Monthly Archives: October 2018

Which beer festival is the best?

As a family we would often take our hols late in the season. Meaning that at work I’d sit through weeks and months of others jetting off into the sunshine to enjoy themselves. I sit at work wishing my holiday would hurry up and arrive.

This years abit different. We have no holiday plans due to moving house. However, I’ve gone through a very similar feeling week after week but down to watching everyone attend brilliant looking beer festivals! All the while knowing that I had Craft Beer Calling to look forward to, but it felt a long way off!

Well it’s no longer a long way off, it’s here next weekend! And I can’t bloomin wait!

I have had a few people ask me over the years which is the best beer festival and I’ve always ummed and ahhed over the details and the differences between them, when in all honesty they’re 75% the same. The beers will all vary, but you know what styles will be pouring. The venues are all very different but all have largely similar functions.

The differences become the characters of each festival. Indyman character feels asif it’s very much driven by the atmosphere, which feels like its sculpted by the aura of the building. There are many other brilliant venues which impart their own auras on the proceedings. The Palace of Arts in Newcastle brings its own ethos to Craft Beer Calling.

But for me, the thing which determines how I feel about festivals is the people. Firstly the nature of the people organising, second the nature of the people attending and thirdly, the people who I go with and spend my time with. Now Craft Beer Calling has grown up over the years. I don’t necessarily think it’s become that much bigger in volume, buts definitely grown in stature. And as a result the crowd is now more diverse. When it first moved to the Palace of Arts it kinda set its stall out for what it wanted to become. The locals loved it, but that allowed word to spread further afield which draws people from outside the region in to sample its delights. This is the very core of what a festival of this magnitude should do. Anything which brings folk from outside the region in to spend their coin here is a huge benefit to us all.

So what of the best beer festival? Well the truth is, there isn’t one. It’s the best one for you. It’s the one which gives you the best experience and that experience is significantly impacted by who you go with and who you meet when you’re there. These are things totally outside the organisers control but make a massive difference to how you perceive that festival.

I guess a large part of the charm of Craft Beer Calling is the localness of it. I know I’ll know a lot of people there. I usually go along to sessions on my own, and never find myself not knowing anyone. It’s also a very friendly festival. It’s a very welcoming crowd.

I have to say o can’t wait to get in there again!

So who’s coming out to play?

Sexism in the beer industry: Let them be heard

Ok, so here goes. First post for a while and not an easy subject to write about, but I can’t help feeling like there are certain aspects of the sexism in the beer industry debate which aren’t being said.

Firstly, I’ve seen a few events now which are aimed at addressing sexism by appealing to a female audience. Great, I’m all for that. Let’s grow the market and show that there really is a beer for everyone and, more importantly, room at the table for everyone who wants in. The sector will be much better off if it’s as open and accessible to everyone, no matter what height, weight, nationality, age, oh yes and gender, you are.

However, there have been a few events, aimed at encouraging a female audience which have been made female only. Am I the only one who sees the flaw in this? I can only imagine that the organisers think that by banning all men, they guarantee the sexist few men won’t be there to make the women feel uncomfortable. All I can think is, what a shame.

Personally I think we should be encouraging an ethos of men and women going to pubs together and more than that, families all going together. Creating a place where people are respectful of others and everyone is used to being in a rich diverse crowd full of vibrant chatter and colour, where conversation is unpredictable but always stimulating and enriching.

I would encourage all efforts to raise the profile of women in the industry. The vast range of beers available today are a reflection of the vast array of people who work in the industry which produces them.

I guess what I’m saying is the best way to make the idiots who seek to belittle those who have any perceived differences to their own image of perfection, is to repeatedly show them that a diverse crowd is the norm. Encourage openness, encourage interaction. Don’t ban people.

One other factor in the sexism debate, and one which I think is a real shame, is that I’ve heard a lot of men say, when the issue of sexism is brought up, that they’re not getting involved. They don’t want to say anything out of fear of offending people or having their comments misconstrued. Well fear should never be allowed to prevent positive steps. And I’ve no doubt there are women out there who also back away from voicing their opinion for fear of an over-reaction.

Again, I think it’s important that voices are heard. These people aren’t sexist in any way, so don’t let the only voices be the sexist few or the anti-sexism campaigners. Let’s encourage voices and actions from every element in the industry. Which I guess needs two things. Firstly, don’t be afraid of making your voice heard. That means say what you really think, not just what you think won’t offend. But also, I would encourage everyone to consider how they react to comments. Let’s not jump down the throats of well intended comments, granted there are always those who will be worthy of a strong robust response, but let’s not discourage (literally meaning taking away their courage) honest, decent folk from voicing opinions. As a society we operate best when all voices are heard and a sensible middle view of acceptability is found.