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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Colin Valentine on Beer Bloggers




The above video was originally uploaded to YouTube by a user called Alcofrolicchap here. It shows CAMRA chairman Colin Valentine sharing some of his views on the growing number of beer bloggers and their apparent views on beer. Generally I don't see the point in posting negative articles on this blog, I'm usually of the mind that if you don't have anything good to say then it's better to say nothing at all. Despite this, there are a few points that Colin makes that I feel an obligation to respond to. An obligation as a beer blogger and a member of, as he calls it, the "bloggerati". Far from attempting to create confrontation, this is an attempt to disprove some of the points Colin makes.


Colin Valentine says "the bloggerati are only interested in new things" and "the best beer they've ever had is the next one".

Well, here and here I talk about how much I like Worthington White Shield, a beer that dates back to 1829 and is often described as the oldest surviving IPA.

Zak Avery speaks here about Greene King Coronation Ale; a beer brewed once, in 1936, 75 years ago.

Mark Dredge writing about Pilsner Urquell, a beer that dates back to 1842, describes his experience whilst drinking it as “the most incredible drinking experience of my life so far”.

And here’s Pete Brown in a video blog about the oldest brewing competition in the world, one that dates back to 1886, a video blog that also focuses upon the brewing traditions of Burton upon Trent.


Colin Valentine argues that unlike "Real Ale", the term "Craft Beer" is worthless because it has no definition.

Is something meaningless until it has a solid definition? I don’t think so. “Craft Beer” is becoming a de facto standard term for beer brewed with skill and passion and with a focus on quality and flavour. It will never have an enforced definition because it isn’t the mission statement of an organisation. “Craft Beer” is a banner under which lovers of great beer operate; be it a professional in a brewery, an amateur brewing at home or a drinker with a glass in hand, an advocate of craft beer is a lover of beer that tastes great. EVERYTHING else about that beer is secondary.


Colin Valentine says "Craft beer changes not a jot between leaving the brewery and getting into the customer's glass and is served using CO2 and/or nitrogen. It is called KEG BEER".

Wrong. Here I talk about a pint of cask Thornbridge Jaipur that was so good it completely blew me away, whilst here I talk about Lovibonds Brewery and their range of fantastic keg beer. Leigh from “The Good Stuffwrites about enjoying Camden Town Pale Ale (Keg) and also Black Sheep Imperial Stout (cask). All of these beers are craft beers. I can only assume that Colin is attempting to describe filtered and pasteurised keg beer. The term "Craft Beer" is not applied based on the method of dispense, show me the blogger that disagrees and I’ll show you the blogger that’s in the minority.


Colin Valentine says "Forty years of achievement means nothing to them" and “all of these people want us to change and adopt their latest idea, not to try and start their own movement".

Relatively speaking, I’m a young beer drinker; I have no first hand experience of the 1970s and the crap keg beer that threatened to kill off cask ale. However, neither am I an idiot. I personally appreciate CAMRA and the work they have done, I’m able to understand the important role they’ve played in shaping the beer that’s available for me to drink today and I am grateful that cask ale is widely available in so many of my local pubs. Similarly, I understand the power and visibility that CAMRA has as an organisation, and for that reason I would like to see CAMRA more open to change. The beer landscape is different today than it was in 1975, not all kegged beer today is bad beer. I think CAMRA are in a unique position, the opportunity exists for the organisation’s tremendous work to be continued, but continued in the campaign for the promotion of great beer regardless of the method of dispense.

18 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

Two questions on that:

Which part of "Campaign for Real Ale" don't you understand?

and

Isn't it obvious that beer which comes from a keg isn't actually, really, ale?

Seriously, though: you do need an actual objective definition of "great beer" if you want any organisation to promote it.

Sam said...

Cheers mark, you have written what I have been thinking regarding the comments from Mr Valentine. Keg has changed but really this is irrelevant. If a keg or a cask beer can persuade someone to change their drinking habits to drinking great beer then it should not matter.

Mr Beer Nut.... It seems like you didn't even read Mark's post. You just looked for the parts which pissed you off.

Ed said...

Is the full speech online anywhere?

The Beer Nut said...

I did read all of it, Sam. It's a great post. I'm dubious about the notion of changing CAMRA's remit from anywhere except inside CAMRA (which isn't to say it can't be blogged about, of course -- but where are the dissenting posts from CAMRA's in-house bloggerati?), and I'm trying to make the point that if you want something other than CO2 derivation to be the centre of the campaign you have to find something better than "great beer" as a definition.

Over here, we do it on hectolitres.

Thomas said...

What don't you understand about real ale? That's not the point Mark is making. Mark is making a response to an idiotic sweeping statement made by a power-hungry Carma surpremo whom thinks bloggers, blogerati or blogarti are making in their blogs.

It's completely unfounded and unfair. We write about beers we enjoy. New old. Cask. Keg. Whatever. Providing the beer is BEST SERVED IN ITS OPTIMUM SERVING is the answer.

This is why the Ameircan beers were a little odd at GBBF. They were not made for the cask conditioned market. American brewers largely make beers for keg conditioning and no one is teaching them how to brew for cask.

Camra is very old and distorted. It seems some members think they are the holy grail. I've quit my membership this year as I'm antagonised by the lack of respect they have for brewers. It should be brewers selling and serving beer how they see fit, not Carma.

I agree that cask ale is awesome. But so is keg. Then we have shit beer too. The irony is the big regionals which Camra loves are also now using nitro keg. Camra are out of touch. Wake up.

Kristy said...

Great post (anything that shows love for Worthington's White Shield gets my vote obviously)!

It's not about misunderstanding what CAMRA stands for - more that CAMRA seem to misunderstand the world has moved on and they are woefully falling behind.

Should CAMRA start to promote keg beer? No, as you point out Beer Nut that's not what they're about but is the only way to promote cask by denegrating other beers absolutely not.

What Mr Valentine seems to have missed that if CAMRA want to celebrate another 40 years they need to embrace the "bloggerati" not alienate them, they can tell more people why CAMRA is bad than CAMRA can reach to say otherwise

Richard said...

To be fair to Colin, he did lay into the Supermarkets and PubCo's as well - legitimate grievances that CAMRA should be concentrating on.

Having a pop at the bloggerati is an easy win for him though - playing to the crowd a bit, I'll bet. What with Roger Protz doing the same last month, are they actually getting rattled though?

Maybe we're starting to make a difference. Great post, Mark

Tandleman said...

"It's not about misunderstanding what CAMRA stands for - more that CAMRA seem to misunderstand the world has moved on and they are woefully falling behind."

Not really. It's what some people would like to think. (-;

Tandleman said...

"Should CAMRA start to promote keg beer? No, as you point out Beer Nut that's not what they're about but is the only way to promote cask by denegrating other beers absolutely not."

Which is what I said in my Beer article, but we need to get away from the idea that all beers are good all of the time. Al cask isn't and all keg isn't.

Mark said...

Yeah, it's a fair point that they are the campaign for real ale. The point I was trying to make at the bottom of my post is that there's an opportunity for them to branch out now and campaign for the promotion of good beer not served from cask. If there is no appetite for doing that then fair point, a shame maybe, but fair point.

The problem comes (as Kristy points out so well) with the slating of ALL kegged beer. Why the need to promote cask in place of keg? It isn't the 1970s and not all keg beer is bad beer. By trying to argue that point you just show how out of touch you are.

I also agree that "craft beer" becomes difficult for an organisation to promote unless it has a formal definition. This comes back to my point about the mission statement etc - it might work now as something that people can understand and get behind but when you formalise the effort to promote it then you need a formal definition too.

The attack on beer bloggers is based on some assertions which are, simply put, wrong. Hopefully my blog post here made that point.

Richard, Sam: Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated. :)

Stig said...

"I've quit my membership this year as I'm antagonised by the lack of respect they have for brewers. It should be brewers selling and serving beer how they see fit, not Camra."

No, no it really shouldn't! That was what led to a need for CAMRA being formed in the first place.

Having said that, it's a consumer organisation which represents only a small part of my interest in beer, and seems to be quite against the rest, so in that respect I'm in agreement with Mark - great post.

Mark said...

Cheers Stig - Glad I managed to get my point across. :)

Tandleman said...

"The attack on beer bloggers is based on some assertions which are, simply put, wrong. Hopefully my blog post here made that point."

Unfortunately it didn't, but by selective quoting, it was one of the better attempts. It does however fail to address the drip drip of innuendo and pejorative insults by some bloggers and commenters that got us to this point.

If I could be arsed I'd go through blogs (particularly the comments) and show a different picture.

Ho Hum.

Mark said...

I don't think I did any selective quoting at all! The only parts I didn't really quote were around CAMRA just being a campaign for cask ale and nothing more. I thought I'd covered that in my closing point about a chance to promote good beer no matter what the method of dispense is. It's also covered in the comments.

Which parts did I selectively miss? Happy to cover those off here in the comments.

"It does however fail to address the drip drip of innuendo and pejorative insults by some bloggers and commenters that got us to this point"

Sounds like a school kid complaining that "heee started it". My opinion is that if you generalise and attack a group of people in the way that Colin Valentine did then you invite a rebutal; who started what arguement isn't something I want to get involved in. That rebutal might not have persuaded you, but I'm happy that it's a fair representation of the bloggers' side of the story.

Tandleman said...

I think a fair number of bloggers agree with or at least see Colin's point of view. So no, it can't be a fair representation of bloggers, or even those bloggers whose feelings have been hurt.

Still, we'll see if it takes us all forward a bit or not in due course.

Mark said...

"I think a fair number of bloggers agree with or at least see Colin's point of view."

Agree that "the bloggerati are only interested in new things" and "the best beer they've ever had is the next one"? Agree that the term "Craft Beer" is worthless? Agree that "Forty years of achievement means nothing"?

Really? Which ones? Can't say that that's the opinion I've gleaned from the blogs I read.

Tandleman said...

FFS!

Paul said...

I can't help feeling this fella feels threatened by something. Honestly, Get a life mate! Not all real ale is worth drinking. Just because it has the word 'real' infront of it, doesn't mean it has quality or isn't just something a bit esoteric. Just reminds me of some of those people who run other stale organisations like the RFU, FIFA and the FA! A little too wrapped up in themselves me thinks! Mine's a dog fish head please.