Beer is fun. Yes, of course it is. Chief among the reasons for consuming the liquid are for its pleasurable, fun, attributes.
But let’s be clear, we’re all fooling ourselves if we take the view that beer is just about fun because running much more deeply in the beer world is business. Beer is money. It’s an industry fundamentally no different to oil, pharmaceuticals.
A product is produced by people who have committed funds to the enterprise and it is sold for money – with a view of at least breaking-even and ideally hitting profitability. Beer is a commodity. It might be more fun to drink than oil or an Alka Seltzer but it is all about business and money. Without this it does not exist.
Personally I’m involved in a brewery as co-owner of Bohem Brewery and I’ll admit it is great fun. But it’s clear: between me, the other shareholders, and the co-founders we are all fully aware that this is business and there is money involved.
Brewdog has banged on about its little-man credentials, how it is fighting it out with money-obsessed big brewers, and how it is vehemently against cashing in. Well that’s the story peddled to the thousands of Equity for Punks (of which I am one).
Meanwhile they will cut deals with Tesco and sell stakes in the business to private equity investors and crow about the £1 billion valuation of the business. The early shareholders and two co-founders have taken £100 million off the table through such actions, which absolutely shows that fundamentally Brewdog has always been about the money.
With money there undoubtedly come some unsavoury aspects. Greed, lies, deceit, theft etc…As adults we know this is the case. So why try to paint things as being hunky dory in beer land. This is surely naive.
It’s even worse if you make an effort to push things under the carpet, kick the can down the road and ignore important but painful issues.
I’ve been accused of this myself recently with a piece on Good Beer Hunting that painted a story about the launch of Deviant & Dandy Brewery as apparently peddling some sort of conspiracy theory. There’s no need to call out tough stories as lies just because they do not adhere to the beer-is-fun narrative.
Much of the craft beer world is growing up in the UK right now and the harsh reality is that with maturity come a few things that aren’t fun. That’s not to say beer cannot be light-hearted but it is not all about that.
Glynn Davis, editor or Beer Insider