An Open Letter to the Judge of the Craft Beer Kangaroo Court

Dear Eleanor Robertson

Coming from a nation that’s big on beer myself, I’m always happy to get the thoughts of people from other cultures on a beverage so close to my heart. You’ll forgive me if I forgo anything you have to say about food though; I’m not at the point where I feel the need to kill, cook and eat giant rats just yet.

So, on to your feelings on beer, and craft beer in particular.

As I understand it, aside from price and aftertaste (and I refer you to the appropriate Latin proverb on that score) your two main gripes concerning craft beer extend to disliking the snobbery of beer nerds, and feeling that beer is simply a backdrop to a good pub session and should be treated as such. Beer should never take centre stage – that would be un-Australian. It simply doesn’t fit with what you’re used to, and you don’t like that. “Give me cheap beer, or give me sobriety,” is your rallying cry to the Carlton draught-drinking, Collingwood-supporting hordes. Finally, if craft beer “were contained to its own small bars where [you] never drink, it’d just be another niche subculture, where it belongs.”

Stirring stuff indeed.

I must say though, I’ve heard that last bit before. The apartheid government said the same things to black people in my country back in the day. And you Australians echo the sentiment: people can be as Aboriginal as they want, as long as they do it far away from most other Australians (that said, you’re quite happy to accept living with a hell of a lot of Asian people; apparently China says “Jump!” and Australia dons its kangaroo ears and screams “How high?”).

Because that’s what your opinion amounts to: I don’t like it because it’s not what I’m used to, therefore it must go away. Of course, you’re welcome to that opinion, and I’ll support your right to hold it. I do ask this, however: If you insist on being the harbinger of the craft beer apocalypse, at least realise that your thinking establishes and relies upon a divisive false dichotomy. It’s traditional Australian beer culture or nothing; it’s ‘normal’ beer or craft; it’s us or them; it’s the Coalition of the Willing or The Axis of Evil.

But…sometimes, I can savour a craft ale. And sometimes, I can drink cold, refreshing, mass-produced lager with a big smile on my face. Wow, did I just say that? Is it possible that beer (and life) isn’t so black and white, so cut and dried?

Yes, Eleanor Robertson, it is. And I’d like you to come to Beerhouse and discover this incredible middle ground. I’ll even serve you myself. You’re welcome, because you like beer.

And before I finish, let me address that pressing threat to decent pub conversations everywhere: the Beer Nerd. Or at least I could, but you’re the one using phrases like ‘demanding in flavour’ and ‘overly hoppy’. Perhaps you should let that struggling inner Beer Nerd free. Let her express herself a bit more. Then you could be a force for universal beer love and unity, rather than a writer of patently ridiculous and sadly segregationist polemics.

Yours in (all) beer,

Carl Thomen

Minister of Hopaganda

Beerhouse


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