Wednesday, 2 December 2009

a call for civility


I am Tom Cannavan, publisher of, including Roger's blog. For my living I write about wine and publish my website, which has been on the go since 1995. Wine is my area of expertise, and although I love beer too, I am definitely not an expert. So when I had the idea of starting beer-pages in 2004 I knew I had to find the right person as my contributing editor. I count myself as incredibly lucky when Roger agreed to bring his experience, knowledge and passion for quality beer to the site.

I had completely missed Roger's post on BrewDog and the controversy it has provoked because I am on the final day of a 12 day tour of the vineyards of Chile (lovely bottle of Kross chocolate stout last night in a place called Akarana in Santiago). When I finally got a chance to log on and see Roger's post and the 30-odd replies to it this morning, I confess I was really quite shocked and saddened.

Roger's post was ill-advised. He is a guy who is passionate about beer and has spent most of his life defending beer, beer drinkers and brewers from various forces that have worked against them. I know Roger, and am certain his post was not trying to be clever or controversial, it was simply a bit of a gut reaction.

Roger should have checked his facts. I also agree he has missed the point that a £30 bottle of beer has got absolutely zero to do with the hysterical reaction of some people, even if it does have 32% ABV. The points about this being lower alcohol, a smaller bottle and having a higher price than hundreds of spirits on the market is well made and well taken. BrewDog are pretty blameless in this respect.

But Blog's are not places for carefully researched and analysed writings. The spirit of the blog is to talk freely about subjects that raise your blood pressure a little and express opinions. Yes, Roger got this blog post wrong in some ways, but the reaction from many anonymous and semi-anonymous posters has been unkind and unfair.

Roger attacked BrewDog's egos and 'naked ambition' and called them 'bonkers' in his headline. That is something that could be debated long and hard over a pint - I love many BrewDog beers, but I cringe at some of their promotional stunts, and it is obviously a company that puts itself out there to court such controversy (and the publicity it generates) very deliberately. But the responses to Roger have included many personal attacks on his integrity, competence, age and motives, all of which are unfair and unfounded.

I think an awful lot of people in the UK will acknowledge the enormous contribution Roger has made to beer - not just CAMRA and their ideals - over decades. I don't think a post in a blog - a pretty rubbish post in many ways (sorry Roger) - is any reason or excuse to forget that or for some of the reactions and language used here.

Please let us keep this civil and debate the points about the beer, the brewery, the fact that Roger may have missed the point, etc in a constructive and civilised manner. Roger may not be a brewer, but he is a thoroughly decent bloke who loves beer, knows a hell of a lot about it and would have a knighthood for his services to it if he wasn't such an anti-royalist.


Anonymous Matt said...

This is all just self-contradictory grovelling rubbish. A lame self-justifying attempt to salvage some of your increasing tarnished credentials. Maybe it is time to just stop digging. I note there has been no official and direct apology to BrewDog on this one.
You retort 'Please keep the debate civil and debate the points about the beer' rings hollow and hypocritical in the light of Roger's shameless language in his unfounded and un-researched vindictive and personal attack on BrewDog.

2 December 2009 at 14:30  
Anonymous Chap said...

Hear, hear, Matt. Protz seems to think that it's OK for him to dish it out ("what were you smoking last night, chaps?") but can't take it.

Claiming to have been writing about beer for mroe (sic) than 30 years isn't that much of a qualification, actually, but it does tie in with Protz's failure in this case to do basic research. So much rubbish has been written about beer over the last 30 years, often because some "beer journalists" have regurgitated each others' unfounded assertions based on supposition, rather than getting down and doing some real research. Take a look at Ron Pattinson's blog at to see how he digs into the brewing archives to come up with empirical data that undermine such myths peddled by some long-established "beer journalists" that IPA was brewed strong so it could survive the journey to India, and that all Scottish ales were less hopped than London ales because hops don't grow in Scotland and therefore are more expensive.

BTW, rehashing press releases issued by Wetherspoons hardly qualifies as a blog!

2 December 2009 at 15:54  
Blogger Beantown Brews said...

C'mon all - let's not beat a dead horse. I think Roger has taken a sufficient amount of tongue lashing at this point.

Thanks for the post Tom. Your moderation was most needed and welcomed.

2 December 2009 at 17:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about the inaccurate research. When I said Roger had been a campaigner for the Socialist Worker Party I should have said he is a former editor of Socialist Worker. If this isn't right Roger needs to contact Wikipedia.

A call for civility is all very well. i don't believe in being un-civil. I would never for instance refer to Roger as an ego maniac or suggest that his decision making was affected by illegal narcotics. I too agree with Tom that this really isn't the place for that sort of thing.

2 December 2009 at 19:18  
Blogger Eddie said...

Beantown's right, let it lie.

2 December 2009 at 22:08  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

I still think its important Roger expresses his views. it is a blog and with it should go more freedom of expression. I am all for a heated debate but not a rude one its just not British old boy.

2 December 2009 at 23:26  

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