It has been a relatively feisty start to 2014 within the world of beer blogging - well at least a small segment of it. That's noticeable for its unusualness and even then it is relatively minor compared to the flame wars I used to be involved in pre blogging days. Oh yes, I wrote about beer, at least in some form, from way back in the 1990's. When I started blogging back in 2007 I kind of carried on from these old days. What old days I hear some ask? The old days of Usenet where, from the 1990's, we discussed the beery agendas of the day, in rather less cordial terms (at times at least) than the moderate and well mannered thing that most beer blogging has evolved into. When I started blogging I kind of thought that it was a platform for the opinionated, for the the frustrated writer, for those that felt they had something to offer from their point of view. I think blogging did start out that way and no doubt some still is, but now would I be that far off the mark to say that the beer blogging scene for one has become for the most part, a bit cosy?
Anyway, enough of that for now and back to the point of the less than cosy - and therefore all the more remarkable - situation of two of our best known British beer bloggers getting a bit of flak. I am not sure of the sequence, but one is far easier to discuss than the other. Boak and Bailey got some (undeserved) stick about being less than fulsome in their praise of the quality of a product. Then they were unjustifiably criticised about the way they handled that dissatisfaction from some other rather hostile commentators. This evolved into a long rule ridden debate about what you should do about either a bad beer - one that is off - and one that you simply didn't like. So far, so good, but what strikes me about this is that almost no-one that I can recall said that most simple of things "Tell it how it is." One thing is pretty certain. When you make an offer to the public, the public is free to comment honestly on how that offer was at the time. The customer is under no obligation to give the vendor a chance to redeem themselves after the transaction has been made, unless they choose to do so. Personal confrontation is not what you go out for in most cases. That doesn't mean you spend time later slagging people off willy nilly and of course there are ways of saying it nicely and contextualising it, but if you think the whole experience was poor, or that a particular brewery doesn't do it for you or is poor, you should feel free to say so. It would surely always be a situation that you really feel strongly about, otherwise why would you do so? For the vendor it is also useful feedback, even if at the time, you don't care to hear it or disagree with it.
Now to another Bailey. Dave Bailey got into a lot of trouble by discussing the subject of women in pubs and in beer. If that's not where angels fear to tread, I don't know what is. I won't be following in his footsteps, but what was noticeable is that his honesty (if that is the word) was not appreciated and that is perhaps the common thread, though the two cases are really only linked by my observation in my opening sentence. Nonetheless it was remarkable to see this somewhat snug world rocked slightly. It reminds us that opinions of any situation vary greatly. Nonetheless, stating yours, while difficult and uncomfortable at times and even with the undoubted potential for backfire, egg on face or humbling, is still a valid blogging approach.
Opinions are good. Let's not be too afraid of them.
It may not be noticed by many, but I offer a right of reply against my opinions of people or places. No-one has ever taken it up.
Update: This post now has a slight edit to make it clear B&B also got undeserved flak from commentators to their blog.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
Read my information and links and then decide for yourself. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes.
If you wish to email me you can do so by using this address: tandleman[at]yahoo.co.uk
These are the life blood of any blog. Please feel free to comment. I do not practice censorship if you stick to the point, but personal insults are frowned upon and may result in deletion. Anonymous entries may have the piss taken out of them or be deleted.
Beer samples are welcome, but I cannot guarantee a good review. You, the brewer, on the other hand can.
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