The more I read them, the more these continuing reactions to the cover of The New Yorker are making me cringe. I mean, really... do stamp collectors associate themselves so closely to stamp collecting that a representation of their hobby could evoke such emotion - especially emotions in the guise of analysis? It's the sort of thing that, if I am being honest, makes me want to distance myself from the whole thing. Or maybe I should say distance myself further. A person I respect a lot accused me this week of something, saying I "kinda hate everything lately- all you see are suckers, everywhere. For real man... It IS just beer..." He was, of course, right. But so was I. I have come to see things like that because they has become so entrenched in the hobby. Suckers of all sort. From pompous spokespersoning to big craft hucksters to self-consulting appointed gurus to rampant opportunistic inflation... good beer has been saddled with it all. The magazine cover has acted as some sort of Rorschach test that has drawn out craft beer's defenders and detractors in a way that has left me fed up with the lot. It tells me that somehow we have made it all so precious and difficult - even if in the image the incidental faces in the background just express simple pleasure. And to what end have these precious complications been imposed? Who does it serve?
Much to my shock and surprise, however, the new video ad for the beer industry in the UK above - and described here by Pete and by B+B here - actually enunciates another view of good beer which, for me, gives hope or at least a form of relief from those infected with a bad case of the cause. I watched it first last evening when the room was noisy and first really only followed the images. I kept thinking how scene followed scene I could agree with. Hell, the second last image even looks a lot like a shaker glass to me. The horror. You know, had I known in 2003 that good beer would take on all the characteristics the cover of The New Yorker and the responses to it exposed, I wonder if I would have spent a decade thinking and writing about it. What else could I have done with the spare time in that 20% of my life to date? The message in the video, however, is one I can buy into. It's accepting. It's a broad church with many pews. It's about the welcoming normalcy of beer even if the message is also that good beer is a worthwhile pleasure and should be pervasive. Good beer in the community. Not a "beer community" anywhere to be seen. And it doesn't just make me want to have a beer. It helps a bit to validate or maybe just place whatever all this is that I have been doing. Other things likely interest you. That's fine. But me? It makes me want to go figure out what John Cabot carried along in the hold as he sailed to North America in 1497. Because that is the sort of thing about beer that's interesting to me.
And I probably should have got to that a long time ago.