If you want to understand the concept of privilege, simply observe the reaction to the latest instalment of the Cloudwater/J Wakefield labelling clusterfuck. The breweries were rightly held to account by beer drinkers on Twitter, but this didn’t go down well with less politically engaged members of the beer community. I’m paraphrasing here, but the ensuing storm prompted the following familiar statements to be uttered: ‘beer’s supposed to be fun’, and ‘some people enjoy being offended’. The latter is particularly telling, as like the battle cry of the Daily Mail reader ‘it’s PC gone mad’, its purpose is to suppress debate.
While I am here to laud those challenging the label, in contrast, Mark Johnson highlighted what he regards as silence from those too close to Cloudwater in a post published today. He has a point; I’m acutely aware of my own fallibility in this regard concerning London-based breweries. I find beer Twitter exasperating too, but whether you believe Cloudwater was simply misguided or you’re of the opinion they’re taking customers for a ride, it was right and proper that they were held accountable.
That is, if you believe beer should be inclusive. Clearly, not everyone does.
‘Beer is supposed to be fun’ is the refrain, but fun for who? Are you so devoid of empathy that you’re content with the status quo, happy for swathes of humanity to be excluded from the joy that beer can bring? Beer is supposed to be fun, but it’s not fun if you’re ostracised from it on account of ethnicity, gender, sexuality and so on, or worse, subjected to physical and verbal abuse. If your default position on this debate is apathy or even antipathy, lucky you – that’s privilege in action.
I have grown weary of the pointless bickering online, the tiresome cask versus keg debate, and of the intransigence of both craft beer zealots and CAMRA dinosaurs. However, with the diversity debate I feel it’s my duty to support my fellow beer drinkers. As a male, I feel this is best done by sharing the experiences of those facing discrimination, and the industry can do better by extending the platform to the hitherto marginalised.