Recalling the title of a Saves the Day album, that’s it, I am through being cool. I am declaring in writing through the pseudo permanence of the Internet that I am done. Please let me explain.
As I spend more time on my settlement visa in the UK, I continue to watch the rise of better beer, real ale and/or craft beer in this country. There is no doubt in my mind that the growth will continue. The amount of breweries opening in the last three years is staggering especially when you consider that the UK has had plenty of microbreweries around for decades. A lot of these new breweries are invoking the spirit of American Craft Beer in their products and ethos. It is exciting to be a witness and as a bar manager, a small part of this accelerating movement.
Unfortunately, like most things in America, another fad trend or culture if you will, has found its way across the pond to reach the British shores. Seemingly 5-10 years behind what horrible atrocities I first witnessed while living in Los Angeles, we now have perhaps an even greater force to reckon with, the British Hipster.
Perhaps we have no one to blame but ourselves, as in recent years much as been done to market craft beer to younger crowds and in the UK. These shock and awe tactics have been employed exponentially by BrewDog Ltd and those in a similar vein. One could argue that the course was inevitable, but not self-satisfied enough having already taken the fun out of music, art, film, coffee and food, we now have the Craft Beer Hipster in our venues sharing anecdotes of obscure breweries in New Zealand and beers blended from oysters marinated in bourbon and aged with three different woods and fermented on durian fruit, with coriander and lime salt (I just made that up, but once someone gets word, this beer will be attempted I am sure). The Craft Beer Hipster is always trying to find the next hip or unknown thing, quickly vacating more recognizable products with no real sense of quality or loyalty. The Craft Beer Hipster is quick to discount well-brewed traditional styles, traditional breweries and well-balanced beers or appreciate consistency.
It’s possible I am just getting old. I at least sound like a grumpy old man and I should just shut up and enjoy the growth and success of Craft Beer in the UK and throughout the world. But let’s be honest, there is nothing more British than having a good whinge and so let this be evidence of my efforts to assimilate with local customs. I, like most of us, appreciate this newfound excitement and energy that has been injected into the industry. In niche circles, craft beer has become trendy and hip! However, as I have recently been married and turned 30 years old, I have to accept that I am too busy and do not have the energy to devote to being “cool.” Those insecurities have left me long ago and no longer motivate my daily course of action. Let me be clear, this is not an anti-hipster rant, just an anti beer hipster rant. I do not appreciate beer snobbery either but that is for a different post.
You can try as hard as you want to make people think the Craft Beer community is cool but at the end of the day it’s a combination of art, culinary skill and manufacturing. Let’s face it, whether a pro brewer, home brewer, or beer lover, we are all freaks and geeks. I would argue that those in the craft beer community nerd out about yeast and malts just as much as train spotters discussing retired train engines. Oh what about Sam Calagione and Garret Marrero, they’re surf jocks, surely they have to be cool? No, have you listened to Sam give a beer presentation? Nerd. Greg Koch? Goatees were in when Limp Bizkit topped the charts, nerd. Jim Koch? Do I even have to answer the question? But Matt Brynildson has an epic beard? No. What about those “edgy” guys on the Brewing Network? Have you even seen what those guys look like?
Do you think Russian River would be one of the most sought after breweries in the world if Vinnie Cilurzo spent his time searching for moustache wax on ebay, sharpening straight razors, buying 90’s NBA jerseys, and snorting single plantation coffee? Hell no. He was part of a home brew club (QUAFF) in San Diego out-nerding his fellow beer geeks with his meticulous attention to detail at all points in the brewing process.
This is my manifesto, join me!:
I am passionate about craft beer, real ale, better beer or just any beer that tastes good.
I accept being this passionate about craft beer is not cool (being passionate about anything is nerdy to those who aren’t like-minded)
When people move on to fashion spirits, craft cocktails and ciders, I will still be pursuing my interest in craft beer.
By signing this, I am declaring that I am through being cool (therefore making me much cooler than everyone else).