Thursday 27 June 2013

Thursday Vitriol

After years (well probably only months) of resistance I’ve joined Linkedin. 

Without ever really going on Faceache I’ve been victim to how the psychotic can use it on a couple of occasions so I avoid social media wherever possible. I’ve only been at it for three weeks and I am excited to report that I have nearly 300 business connections. Some I don’t know, some keep trying to sell me things I don’t want but most are great people with whom I can’t wait to share a beer or two. 

After looking through some of the people recommended as suitable connections I am thinking of calling myself a consultant nuclear physicist on the basis that I microwave egg whites every morning and know what an SP orbital is. I have seen the role “brewing consultant” listed by at least 20 people. Some of them are real brewers and scientists who have all the tickets and experience of working in a good-sized commercial brewery (Bill Simpson, David Smith, Chris Giles) but a significant minority are failures, bull-shitters and snake oil salesmen.

I’ve had a couple of occasions where I’ve been faced with a seemingly unfathomable problem, have exhausted the phone a brewer friend option and turned to a consultant. Only to have a children’s party entertainer without their costume turn up and the only benefit derived from their visit was to make me feel very good about my capability as a brewer. 

One bloke calling himself a brewing consultant on Linkedin is probably the worst brewer in the world. If you put the stuff he says about brewing which is true on one end of a seesaw and the stuff he makes up, has misconstrued or he has learned from a someone speculating on US homebrew forum on the other, the latter end would be sunk 300miles into the earth. His ability to talk with confidence in a mid-Atlantic drone about “cudding edge brewing science” while demonstrating a complete lack of understanding would be funny if he didn’t believe everything he says. Phrases like “retro nasal humulone sting”, “oxidized Pro-ceramide R leading to butyric notes in brett-aged bottled ales” flow from his beard-lined mouth like very stupid vomit.
I hope that the subtlety of English used in the last paragraph did not detract from its ability to convey my contempt for the pseudo-expert. 

I interviewed another “consultant” for a job in the not too distant past and they weren’t able to answer any of the very simple technical questions I posed. Other professions must have them but these days brewing seems to be becoming increasingly crowded with Walter Mittys.   

If you are an inexperienced brewer the best approach to avoiding the unsolvable problem is always to study brewing to degree level, to learn the practicalities at a range of breweries of different scales and then do your first mash in charge. If the call of the craft beer fame and fortune is too strong and you simply must start sooner and need advice, make sure your adviser is at least degree level-qualified, has at least 10 years of brewing experience at a good scale and has made some consistently good beers in his/her time. Often those most willing to advise are the least able.  


BeerReviewsAndy said...

knew I shouldn't have put that i was a brewing consultant and changed my profile pic to one where i was wearing a Sharp's t-shirt, back to being a boring web geek!

Stuart Howe said...

You're winding me up, surely Andy?

BeerReviewsAndy said...

I thought after a couple of successful homebrews and many days touring breweries and drinking beer that it stood me in good stead ;op

Ed said...

I think I'm safe with Julian Herrington then. Not sure if he's on linkedin though.

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