In Defence of a Hashtag

Last July, I had a schoolboyish whinge. You can read that HERE (but you REALLY need to have nothing better to do!). The whine was about the use of the word “facile” by the blogging powerhouses that are Boak & Bailey. I got that. Facile was probably spot on to be fair, in so far as their experience is far broader than mine. I quote

“Of course beer is a business like any other – Richard Burhouse says it is ‘naive that people think breweries wouldn’t want to protect their brands’ – but for consumers who have bought into the admittedly facile mantra that ‘beer people are good people’, and an ideal of community co-operation between ‘little guys’, it is rather saddening.”

Spot on. (Click the hyperlink for the – admittedly ENORMOUS – whole post)

The above was a reference to the phrase “Beer People Are Good People” and the ensuing hashtag, which (and I’m not a boastful kind of fella – ask around) I kind of put out there. And I continue to do so. Unashamedly.

It is – I suppose – my truth.

It’s been sad to note that there has been quite a lot of carping and piss taking in certain circles recently about that there hashtag. I shouldn’t take it personally I suppose, because it almost certainly isn’t aimed at me. But, like a big kid, I do.

It stings a little.

I suppose this is a bit like the title of a certain Manic Street Preachers album* – but, different people have different stories to tell. That is the essence of blogging I suppose. That, and opinion.

Now. I’ve never claimed to be smartest of cookies. I certainly never went to university (“never took a paper or a learning degree”) and envy those who are much better with words than I. I’m not deep. I’m fairly thin skinned too, which is one of the reasons why I pop 5mg of Amlopodine each and every day. That and being overweight.

But, you know, over the last 3 1/2 years or so, I’ve made a lot of friends in this beer world. These are – to me – good people. I don’t come across snarkiness or bitching. What I see is co-operation. People helping each other and working together.

Did you think that I REALLY put on two beer festivals on my own? It took the help of a huge number of people with goodwill, love and kindness. A whole lot of people giving up time and money to put on a show. It’s things and people like this that help me. There are some bloody good people knocking around Manchester and the North. I love them. I truly do. And that isn’t just words.

I get too emotional. I’ve always said that when this stops being fun, I’ll quit. So I’ll stop here.

#BeerPeopleAreGoodPeople Especially where I come from and in the beery milieu that I frequent.

This is MY truth. If yours is different, there’s a comments section.

This is the thin skinned one signing out.

(*”This Is My Truth. Tell Me Yours” was a quote by the great Labour politician Aneurin Bevan. Appropriated by The Manics for the title of their 5th studio album. We need more people like Bevan.)


9 comments on “In Defence of a Hashtag

  1. Mate. You’ve no need to fear people’s daftness about “your” phrase. It’s their problem not yours. My life is better with you in it, and I know many other’s lives are too. We all love to come and help you out at “our” festival. I know it’s a highlight of my year.

    And I’m not even from Manchester or “The North”.

    Big hugs. As always buddy.

  2. “Carping and piss taking” is uncalled for, whether you actually agree with the sentiment or not. For me personally, actually I don’t totally (and as you said above, if your truth is different there’s a comments section!) because although I have met some amazing people, who I sometimes owe a great deal to, or am just proud to call friends, I’ve also had the flipside of meeting some of the biggest c***s I’ll ever have the misfortune to have known. So I have to caveat your noble phrase with an “often”.

    Just for the record, I’m not counting you in that latter category 🙂

  3. It’s always lovely to hear stories of people coming together to help put on beer festivals and other events. Of course this wouldn’t be possible without a love and enthusiasm for beer and the generosity to give up free time to allow others to have a nice time at the festival. No amount of criticism of the ‘beer people are good people’ mantra can deny that you, myself and others have experienced the kindness and generosity that exists in the beer industry. Any attack on the phrase is not an attack on you, me or any of the positive experiences we have had. So with that in mind, I’m going to tell you a bit of ‘my truth’ and why for me the phrase really sticks in the throat.

    In all honesty, I am one of the people that says ‘beer people are good people’ dripping in so much sarcasm you can practically see it oozing off the words as they come out of my mouth. Again, to reiterate, this is not to deny the fact that you or I have had some great experiences in the beer industry but is more a problem with the assumption. The phrase implies that all beer people are automatically good people and perhaps as an unspoken caveat – unless proven otherwise. I can see how yourself and others who regularly use the phrase have arrived at this and it’s wonderful that you have had such a positive experience with beer and the people that are involved with it. However the assumption that ‘beer people are good people’ betrays a singular perspective, one made from a position of (usually, straight white male) privilege where it is possible and reasonable to make that assumption. In repeating the phrase everywhere it denies the experiences of people who do not have that same privilege, who cannot go into a festival or bar or brewery and assume that these people have got our backs.

    I don’t particularly want to go into detail about my own specific experiences here as I have done ad nauseam elsewhere (as well as having to actually live it every day – it gets tiring). Suffice to say that pretty much every homophobic experience I have had in the beer world has been left unquestioned by the majority of those around me. Even after the major ones which have severely affected where I drink and how safe I feel, I have been faced with a wall of near silence. The few friends that did send messages of support mostly went on to ignore the problems that exist regardless (and part of me questions whether they would have sent messages of support at all if they weren’t already my friends). Why? Because they can, because they don’t have to confront them, because most people in the beer world have the privilege of only being able to see it from one safe perspective where they see a few bad things and not a deep rooted cultural problem. If beer people are good people, why has experience taught me and my boyfriend not to hold hands in pubs? Why has calling out instances of homophobia caused me more problems than it has solved? Myself and many of my queer friends have learnt that the beer world does not have our backs and sometimes it feels like it never will. So when I hear the phrase ‘beer people are good people’ it does not just deny the shitty experiences myself and others have consistently had but it reinforces what is in my experience, an outright lie.

    Of course I have only mentioned the things that I know from experience, I’m sure many women, trans people and people of colour will have their own stories which show not just a few dickheads but systematic shittyness. I understand and sympathise with how you and others have come to the conclusion that beer people are good people and I’m jealous that you’ve had such nice experiences but it is dangerous to assume that this is the only way the beer industry is experienced. It isn’t. So are beer people good people? In my experience no. But that doesn’t mean that beer people are bad people either. There are cultural problems the beer world needs to face up to and in my opinion the longer we assume that beer people are good people the deeper we bury our heads in the sand.

    • How could I NOT approve such a comment?

      Our experiences are patently different. And that saddens me. When you started to reference gender & sexual preference, I started to bridle – then read on.

      You can see my position from what I have written. I am, myself, white and malt. My preferences are my own concern, but the world within which I move (in Manchester) I have found to be profoundly inclusive, across gender, race & preference. I obviously – given your comments – move in small circles.

      The World is loaded with shits. YOU have encountered some, whereas I (as of yet) haven’t.

      I will give consideration to altering that # in the light of what you have said.

      No offence intended and – I presume – non taken.

  4. Perhaps it should be #GoodPeopleAreBeerPeople because I have got to meet some really excellent people since writing about beer to the extent that all of my best friends are beer drinkers and embrace all that is good and social about it. Being active in CAMRA I do meet a few idiots to be honest particularly at festivals but even here they are in a minority and I just ignore them. I think ‘good people’ gravitate to like-minded individuals and I like to think we both come under that category. You certainly do mate !! Keep on what you are doing with that smile on your face.

    • Thank you Glenn. And likewise. I accept the point that there are bad people in beer. People who are no doubt unpleasant. But that is not my experience.

      That said, I had to laugh at the old (and I am assuming here!) CAMRA boy utterly ranting about extraneous pressure in Key Keg. I was nearly in tears watching organisers trying to explain. And failing to get through!

  5. Pingback: A Heartful of Why – The End of The Beginning?  | BeersManchester

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.