My head is really awhirl at the moment - I forgot to mention the very thing that prompted me to open you yesterday!
Tomorrow morning (on Monday), just after 8am, on BBC Radio Leeds, I've been asked to do come in and do an interview about the closure of Leeds' Tetleys brewery, and what that means for the beer scene in the city. I'm very much looking forward to it.
It reminds me that a little while ago, I wrote a piece for Leigh at The Good Stuff. He was doing a guest post for another blog and asked for a quick soundbite about the closure. Me being me, I couldn't stop writing, and unfortunately the soundbite ended up as a short essay. I suppose here is as good a place as any to reproduce it. Until next time, dear diary....
There will be an older generation of drinkers who mourn the closure of the Tetley brewery as though it were the death of a close relative. And there will be a younger generation of drinkers who wonder what all the fuss is about.
The older generation are wrong to mourn its closing - it's true that the presence of Tetley's in Leeds is an important cultural artefact, but once Tetley's became Carlsberg-Tetley's, its days were numbered. And the younger generation are wrong to ignore its closure - the maxim that you need to know your past before you can know your future rings true here.
While the mantle of beer production in Leeds now passes to Leeds Brewery, Tetley's the brand still exists. How you feel about the relocation of production isn't about how the beer tastes, or how an international business has treated its assets. It's about a personal story, about how you relate to current affairs and weave them into your personal history.
So my plea is neither to bury Tetley's nor to praise it. The old guard have spent years complaining about how the beer isn't what it was - that's the nature of nostalgia. And the new brooms will most likely have tried it once and dismissed it as old-fashioned - that's the nature of youth. What I urge both parties to do is see the cultural significance of this event, and use it as a spur to their drinking habits - local, global, traditional, innovative, it's about integrity. Drink what you like, and like what you drink, but do it for the right reasons - not solely for the sake of tradition, nor solely for the sake of fashion, but do it because it has a deeper meaning.
Beer is about storytelling, sociability, and an exchange of ideas. It's a centuries old tradition that will endure beyond a particular brand, and it's a story that needs retelling every day to be kept alive. Whether that's over a pint of local ale in a local pub, or at home over a bottle of beer that has a ruinous number of air miles attached to it, I'm not sure it matters. However you perform it, enjoy the ritual and keep the faith.