When Brooklyn Brewing's Garrett Oliver was in town recently for SAVOR, he was interviewed by DCist.com. One of the questions was:
You tend to be one of the better-dressed brewers. Typically most brewers are the t-shirt and jeans guys, or maybe a polo. Do you dress up to appeal more to the wine audience, or is it generally because you just like wearing suits?
The question may have been flawed in its premise (that wine vs. beer thing again) but, ever gracious, Mr. Oliver responded:
You do get a chance to dress up, and that's fun, but I remember one time, some years back, when I saw a wine tasting. The winemaker Angelo Gaja. I didn't know him at the time, I only knew that his wine cost like $200/bottle. When Angelo showed up, the guy is like 75, but he looked like a million dollars. Crests of gray hair, a great suit on, and you look at that guy and say, 'His wines are worth $200' because he looked like it. A lot of the people you're in front of, they're thinking about beer as something that is this mass-market product. They're thinking of the guy in a t-shirt in front of the television set with a can in his hand When I show up to do something, I do want to change that image. And one thing that a couple of Italians said to me... 'If you're making something and you want people to understand that it's delicious, show up looking delicious.' Now, you may not think I showed up looking delicious, but this is as delicious as I get. So people just have to accept what I manage to do. [emphasis mine]Although I will never be as sartorially splendiferous as Mr. Oliver, I'll wear a tie or dress shirt or suit coat when representing beer. I do that to show beer the respect, in my manner, that beer deserves. Some folks have dubbed me the beer guy with the tie. [2008.05.04: The future of the tie]
Chewing the Fat: The Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver
Some, however, have objected, as if wearing a food-stained tee-shirt would be a better look. Or, as if a lack of tats and grunge-wear would disqualify me as a 'true' brewer or rep for craft beer (as others, conversely, might denigrate casual wear).
As an example, to the above photo at Flickr
Salesman Thomas Cizauskas (l) and brewer Chris Farley (r) set a cask of Peg Leg Imperial Stout, prepared 10 days earlier, on bartop in hospitality room.
this comment was posted:
Is there really any question on who is the brewer and who is the salesman?
Do we really want to be so superficial?
Would the commenter claim that brewer and author Garrett Oliver --because he is wearing a suit coat-- is merely a poseur? Frivolous clothes-ism is a needless diversion from what really is important: the dissemination of the culture of good beer.
Or, is the whole thing just a case of an Imperial Beer with no clothes?