres you will find a dearth of people in the 30-50 age group, as during that period they're more preoccupied with careers, kids and houses. There are under-30s who still have youthful enthusiasm, and the over-50s who are able to become more reflective and also possibly have more time on their hands.

    It's interesting though, that as far as I'm aware there's nowhere in the blogosphere that you find the kind of doctrinaire "cask=good, keg=evil" views that often crop up in the letters page of What's Brewing.

  4. "But then, they don't drink beer most of them. They taste it."

    Weird, every time I go to a craft beer type place I see loads of liquid disappearing down throats. Very few spittoons. Am I going to the wrong places?

  5. Taking the mick out of both stereotypes and justifying your own detachment from both. Neatly done.

  6. "It's interesting though, that as far as I'm aware there's nowhere in the blogosphere that you find the kind of doctrinaire "cask=good, keg=evil" views that often crop up in the letters page of What's Brewing."

    Facebook is where it's at for that sort of thing.

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  8. Just as there is no substitute for drinking beers and learning which are good and which are not, you also have to learn which bloggers are worth paying attention to, and which are just freebie blaggers and/or clueless fanboys. It’s not really a generation gap, except inasmuch as age sometimes brings some people a little self-awareness. We could all do with learning to be more humble.