Word of Mouth: How Do We Hunt Beer?
“….We have Twitter accounts and apps to tell us where the great, unusual beer is these days, but nothing beats word-of-mouth rumours and loyal patronage at The Right Places paying off with incredible beer“.
That was a comment left by Chris Hall (Rum & Reviews/The Beer Diary) on my recent post regarding Five Towns, a brewery that has produced consistently good beer for a while now and gained one of the best word-on-the-street followings that I can think of, without the aid of social media (until recently). He’s absolutely right, and his statement, in my opinion, captures the essence of beer hunting.
Even whilst typing, the phrase seems antiquated. Yet it’s the hunt that still keeps the fire alive for a lot of us. CAMRA Socials, Twissups, Beer Retailer Offers (such as boxes of beer on a certain theme), Crawls, festivals, or simply a quiet pint in a new pub ‘just to see what’s on’ is often not so much about the pint you end up with but seeing what choice you have. Me? I’m more often than not looking for something new, so that I can enjoy it – and then yes, tell people about it. That could be a tweet, or a blog post (if really good), or simply dropping the beer into my next related conversation with a buddy.
Being in the right place at the right time is massively rewarding as it brings the element of surprise into it. I recall after moving to my area a few years ago and finding Marble Pint on the bar of my local, nestled in between the usual faces of Saltaire, Copper Dragon, Leeds and Ilkley. I drank it all afternoon, and despite calling in pretty much weekly that summer, never seeing it again in that pub.
The circle then gets wider as a lot of pubs still do the ‘coming soon’ boards; when topped off with a recommendation from the landlord or bar staff, you’re more inclined to go back to try the beer in question. Many pubs I follow on Twitter now tweet these – which I do find useful – but does it take away a little of the process? Have you missed out on the trail of beer after beer, week after week, being fed tips from the pub in question? When this happens, you feel a little ‘inside the circle’, part of a secret. You’ve got a little insider knowledge.
I guess my point is this: is there a new breed of drinker who only visit pubs when they know something interesting (to them) is on the bar? A drinker who simply doesn’t visit pubs out of routine, as a social venue, thereby missing good ol’ word of mouth? Am I falling into the hoary (well, it seems hoary now) trap of making sweeping generalizations about beer hipsters? Or the younger end of the market?
Answers on a postcard, please. Actually no – just leave a comment.