It is Children in Need time again and it brings to mind the advice of the late, great Terry Wogan. He famously said that he hadn’t got millions of listeners, he only had one. He was in a studio and imagining broadcasting to a single person listening to their radio. I experienced that day after day. It always felt like he was talking just to me.
I once heard an author discussing their finished novel as a being like a message in a bottle. They write and send it out into the world. They don’t know where it it will end up or who will read it and they wrote with that single, mystery person in mind.
If ever an analogy was true it was that one. We sell our bottles and they head out into the world. It got me thinking about the person on the other end. The person who ends up opening it up. Who do I imagine them to be and what message am I trying to send them?
When I am thinking about a beer to send out, I do have someone in mind…or rather a pair of people. Beer is a social drink and I imagine it bringing people together. A drink to chat over. It gives me a lot of pleasure when someone comes to the stall looking for a beer to take home to their dad or a close relative. It happens a lot. We sell most of our beer on Sunday morning and I imagine a bottle or two heading off with the customer as they go and see their family in the afternoon. I want it to come out of the bag, raise a smile and be a bit of a talking point. Something to share and bring people together. It might be something instantly recognisable and easy drinking or it might be something more challenging to share and widen experience. To learn about beer together.
Way before I started brewing, I used to visit my grandad whilst he was living in sheltered housing in Halliwell. I would often take him bottle of beer and it brought us together. It was the starting point of a conversation that might head off in any direction as we stood next a big world map he had pinned to the kitchen wall. I knew that he looked forward to it. I get an immense amount of pleasure when people come and take a bottle or two for the same reason.
My single Wogan listener/drinker is that person who takes a bottle with the intention of sharing it and brightening up someone’s day. My message in a bottle is that beer is a social drink best drunk with friends and loved ones…make it local, make it interesting. Learn about beer together. Let it start the conversation and who knows where it will end. Long may it continue.
P.s. After a few beers last night and contemplating standing all day on a market in the snow, Phil says ‘Stuff that (paraphrasing), I’m brewing for Zak Avery.’