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POINTLESS MUSINGS - Beer Stans: My tea's gone cold...

“Anyway, I hope you get this man. Hit me back, just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan, this is Stan”

The best thing about being an irregular pub regular is the relationship you build up with the staff that work in your favourite establishments. Hanging around the bar constantly has brought me friends, not just when they are behind the bar, but away from their work and mine. Some have moved on to ventures new. Some I am lucky enough to see under circumstances other than exchanging pints. But mostly it has brought me to new friends that I have found common ground with over a few pre-match beers.

One such friend did his time working "hard" behind the bar whilst spending his free time learning from other breweries how to brew a bloody good beverage. Some led to the initial runs and collaborations under his initial gypsy brewery guise. Since then this has led to much bigger and internationally recognised brewing accolades.

And to think I knew him when he was that guy in the pub with whom I share a passion for the same football team. 

Suddenly he’s a celebrity. Suddenly after-match pints were interrupted by those looking for tips on how to start a brewery themselves or those simply looking for an opportunity to praise a brewer on their beer. Drinks with a friend were stalled against the beer equivalent of autographs and screaming selfies. 

There are beer Stans now.

Though they never asked for the attention it must be incredibly fulfilling to have your work praised by strangers in the pub. Still, there are continuing elements that must be draining. Like running a social media account where people feel the need to unnecessarily tag you in every comment they make regarding your beer. Or even worse, where people don’t tag the offending brewery, but the brewer’s personal profile themselves, in order to really garner attention.

“I’m loving this beer by @BrewTeamDave. Not the @BrewTeam – just @BrewTeamDave. Fuck the rest of you. And also fuck you Dave if you are having a private night away from work.”

Social media presence became a key and necessary part of brewery life, though some clearly didn’t want it. I can recall a tweet from a brewery three or four years ago (I'm 95% sure was Partizan Brewing) sardonically stating [something along the lines of:] "Somebody enjoyed our beer and felt the need to tell us on Twitter... what a novelty." Such cynicism seemed unnecessary at the time, yet it was the sign of somebody who had grown tired of the thousands of Untappd check-ins or standard messages like Enjoying a @partizanbrewing Pale in such a Hop Hole. They didn't think they'd signed up to the attention element or the fanboys.

I was thinking about fans of Taylor Swift (Swifties) wondering whether the behaviour of the die hards was regular. They like every Instagram post our hero posts; wait on them with baited breath. They follow their every post on social media with notifications turned on. They are the first to share any new post with the rest of the world. They want to be recognised as the ones that broke the news to the others. They make sure they are the first to try the new material from their hero and the first to review it. And that review is almost universally positive regardless of the content, even when unpalatable collaborations with others exist (I’m looking at you Zayn Malik.)

Swifties. Stans. Beer Geeks. 

So it is that I bought a kitten, who after many suggestions gained her beautiful name to go with her beautiful face. It also happens to be the name of my favourite UK beer at present. The name was by somebody else’s recommendation but still… it stuck. It suits her. It suits her when I’m cooing and cuddling her on the sofa after being out of the house for ten hours. It suits her when I’m telling her off and carrying her downstairs at 3am after biting her mummy’s bracelet. It suits her when she climbs the curtains, gets stuck on the rail and cries for assistance. It is her name. And when I scream it I don’t think of the beer.

Still a few have suggested to me that I let the brewery know about her name. Maybe they’ll love her. Some seem to think I’ll get some kind of gift in return. Maybe they'll think I'm a frighteningly obsessed Stan. Either way I’ve never let them know.

I’ve never let them know because the brewery in question have always used Twitter to suggest they don't want to use social media to hear people fawn over their beer or name animals after them. And so I’ve never pushed it.

There was a response to a tweet of mine last week that made me think they are pushing that attitude too far. I was a bit put out – briefly.

But all it did was confirm to me that this was a brewery making beer that many love and selling it without the hassle. I don’t enjoy the beer any less and am not going to change my darling’s name. But I do know not to tag them in any future praise. They aren’t bothered by the social media surrounding their livelihood. They aren’t celebrities. They just want to do their job and gain their enjoyment from the work itself.

They don’t want letters or recordings from Stan..

Sometimes your idols just want to make their craft.

So whether it be the next time I hold that cask pint to my lips or that little kitten falls asleep on my shoulder, I won't let the brewer know. Maybe they don't want to know every time you drink their beer. Maybe we all stop treating them like celebrities. Maybe we'll see you in the Premier League next season. Maybe Dido will be replaced by Elton John and the British Beer Writers Awards.The idols are dead. Long live the idols.

“You gotta call me man, I’ll be the biggest fan you’ll ever lose. Sincerely yours, Stan. P.S. we should be together too.”


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