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Weekly beer links: International edition

MONDAY BEER AND WINE LINKS, MUSING, 05.22.17

Pay no attention to that elephant in the room. More long (and I dare I suggest passionate?) screeds this past week related to AB InBev and buyouts in general. But there is a whole world of beer out there . . .

RUSSIA

Burnt by the sun.
This is from last summer, but it just hit my radar. “Defying centuries of Christianisation, the Chuvash are still largely a pagan people with colourful rituals and a pantheon of gods that make ancient Greece look like a spiritual backwater.” And they grow hops. Not like in the 1980s, but there is a plan. [Via Calvert Journal]

SOUTH AFRICA

The true import of South African hops.
Yes, that is the elephant over there, but last week I suggested a conversation about South African hops should include South Africa and now somebody has. [Via All About Beer]

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Two essential beer books remain essential

How to Brew - old and new

“Brewing technology does not stand still.” – John Palmer, 2017.

Amen.

Author John Palmer prefaces the fourth edition of How To Brew with an explanation of not only how it is different than the version published 11 years ago, but why. He wrote the first edition, which appeared online in 2000, for people brewing beer in order to enjoy styles that otherwise were not available. In contrast, “Today’s homebrewer is brewing for the pure pleasure of creating a beer, rather than to fill a void in availability. Therefore, my focus in this latest edition is to help you understand how to brew the best beer.”

How to Brew is one of two thoroughly revised essential beer books published this spring. The mission of the other, Tasting Beer remains the same. “In a concise and visual way, this book aims to introduce you to the wide world of beer and to give you the tools to understand and, more importantly, enjoy it,” author Randy Mosher writes on the second page of each edition. He also provides more tools, and more visuals. The beer aroma spiral on the right is an example. If you’ve ever spent time with the Beer Flavor Wheel you know it is complicated and focuses as much on faults as words that help you identify the aromas and flavors you like. I prefer concise and visual.

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A journalist, an entrepreneur and a sociologist walk into a bar

Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft BeerPete Slosberg devotes a chapter in Beer for Pete’s Sake to his brewery’s battles with Anheuser-Busch. He tells a series of amusing stories, including one pitting his dog, Millie, against Budweiser’s Spuds MacKenzie, and in each of them Pete’s Brewing Company was David. Anheuser-Busch was Goliath.

In the early 1990s Pete’s was the second largest of a new wave of breweries that had outgrown the micro tag and now were described as craft. Its sales peaked at 425,000 barrels in 1996, but it was still the second largest craft brewery in 1998 when the Gambrinus Company bought it. Slosberg remained for two years and it would be another dozen before the brand eventually died. On the jacket of the book, published in 1998, he is described as “a brewing maverick, a brilliant entrepreneur, and iconoclast, and a marketing icon.” As important, he took “a path that led him from (my emphasis) a corporate career to doing what he loves.”

This was, and in many cases still is, a familiar story. Hate your job? Become a brewer. This is an example of why J. Nikol Beckham writes in a new collection of essays that “the microbrew revolution’s success can be understood in part as the result of a mystique cultivated around a group of men who were ambitious and resourceful enough to ‘get paid to play’ and to capitalize upon the productive consumption of fans/customers who enthusiastically invested in this vision.” The title of this fourth chapter in Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimension fo Craft Beer is a mouthful: “Entrepreneurial Leisure and the Microbrew Revolution: The Neoliberal Origins of the Craft Beer Movement.” Not surprisingly, there’s a considerable amount to define and discover en route to Beckham’s conclusion.

It is worth the time to get there, because it broadens our understanding of the culture and business of beer— where its been, where it is, where its going. In Untapped’s foreword, Ian Malcom Tyson writes, “As sociologists examine these trends, they bring insights that journalistic interpretations often gloss over. They provide nuanced answers to far-ranging questions of how seemingly commonplace products such as beer can have such a fascinating esoteric heritage.” As a journalist I am sure how I feel about that, but I appreciate reading what somebody else sees when they tilt the glass sideways.

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Beer links 05.15.17: ABI & ABI-free

There’s enough op-ed in several of these posts I’ll mostly forego musing this week.

EVIL EMPIRE (UNLESS IT’S NOT) RELATED

Killing Craft? AB InBev Blocks Sale of South African Hops to American Craft Brewers.
[Via Craft Beer & Brewing]
AB InBev is Coming for All Your Hops, Unless They Aren’t.
[Via This is Why I’m Drunk]
I will be in South Africa in July. Although we won’t be near the hop growing region I hope to talk to some farmers, because I haven’t seen a report in which somebody does. After all, they are central to the story. (Added May 16: Lucy Corne reports from South Africa for All About Beer.)

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