July 26, 2010

Let's Hope This Marks the End of "The End of History" Debate

So the stoat- and squirrel-clad beers fueled a firestorm of amateur punditry over the week, with lots of beer purists declaring their abject disdain and hatred for BrewDog's 55% "beer." I maintain that saying you'll never have one of their ipas because you dislike their publicity stunt isn't particularly enlightened, but hey, I can't eat Taco Bell any more because the ads are so unbelievably dumb. And because I believe the taco meat to be a petrochemical byproduct, but that's neither here nor there.

Two things to note, both self-selected to make my stance seem more reasonable: One is this well-written encouragement to chill by an author at The Full Pint, with which I totally agree. The other is the response by BrewDog owner James Watt on Beer Advocate (which has currently 503 replies). I would just like to pull three points that support the view I laid out in my analysis of the roadkill-as-label-art post (read: this might make me seem smart):

6) Custom taxidermy costs loads. We will loose money on every stoat we sell. Anyone who thinks that a business with 35 employees can get rich quick from 7 stoats and 4 squirrels is pretty naive...
11) With this beer we wanted to do something, quirky, edgy, innovative and different. We feel that by causing controversy, unsettling institutions and really pushing the envelope we can raise awareness for craft beer in the UK and get more dispassionate consumers starting the journey to towards becoming bonafide craft beer aficionados

12) We mess about with little things like this. Goofing around is our hobby. 99% of our time is spent aspiring to brew world class craft ales in the North East of Scotland. We want to start a craft beer revolution over here. This is pretty much all we care about.
So it wasn't for money, it was for an attempt to evoke a response, and it furthered an attempt to enact some societal change. That all sounds like art to me. And I wholeheartedly hope the rest of my craft beer brethren take it that way, because watching everyone infight like this is a little painful. Spirited, respectful debate is good, and there's lots to be had here, but a lot of the dialogue this past week (including Watt's missive, I should point out) was not at all respectful. Watching it is like watching one congregation of believers descend into war over the interpretation of one sentence in a holy text. Craft beer is a small world, and everyone in this debate is on the same anti-macrobrew side. Can't we just agree to disagree without saying we're done with every brewery that does something we don't like? Let's just put down the Haterade for a while, grab a couple pints, and discuss this like adults.

Okay, I'm done, I'll move onto more art tomorrow.

In the mean time, a few more links to share:
  • Erik Myers has some really nice analysis on what it is about BrewDog's branding efforts that have so divided the industry.
  • Jay Brooks found some really cool posters of fake beers by Erik Olsen.
  • Since I'm ranting today, I will take a moment to gloat over Mothers Against Drunk Driving's "D" grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy (go to the News Room on the link). Look, there's nothing wrong with being a mother, and one can not get more anti-drunk driving than I. But MADD 20 years ago turned into a corrupt, Marin-style neo-prohibitionist group that simply wants to eliminate alcohol. As someone who spent a lot of time working in nonprofits, I have little respect for the way that organization has perverted its once-noble mission and even less respect for the way they misuse their donors' dollars.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to the "D" rating for MADD. It's so strange how something that started out as a noble cause became something else entirely.