Is stainless steel sexy? Of course it isn’t, unless your bag is getting off on a collection of stainless steel knives and forks (don’t do it, they’ll outlive you and as far as I know no coupling between man and cutlery has yet to produce even a silver spoon). And yet the word sexy is all too often used to describe a brewery that is basically glass and stainless steel (and I have been as guilty of it as much as the next man).
Take it another way: would you spend an evening with (and a fair bit of money on) a piece of stainless steel? Of course you wouldn’t, though there is probably a word to describe people who want to frot themselves silly with stainless steel (plus a helpline and a celebrity Vanessa Redgrave on standby for emergency appeals to the media). But then on the other hand there’s a certain sense of beauty about the aesthetic appeal of this photo of stainless steel brewing kit. There is something about it that catches the eye, even if you haven’t got an GCSE in metal media work.
What is it I wonder? Is it the shininess — does it work on the same principle that drives a magpie to make away with some shiny bit of tat it might see in the hedgerow? Or is it the fact that it is light and reflective in the sunlight streaming in from the cool Lancashire countryside outside? Maybe it creates a sense of homeliness in the same way lifestyle ads encourage people with no money to believe that the perfect house can be theirs? Is it aspirational perhaps? I feel that there is almost a hint of Vorticism art about the striped light reflective nature and the way the light plays on this ‘sexy’ slice of aluminium. It’s like camouflague, but there is also a natural sense of life (the yellows might be alive) — but then there is also the reality that this is taken in a brewery.
Breweries certainly can be places of beauty, but I would say that we are talking a certain sort of beauty (certainly not the sort of beauty one would associate with Scarlett Johansson). Is it the beauty that the trainspotter sees in a big hunk of metal blowing steam all over the place, or the gorgeousness that a petrolhead discerns in some old Aston Martin? In other words, a specialist beauty. Does anyone feel the same as I do — that these brewery shots show that stainless steel can have a certain aesthetic quality. But why, for me that is the big question — why do I, a confirmed sceptic about the values of science and making things in school and college, now find myself stirred by these assemblies of stainless steel? Is it something to do with what they are used to make perhaps? That could be it. If they were used to make milk or petrol then I would be utterly uninterested. On the other hand the fact that they are part of the Moorhouse’s new £4 million plus brewery means something. And I like Moorhouse’s beers and so I like their kit, which I visited at the end of last week.
It’s a bit like going to a gorgeous looking pub where there is nothing decent to drink (nothing to drink here, move along). Would I feel the same about the kit at Budweiser, John Smith, Carling whatever? Of course not. i think it’s a case of the sexy stainless steel being made even more sexy by the thought of what goes through the kit every day. So then does that make stainless steel erotic rather than sexy? Answers on a postcard please.