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Amongst the many discussions, posts and indifference from the inaugural Beavertown Extravaganza in September 2017, spawned a brand new meme* based on a poorly phrased tweet that Beavertown received from one attendee. The offending tweet has since been deleted but made reference to bringing wives who only drink wine to the event. This brought about much mirth and a whole host of “Wine for the Wives” references.
The correct action when faced with such casual sexism is to take ownership of the phrasing to destroy it. This can sometimes turn a little ugly and mocking, but many of the #WineForWives jokes I saw did not include the original offender in the Tweet. In other words, they weren’t berated or mocked, but ownership of their idiocy was formed. It was correctly approached.
The reason this post has taken a couple of weeks to publish is that mention of it came up in Boak and Bailey’s newsletter (sign up if you haven’t.) Part of their opinion on this new meme, as I also saw from others, was that it shouldn’t be mocked as the OP clearly meant that his wife drank wine. Whether or not this was their intention, it certainly isn’t how it read to many. However, the use of some Al Murray’s Pub Landlord dialect is not the discussion here.
After the Extravaganza weekend, I had a couple of conversations with others who do have partners that don’t drink beer who they like to take to Beer Events. And so, removing the meme aspect, it did provoke some thoughts in me about non-beer drinkers and the future of Beer Celebrations.
Beer is still increasing in popularity amongst previously non-experimental drinkers. Somebody even suggested to me that the metaphorical Craft Beer Bubble has now burst, which is the reason for such happenings as the above. This is not my experience of course but, again, perhaps that will form part of a future post.
Beer is especially becoming popular amongst the crowd often titled "Millenials" or "Hipsters" by the media and long-serving enthusiasts. People will argue the toss about such descriptors, and whilst I find them cringe-inducing myself, they are categorising people in the old Mods and Rockers style - it's just that people do not want to associate or generalise themselves. .
The Hipster and Millenial tag is given to those newer attendees of Beer Events who turn up on the basis that they are, in modern terms, “cool.” They happen in cool places. They bring along cool street food. There are cool people that already attend these events. People are now attending equally for the event itself and the Beer that was being made the proud focus. If people aren’t coming to these events now just for beer then the likelihood is more are coming that don’t drink it at all. How do we accommodate those people? Should we have to accommodate them at all?
I listened to a few others give their opinions and tried to think of my own. Some don't like to go anywhere without their non-beer-drinking partner so won't attend without an alternative offering. Some never take their partners to beer places as they don't enjoy it. I realised that there isn't an individual correct response and there are more questions than answers. There can’t be a right or wrong answer to such a situation, but I will give my completely mixed bag of thought when considering this dilemma.
Why would a person who doesn't like beer go to a celebration of it? I wouldn’t, for example, go to a Whiskey festival as a non-Whiskey drinker. I’ve often thought, when I see large crowds in beer focused bars not drinking beer, that I wouldn’t go intentionally to a Whiskey focused bar either. However, if my partner or my best friends wanted to and wanted my company … yes, I would probably consider it. So maybe I would go to that Whiskey festival... go figure.
My partner goes to certain beer events, usually has three or four thirds of something a little Sour and then a couple of coffees. They enjoy the atmosphere, the food and seeing good friends, as well as the beer. With this in mind we’ve been to MBCF, Indy Man, Leeds International and Peakender within the past 12 months. However, they didn’t go to Hop City, though I did, as we both thought that the focus on the beers at the festival might make it a little too niche – and the morning after I’d been I agreed that would have been the case. We would have made a similar decision about Beavertown Extravaganza – the focus had I been in attendance would have been on the remarkable beer list.
This isn’t a criticism of beer focused events (especially those two named here before somebody once again misreads this.) My partner doesn’t enjoy football and isn’t a Huddersfield Town fan, therefore doesn’t join me at the matches. Does that mean I should give them up? That’s my interest; it doesn’t need to be theirs. Do Huddersfield need to suddenly make match days about more than just football to appeal to non-football fans? I wouldn’t, if they didn’t want to go, drag them along to a Sonic the Hedgehog Convention or a Taylor Swift concert.
Though I hate the term “drag along.” We hear it all the time when we go away. “I bet Mark just dragged you along to a load of pubs.” We both like going to many beer-focused bars and work them into our trips. At the same time, our tastes still differ in that area and there are certain pubs I’d never take them even though I’d happily go in.
But there’s another twist to this. My partner predominantly, but not exclusively, drinks beers within the Sour category. The other day we were in one of Manchester’s premier beer bars, with twenty taps on, and not one of them fell into this category. They resorted to Gin instead. It made me realise that, whilst you can provide the extra choice, who is to say they would like it anyway? What if the OP’s wife exclusively drank Malbec and Beavertown only laid on Pinot Noir? What if that hypothetical Whiskey Festival only sold Hobgoblin as a beer choice?
That leads to the conclusion that there isn't a right response to this. Individuals are different and some will have different drink preferences, regardless of sex. If we are to be truly as inclusive as we are claiming the Beer scene to be then we will have to consider how we incorporate them into this community, but whilst satisfying those there for the main product.
Take ownership of the comments, print the merchandise, hey if there’s going to be t-shirts put me down for an optimistic size Medium, but underneath the surface there is a discussion to be had about how exclusive we keep beer events. Should the beer be the focus or the event itself? Is each event to be treated differently? Does any of it matter? I don’t have the answers but I would suggest one event can’t be everything. Beer might be for everyone but not everyone likes beer. Who decides what the welcome criteria is? Who decides whether the wives will ever get their wine?
*I used to think Meme was a popular picture with words written over it but now believe it to be something else, which includes the context used here. Sorry if I'm wrong. My knowledge of modern colloquialisms isn’t particularly lit.