Anyone who knows me knows I hate networking. It feels like sales disguised as false social niceties. Both of these things I hate. If I have to go to a 'networking event' I do my utmost to be straightforward. "Hi I'm here from company X and we do Y. Does any of that interest you? No? Great, what do you think of the vol-au-vents?"
Last night I was asked if I wanted to attend the Norfolk Food & Drink Network's first networking event for my day job.
"I don't really like networking"
"Redwell brewery will be there and they're talking about brewing."
"OK, I might be interested."
"There's free beer."
"Why didn't you lead with that?!"
So off I went, with the apprentice (who doesn't drink) to schmooze and drink beer. One of these things is my favourite thing in the world. The apprentice politely refused free samples of beer while I made the most of mine. One of the founders of Redwell gave a talk about setting up the business and her background and the mistakes they made along the way (and of course the debacle with Redbull). I got to try unfiltered Steam Lager (which I actually preferred unfiltered), as well as the West Coast Pale Ale (which I don't think I've had the pleasure of before, but I will definitely keep an eye out for) and finally the Kofra Coffee Stout. I don't like stout and I don't really like coffee, but this I could drink. The burnt taste was subtle and not cloying and didn't make me feel as though I was drowning from the inside.
At the end of the talk one attendee was saying how he'd spent time in America and hadn't had a nicer beer in the whole of the States. I like Redwell beers, but even so. Was he just drinking Coors Light and PBR over there or something? (Actually I quite like PBR but that's another story.) Someone actually started talking about buying and recommending beer to go with certain types of food. It was clear I was a different kind of beer drinker than most in the room.
As is probably evident by the offhand and slightly gonzo nature of this blog, I know no more about beer than any other average beerlover. I couldn't tell you how different beers are made and I certainly can't taste grapefruit in anything. I like a decent pint in a decent pub and if something amusing happens on the way, then fantastic. I desperately wracked my brain for an interesting, non-networking question to ask at the end of all the talking and all I could think of was asking about Unicorn tears (see a previous blog where I visited the Redwell Brewery). No one else knew what I was talking about, apart from the people from Redwell of course, and they didn't feel the need to explain (making me feel smug, like the little anarchist beer-snob that I am). They said the brewery had a dedicated room on site, filled with crying unicorns. The image this conjured up made me very happy indeed.
I gave my Bullards gin sample to a friend (it did smell lovely but I draw the line at shots of neat gin), gave a few business cards out (boss will be happy) and went home, happy with an evening well spent. I might have to email Redwell asking for a tour of the miserable unicorn room though...
PSB is on twitter, if that's your bag, and sporadically on instagram. But drinking beer is always better than tweeting about it.