Fightback Lager – A beer that’s helping the Music Venue Trust keep grassroots music venues open
Pull 100 people off the street at random and ask ‘Is music important to you?’ and you would likely get a close-to-unanimous ‘YES’ in response. We turn to music when we celebrate, when we grieve, when we want to relax or psych ourselves up, to fill our bars with atmosphere or vibe, and those of us blessed with un-self-conscious souls dance to it as if no-one was looking. And, aside from the small fact that listening to music is a vital part of the human condition and for any Tories who might be reading, it also helps fill the Nation’s coffers – in 2021 the British music industry contributed £4 billion to the economy.
Despite all of this, the world is becoming increasingly hostile towards the people who make music. Whether it be the government encouraging artists to scrap their creative passion in favor of ‘real’ jobs in IT, or the minuscule royalties music streaming giants pay to musicians, the relentlessly growth-focused nature of our economy means anything that can’t be easily and immediately monetised by a corporation is squeezed out of existence.
This squeezing effect is particularly apparent when it comes to grassroots music venues – the type of venue where local communities go to see bands, and where independent musicians learn their trade and begin to connect with audiences. In addition to the common hospitality pressures anyone reading this will be familiar with – ludicrously expensive energy costs, Brexit-related staffing issues and rising product costs, etc – grassroots music venues also have to contend with charming folk who buy property next door to known, established gig venues, and then petition the council to have them closed because of the noise. Property developers circle such venues like buzzards above a sick animal, hoping it will close so they can turn it into a block of luxury flats.
Grassroots music venues are closing at an alarming rate. The Independent Society of Musicians estimates that one such venue disappears per month, and that 20-30% of the UK’s small gig venues have closed in the last 15 years. This closure rate appears to be accelerating, with 13 venues closing already this year. Every time this happens, a community essentially loses both a hospitality venue, and a cultural site where music and other arts could be performed and enjoyed. At this rate, in not-very-many years, £150 Ticketmaster stadium gigs and corporately-organised, and expensive, festivals could be all that’s left of live music in the UK. In short, grassroots music venues need all the help they can get, which brings us on to Fightback Lager.
This Beer Saves Music Venues
Fightback began as the fundraising arm of the Music Venue Trust (MVT), a charity which lobbies for and provides direct support to grassroots music venues, and much of that fundraising was done by way of music festivals and gigs. It quickly occurred to the organizers that gallons of beer were being sold at these events, generating money that then flowed out of the music industry and into brewing company pockets, rather than helping music venues. Creating a beer to be sold at these events, allowing more money to be routed to the MVT for venue support was an obvious choice, and thus Fightback Lager was born. Since its creation in 2018, the Fightback range has grown and now includes a Pilsner (4%ABV), IPA (4.5%ABV), Cider (4.5%ABV) and Dark Fruit Bomb (4%ABV). The beers are brewed in Manchester and paired with extremely cool (and stealable) glasses branded with the Fightback and MVT logos.
Most importantly, 40% of Fightback’s sales profits go directly to the Music Venue Trust and this revenue is used to directly assist grassroots music venues. For example, just this week the Bedford Esquires music venue was saved from closure by a grant from the MVT, and in addition to this sort of financial assistance, the trust also provides access to licensing, noise, planning, and legal experts to struggling grassroots music venues.
At a time when grassroots and other independent music venues are under pressure from all sides, the Music Venue Trust is doing vital work to support and preserve vulnerable venues, and Fightback Lager helps the trust continue that work. In recent years the bar industry has become increasingly interested in sourcing products that are made ethically or have an otherwise positive impact on the world and our local communities. If one of the Fightback brands is right for your venue, and you would like to stock a beer or cider that is directly involved in keeping local and grassroots music alive in our communities, I would encourage you to give them a shout, especially if your venue has any sort of live music offering or connection to your community’s music scene. This article isn’t sponsored or paid for in any way, I just think this is a very cool and constructive initiative worthy of support.
Email enquiries to Gary Prosser of Fightback Lager here.