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Session #103: The hard stories are about more than beer

The SessionOops. The Session #103: “The Hard Stuff” kind of snuck up on me.

Natasha Godard at MetaCookBook’s marching orders include two parts:
– What do you want people in beer culture to be talking about that we’re not?
– What do you have to say on the topic(s)?

Reading Boak & Bailey’s contibution this morning first reminded me that I’d totally forgotten what day it was, and second led me to realize I jumped the gun last week when I asked, “Is gentrification good for more expensive beer?”

“More expensive beer” being code for “craft beer” and that is part of a larger question: Does that entity people call craft beer have a different role in society than beer has had for the last 200 years (or 50 years, or 400 years, you pick)? It is certainly related to the hypothetical book Maureen Ogle wrote she’d write (if she were writing one).

But, here’s the thing, that’s a big topic, one that requires research, and supporting statements with facts. Granted, I’m a bit obsessive, so coming up with the first question is relatively easy; committing to the “what do you have to say” before I’ve collected the facts is a non-starter.

Beer does not need to be a vehicle for “doing good,” but it gets extra credit when it does (as I started typing this sentence a tweet from James Schirmer buzzed on my phone, pointing to one such story). It’s easy to find stories when there are press releases and press conferences. It’s also more fun to write the feel good stories, the brewer who started out working as a server at the local brewpub who gets pour the first beer she wrote a recipe for.

But would be better if a hard question or two were asked, and answered. For instance, how many stories have you read about the role a brewpub (or several of them) played in upgrading a neighborhood? How many of them included anything about the people who used to live there? There’s a difference between improving a neighborhood and improving a community.

(I promise to feel guilty the rest of the day for not writing a post that actually tackles the hard stuff, but it’s a long way home and I have a plane to catch.)


Authenticity and the future of Belgian beer


First the important stuff

Meantime stretches authenticity of London Lager.
[Via Beer Insider]
#EBBC15 – Belgian Family Brewers and the Future of Belgian Beer Culture.
[Via Chris Hall | Beer Wrier]
And Chris Hall’s tweets from EBBC.
Questions about authenticity, heritage, transparency. Again. Here, to say that Meantime “stretches authenticity” is being kind — and lack of transparency leads to rumors like the one that the London-brewed Meantime London Lager was being blended with Grolsch to make it go farther. From the European Beer Bloggers Conference, Chris Hall managed to “live blog” the Belgian Family Brewers presentation, then followed with a series of tweets that made me think I’d like to see a transcript of the presentations and somebody really needs to profile Jean Hummler (unless you already did, @Thirsty_Pilgrim, and I missed it).

Yeast terminology, part 1.
Lovely yeast family tree, which helps make sense of sentences like this: “Brettanomyces is a genus, not a species.” [Via larsblog]

I will leave it to you to fill in REGION and BEER for the U.S., or maybe we just pencil IPA in for each one. [Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog]

A Beginner’s Guide to Drinking Beer in Belgium.
Belgian beer and Airbnb. How hip is that? A useful guide for THOSE who don’t want to visit along side a bunch of beer bloggers (see above). [Via First We Feast]

Tunbridge Brewery Plans to Stay Small.
“We don’t have plans to grow much bigger right now. We enjoy our day jobs, and don’t plan to leave them to go full time at the brewery. The next step for us is to start distributing kegs to area restaurants. We also hope to expand to other farmers markets as time allows.” But what are the consequences of taking that next step? [Via Valley News]

Craft beer scene yields to burgeoning local heroin industry.
“The local beer feel was getting awfully crowded, and even a little bit played out. There’s only so many ways to make an IPA, and once you started seeing tasting rooms opening up in East County, you knew it was time for the next thing.” Yes, at the point I am finding and passing along items like this is it seems fair to suggest I need to get out more. [Via San Diego Reader]


Is gentrification good for more expensive beer?

I’m just asking.

I’d like to see somebody investigate the relationship between the impact of a changing beer demographic and a changing city demographic. It seems interesting to me, maybe even important, but I’ve got things like brewing with bark and what was cream ale sold in New Orleans in 1856 like to sort out.

I thought about this because Next City points to a map tool that can “serve as gentrification warning system.” (Pretty easy to tell where they stand on gentrifcation.) And the example given is San Francisco, Ground Zero for what is now broadly and generally referred to as “craft beer.”

(If you are still with me, you might want to open Tom Paxton’s “Yuppies in the Sky” in a separate window.)

Basically, there is a Next Generation of Beer Drinkers (there always is) and there is plenty of generalizing about what Gen Y and Gen Z value. Is it going to bother young upperly mobile good beer drinking consumers that they are becoming pins on an “Urban Displacement Project” map? If so, what are they going to do about it?


Drinks bibles, ethics and other beery links


Why I Wrote ‘The Beer Bible’.
[Via All About Beer]
How To Write The Bible Of Wine: Karen MacNeil On The Craft Of Writing.
[Via Forbes]
The second link is included because a) some contrast between “The Wine Bible” and “The Beer Bible” should be obvious, and b) to point out “The Wine Bible” has sold a half million copies. Imagine the potential impact of “The Beer Bible.” Jeff Alworth writes, “Americans do brew differently — in an unprecedented fashion, in fact — and it wasn’t until I started seeing how the rest of the world does it that I understood how.” How is answered piece by piece throughout his book, but he provided some examples (via email). Here’s one, from a chapter labeled American Ales:

As American brewing evolved, it began to acquire the characteristics that now define it — and which can be seen acrosss styles and traditions. Americans brew for intensity, a penchant reflected particularly in high hop rates and alcohol strength, but more broadly in ales that are just a bit louder than comparable ales brewd in other countries.

I would not argue with this, but I must wonder if this is always as it must be.

Click on the date to read the conversation, and then proceed to the following links.

Nine Food-Related Companies That Are Changing the World.
[Via Eater}
The blogger blackmail saga.
[Via jamie goode’s wine blog]
How ‘The End of the Tour’ Nails an Entire Profession.
[Via The New Yorker]
The many aspects of ethics.

Guzzling 9,000 Years Of History With ‘The Comic Book Story Of Beer’.
If the authors don’t get every bit of history perfect, and what are the odds of that?, will the Internet cut them some slack because it is a comic book? Or will this from Mike Smith — “A lot of beer books tend to be very serious, and I think the comic medium allowed us to tell the story of beer with a degree of levity.” — land in an uncomfortable part of what he calls geek overlap? [Via npr]

The porter in Majorca tastes like what it oughter.
There are now seven craft breweries on the Mediterranean island of Majorca. More beer from a place. [Via Zythophile]

This Beer Used 77 Hop Varieties, But Not for the Reason You May Think.
Forget the “Guinness Book of World Records” stuff. Great Yorkshire Brewery in England brewed a beer it called Top of the Hops 2012 with what it claimed was 2,102 varieties, using plants that failed in trials at Wye Hops Limited in Kent. At the time, brewery director Joanne Taylor said the brewery wanted to support Peter Darby’s research at Wye. The mix included dwarf varieties, aphid-resistant types, plants with Russian and South African pedigrees, and hops derived from Fuggle and other British varieties. [Via This Is Why I’m Drunk]

HBC-438: New Hop Variety Just for Homebrewers.
This struck me as the biggest news to come out of the National Homebrewers Conference in June, so (even though I wasn’t there) I wrote about it for the AHA website. [Via American Homebrewers Association]

Recreating a classic London pub crawl.
[Via All About Beer]
Beer Awesomeness In, Er, 1908.
[Via beeretseq]
Two from the time capsule.

Nom de Bier – Beer Reviews as Told by Your Favorite Authors.
Going to be interesting to see what Oliver Gray manages to tell us the beers themselves. [Via Literature & Libation]

‘Peak TV in America’: Is there really too much good scripted television?
Anybody for Peak Beer? [Via HitFix]

And this week’s award for best use of more than 11,000 words goes to . . .

10 New Orleanians on How Katrina Changed Their City.
Not beer. Important. [Via Next City]


Anchor Steam 1962. Already sincere.

Anchor Steam, 1962

You might recall that six weeks ago Joe Stange suggested we consider the concept of postmodern (and post-postmodern) beer and wrote about “a return to sincerity.”

It seems that Anchor Steam beat us to the punch.

This from a July 14, 1962 story in the San Rafael Daily Independent Journal (three years before Fritz Maytag bought Anchor Brewing):

Steam Beer is naturally carbonated; neither additives nor presevatives become it. “The Sincere Beer,” it is called by some.

It is truly a “health food,” its devotees assert, containing more malt and hops than other beers, and without corn or rice to lighten it.

Of course the story also explains that steam beer might have been called steam beer because a “‘Doctor Steam’ (whose first name has been given variously as Frank, Heintz, or Charles) invented the process.”


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