5 Reasons Real Ale is Political
I’m getting annoyed at people who try to depoliticise life. Not that life should be about boring politics, just that trying to make out that there is nothing political about mundane stuff is really dangerous, because it leads us to forget the impacts we’re having. Well, it slightly randomly occurred to me that, if beer is the cause and solution to all life’s problems, perhaps I should think about the politics of it. This is either 5 reasons to drink Real Ale, or 5 things that, if you don’t agree with them, you probably shouldn’t be drinking it.
- Typically, it reduces food miles. Most micro-breweries sell most of their output within, say, a 50 mile radius of their brewery (maybe that’s a little small). Often its possible to buy a beer that has travelled only a few miles, and has not had added route miles visiting depots and the like.
- Such businesses are smaller and therefore, in theory, more sustainable and therefore they can hopefully listen to their employees better. A few are even cooperatives and I suspect there’s probably a community interest co. out there.
- Product diversity and cultural variation/respect. Lets compare with a Starbucks. Your Starbucks coffee is part of a business model which relies on working towards total market domination through mass-production and global mono-cultural uniformity. Your beer is brewed differently from all the others, and you can excite yourself by discovering something different when you holiday in a different area, with names that often reflect local culture/history. Your airport Starbucks is the same whichever place you touch down
- There’s a growing trend towards organic. Admittedly this one isn’t a reason to consume all Real Ales, but it shows scope for improvement.
- You stand a chance of meeting the people responsible for your beer, allowing you to say thank you. Unlike other products, where producers are replaced by characters in adverts, with whom we can only ever have truly shallow relationships.
So, there you go, a few suggestions on why something as ordinary and enjoyable as the pint is actually a quite intensely political choice. Choose local, organic, small, sustainable, diverse and personal.
Tomorrow, 5 reasons your choice of toilet roll is political… OK, maybe not!