Earlier today I tweeted this:
Another well-reasoned and thought-provoking piece by Tony Naylor – “Limited-edition beer: fool’s gold?” http://t.co/FOH7RbqZZq via @guardian
— Chris Hall (@cshallwriter) December 16, 2013
The article, by Tony Naylor on the Guardian’s Word of Mouth Blog, makes the case that limited edition beers are leading a trend of rising prices in the world of craft beer.
When I tweeted the link to it, I had scanned the piece and decided it made some good points. I didn’t like that it started out with its conclusion fully-formed, instead of reaching it by the end, though. Having said that, I enjoyed Naylor’s recent piece about crap pubs, and I think he touches on ideas and issues that matter to the nerdier among us, whilst also remaining accessible to normal, not-embarrassingly-excited-at-the-sight-of-foreign-keg-beer-they-haven’t-had-before sort of people. Beer being expensive? Sadfaces all round, right?
Naylor brushes aside quite a lot of important context (the cost of US/NZ hops, the real cost of maturing beer, duty on strength, retailer/pub prices, regional factors) and picks up, with jerking, twisting motions of angry, red hot pliers, the facts that support his argument. ‘These one-off beers are made by newer breweries, taking advantage of the rising interest in proper beer, and even by the oldies who want to look cool too. They’re all in on this big scam. Why aren’t they brewing proper cheap beer for the Honest Common Man of Noble, Simple Graft? Anyway, I keep buying them’ (slight paraphrasing).
When I tweeted the link, I described it as ‘well-reasoned and thought-provoking’. I said ‘well-reasoned’ because I sympathised with the sentiment of it, and thought he made his case well, despite not agreeing with it all. As for thought-provoking, well, here I am blogging about it. Not just it though, the reaction to it.
I read the article a couple more times over the course of the afternoon, certain that there was Something There I should be thinking about in greater detail. The thoughts never fully germinated. As I re-read it, I enjoyed it less and less, seeing a slightly greasy shine to it. I noticed other people on Twitter reacting to it angrily, seeing Naylor as someone who has flagrantly ignored a host of factors affecting the price of beer.
I even saw people get into rather shirty exchanges about ‘research’ and the importance of knowing what you are talking about. It’s all rather obvious to me now, of course, with 20/20 hindsight. This is what it was all for.
Is this the price of fame for craft beer in the UK – the ignominy of the national press’ websites drawing our clicks with half-baked pieces that are worse than regular blogs? Sadfaces all round.
2 thoughts on “Fool’s Gold”
I largely enjoy Tony’s pieces, but this one was backed by a pretty strange premise: beer should be cheap. No, it CAN be cheap, but there are hosts of reasons, as you say above, why sometimes it is not. Like you Chris, I’m also wondering if more mainstream media are beginning to look at issues such as this to drive people to comment on their sites. You could say that’s a sign that good beer is becoming more influential, and the ‘misunderstood’ phase will eventually lead to wider acceptance
(I was more annoyed by his throwaway line that barrel-ageing is a fad; don’t tell the folks up at Harviestoun, they might get the message after having done it for twenty years!)
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