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Beauty and the World Wide Beast

I’ve written briefly about my localist of local micro-breweries before – the Millstone Brewery, Mossley. I have ranked them in my top 3 favourite breweries for nearly 7 years and have enjoyed their great beers, mainly locally, without deeper thought in all this time.

But, something changed the other day. I was in Stalybridge Buffet Bar and had a pint of Millstone’s famed Tiger Rut and it was, as they say, on terrific form. Light but full of flavour, a fresh melon-like aroma, a great hoppy hit with a satisfyingly bitter aftertaste, everything I’ve grown accustomed to in the years past. The only difference was my natural reaction to this delicious beer was to reach for my phone. Why? Well any users of Twitter probably know.

There’s nothing wrong with Twitter. I love Twitter. I love having a little beery community to share my thoughts/rants with about beer, rather than drilling into the brain cells of my lager obsessed Gump friends. And I’ve certainly no problem with breweries using social media as an advertising tool. Brewing is business after all. But when did this become my natural reaction to drinking beer?

There are some newish breweries who have played the social media game well. Without resorting to slander, I’ll just say that certain beer makers have certainly become over-hyped amongst certain beer folk simply because they have a highly active Twitter account. They’ve used it to great advantage, knowing that conversing with their followers, and even giving them that committed follow back, will helpfully increase their beer sales as people scramble to be the first to sup their brews and practically scream out “RETWEET ME! RETWEET ME!”

I still maintain that the hunt for beer is part of the enjoyment and it is part of the reason why I don’t make orders directly from breweries. Dare I ask, what’s the point? When a brewery, who’s beers I love, tweet the world to announce they’ve a great new beer out my reaction is “Brilliant, I’ll keep a look out for it,” and then I get that great thrill upon finding it and trying it. And preferably this will happen IN A PUB, seeing as that is who we are supposed to be supporting.  My reaction is never “Great, I’ll order some from your online shop, then I know I get to try it, in front of my fireplace, and can tweet you all about it.” This is why Twitter has created a playground effect in some areas. This idea that “Oh haven’t you tried that beer yet? I tried it the day it came out,” as if I’m from the family who couldn’t afford Kickers so had to have US Brass shoes instead.  

Millstone Brewery doesn’t have a Twitter account and, on the aforementioned day, I was disappointed that I couldn’t tell them how much I was enjoying their Tiger Rut. But Millstone is, with the greatest of respect, an unambitious company. They explained, at a recent Meet the Brewer event, that they have no plans to expand, despite showing terrific sales in the establishments they do provide to and are returning to more traditional brews, despite the fact that they have been consistently making very hoppy and delicious beers that some of these newbie brewers could only dream of.

Their seeming lack of ambition frustrates me. I’d love to become their marketing executive and I’m sure I could double sales overnight if I was. But they are clearly happy with the position they are in, and my hat comes clear from my head to that, even with slight reservation. They’ve done fine without the aid of the World Wide Web so why should that change now? Maybe next time I enjoy a beer I’ll keep my phone firmly in my pocket. And maybe next time I write a shared blog, and then advertise it through Twitter, it won’t be filled with such blatant hypocrisy.


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