I was quite gobsmacked to read Roger Protz’s review of the Oxford Companion to Beer in the Publican’s Morning Advertiser. It’s mostly the same as the review posted on his web site a couple of weeks ago, but he has gone to the extra effort of including a newly written section attacking the book’s critics – 25% of the entire review is spent attacking Martyn Cornell and Alan McLeod.
When I criticised one of Roger’s articles in the Companion, he complained
that I was condemning him in public for a piece that might have been
edited. On the other hand, he is quite happy to pillory the critics of
the book in the pages of the Morning Advertiser. I don’t know
how many readers the Morning Advertiser has but I imagine it’s a bit
more than the few hundred who follow me on Twitter. I’d be worried about the state of the pub industry if it weren’t.
Garrett Oliver has assured us that nobody is making any money off the Oxford Companion to Beer. In view of this I do ask myself exactly why old-guard beer writers are so eager to defame those who have raised criticisms of the book. Roger writes, rather immoderately: “In spite of this, the bloggerati have come piling in, damning the book and some saying it should be withdrawn. How they must wish they had been around in the 1930s when book-burning was in vogue.”
So there you have it. In Roger’s view, if you suggest that getting facts right is important, or that more robust editing might have eliminated a few howlers from the book, well, you might as well pull on your brown shirt and go sieg-heiling down the street.
Roger is on shaky ground when he accuses others of practices reminiscent of totalitarianism. It was his Speakwrite machine which set the record straight, after all, so now everyone knows that London brewery Barclay Perkins never existed.
Roger lectures us: “It’s an established fact in publishing that most encyclopedias and dictionaries contain errors that are corrected for subsequent editions … Oxford University Press is a prestigious publisher and it will rapidly update the beer book.” I wonder how Roger thinks the OUP is going to correct the errors, if nobody points them out.