64 BREWING & BEVERAGE INDUSTRIES BUSINESS He thrust forward the latest and fattest-ever copy of the Good Beer Guide – over his fattest-ever beer belly – before slinging a good half-pint of hand- pulled Last Man Standing’s Cooking Ale down his gullet in a couple of gulps. ‘Cobblers to your sandals!’ retorted Artie Zannipster (nouveau-craft enthusiast). ‘The future is this craft-keg Falafel Flatbread IPA from the Dollytub & Dipstick Brewhouse. Nine percent abv, unfined, made with organic chickpeas, and with more hops per two-thirds of a pint than in a whole firkin of that bland bright boring brown bitter you’re drinking!’ With a flourish of a sleeve-tattooed arm, he raised the murky liquid in its bespoke stemmed glass towards his mouth, hidden somewhere between a meticulously twirled moustache and a beard so long he must have started growing it when he was five…and took the tiniest sip. ‘What about me and my pint of Frostingberg?’ demanded Phil Turdfizz (everyday lager swiller). ‘Get lost!’ sneered Mike Romasher (local artisan brewer). ‘My business is going down the slops pan because I can’t find pubs willing to take that global garbage off the bar and stock my Reinheits Jackboot authentic artisan hefepilsener. I’ve got nothing in common with any breweries big enough or old enough to have an established market foothold.’ ‘On the contrary,’ cut in Robin Slickgit (big brewery sales executive), ‘we love your craft imagination and innovation so much we’re developing our own portfolio of crafty brands. Our flattery is of the sincerest form – but we know we can do it more professionally than you upstart homebrew amateurs!’ ‘Excuse me!’ declared Millie Tantippler (feminist sommelier). ‘This testosterone- fuelled male-dominated exchange is bloody typical! If you want a really good row you’d better let me join in!’ ~ In contrast, the mood in an austere white office not far away was cool and clinical – much like the office itself… ‘No disagreement then?’ The cool and clinical woman in an austere white coat scanned her ascetic acolytes, not for a second expecting to see any hint of dissent. She smiled a smile – cool and clinical and entirely without warmth. ‘So that’s how we play these statistics? We know what we set out to find, and there’s enough here to present in a way that reinforces and apparently validates our agenda.’ ‘The demon drink supporters will kick off,’ said another whitecoat, ‘but they’re too fragmented. Even the beer sector on its own can’t co-ordinate a united front for beer drinkers and the pub and brewing industries: cask, craft, keg, bottle, can, little brewers, big brewers, global brewers, pubcos, tied trade, free trade, on trade, off trade – they’re too busy fabricating a lack of common ground and drawing false battle-lines between themselves to realise who their real enemy is.’ ‘We are their real enemy,’ intoned the whitecoated woman, ‘because alcohol is our enemy.’ ‘Alcohol is the enemy!’ chanted the assembled abolitionists. ‘ALCOHOL IS THE ENEMY!’ ‘And we will defeat it,’ said their leader. ‘For we are to alcohol what the Dementors are to Harry Potter – determined to suck the soul out of social drinking and community life. In fact…’ In a moment of inspiration, her eyes lit up, yet remained cold and clinical. ‘…we are the De-FER-mentors!’ ‘WE ARE THE DEFERMENTORS!’ cheered the cabal. ~ In Roman mythology, Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The scenarios above may well be the product of an overactive imagination and characterised by exaggerated caricatures – but be warned: one thing they are not is mythology. Is falling out among ourselves really the best way to counter an increasingly aggressive neo-prohibitionist lobby? Beware the anti-alcohol tides on the march. Julian Grocock The view through my glass bottom… JULIAN GROCOCK Fiddling in the face of the De(fer)mentors Julian Grocock is a former pub landlord, managing director of Tynemill/Castle Rock, and chief executive of SIBA. Now a partner in Brewindex, a new business consultancy consortium of senior industry executives. Extensive experience in beer and pub politics, brewery and pubco operations, and on the front line in the pub trade...‘from cellar to ceiling’. In Ye Olde Quibble & Bicker, the conversation was getting heated… ‘REAL ALE!’ thundered Terry O’Stipe, (strict CAMRA fundamentalist). ‘Nothing else matters! Do you know how many pairs of sandals and socks I’ve worn out tramping the country to get ticks in me bleedin’ bible?’ 64_Layout 1 16/05/2018 10:59 Page 1