Friday, December 5, 2014

The Session: Who Do I Think I Am?


This month's Session is being hosted by Ding, and is based around the theme of who are we in our beer 'scene', or to put in in Ding's own words:
"So, where do you see yourself? Are you simply a cog in the commercial machine if you work for a brewery, store or distributor? Are you nothing more than an interested consumer? Are you JUST a consumer? Are you a beer evangelist? Are you a wannabe, beer ‘professional’? Are you a beer writer? All of the above? Some of the above? None of the above? Where do you fit, and how do you see your own role in the beer landscape?"
I am not really a fan of excessive introspection, which is perhaps odd for an introvert, but when I look at the beer milieu in which I find myself, it becomes clear that I have irons in plenty of fires.

Obviously I have this blog, which I have been writing since 2008, when I still lived in Prague and was delving into the wonderful world of Czech beer beyond the confines of Gambrinus. Writing this blog has afforded me lots of opportunities which I doubt I would have had without it; being invited to brewdays at breweries; working on recipes for breweries; being trusted to design and brew a beer for a local brewery. Would I have met as many interesting, informed, and knowledgeable people if it weren't for Fuggled? Some of the people I have met since I started Fuggled I am sure I would have met and become friends with anyway, but would I have had experiences like hearing people I had never met talk about how they went to that particular pub because of this blog they love called 'Fuggled', obviously not. Would I call myself a beer writer? I am not sure really, it is true I write about beer, and not just in this forum and medium, but it is something I do just because I enjoy writing, not something I do for a living, so I'll let others make that distinction.

If you've followed Fuggled for any length of time, you'll know that I also work for a brewery, Starr Hill Brewing in Crozet, just down the road from Charlottesville. I work in the tasting room, pouring flights, giving tours, talking about beer. It's work that I very much enjoy, especially when people comment about the 'gregarious Scotsman with a wry wit' who gives a great brewery tour. Working behind the bar often makes me wish I had my own pub, where I could have total freedom to run my bar as I saw fit (though I'd likely go bust pretty quick because I would probably serve almost exclusively real ale, which is a tricky sell over here).

Even a cursory following of Fuggled will tell you that I am a homebrewer, involved in my local homebrew club, and all that entails.

I am not someone who 'loves' beer or is 'passionate' about hops/malt/yeast. I have got over the ridiculous notion of youth that I need to go about bashing people over the head with a beer Bible and evangelise them into drinking 'craft beer'. Random side note, my favourite quote from the original Fever Pitch film is that football fans are 'like bloody missionaries, they bore you to death until you give in then they fuck off' - which actually sounds a lot like many a self proclaimed 'beer evangelist'.

So yes I brew, serve, and write about beer, but the most important thing in my opinion when it comes to my 'place' in the beer world is that I am a pubcentric beer drinker. I am a man who can think of nothing he would rather do than sit in a good pub, with a pint of something that meets my standards for good beer, with or without friends, and just enjoying the taste of well made, flavourful beer. I will do flights and samples mainly so I can find something I want a pint of, ticking and its online equivalents is not something I really understand.

So that's who I say I am, first and foremost I am a beer drinker. That I am an opinionated gobshite of a beer drinker is kind of secondary.

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