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Stop me before I link again, a busy week in beer reading


Elysian, Anheuser-Busch, and the Fight for the Soul of Seattle’s Beer.
A profile of Dick Cantwell. “He was the sole nay vote in Elysian Brewing’s sale to Anheuser-Busch. Now the brewer’s legacy is at the center of the battle for the soul of Seattle beer.” Drop it in Pocket, take the time to enjoy it. [Via SeattleMet]

‘What Beer Costs’ — Why we need more flexibility in the market.
It looks to me as if there is a fair amount of flexibility in the market as is, but I don’t see the point of people complaining about the price of any particular beer. As Stephen Beaumont pointed out one of the times this debate popped up years ago there are people out there willing to pay these high-end prices. That’s the bottom line. [Via Good Beer Hunting]

How Brewers Are Churning Out Inexpensive Tangy Sours.
Beware the kettle sour beer.
We begin the sour portion of these links with two views of kettle souring. People get really worked up about this. [Via Denver Post and OBP]

Why Brew Gose Instead of Mild?
During the GABF awards ceremony a week again Saturday Jonathan Cutler from Piece Brewery in Chicago leaned back after he saw that there were 111 entries in the German-style sour ale category and said, “There were about a dozen when I judged them a few years ago.” In fact, there were only 13 entries in 2009. This reflects more interest in brewing Berliner Weiss as well as Gose. [Via Boak & Bailey]

Power Of Sour: How Tart Is Reclaiming Turf From Sweet.
How wild is your beer?
Two more parts to the story of “wild and sour.” Food and what does it mean to call a beer wild? (The second story links back to the NPR one, bringing us full circle – pretty impressive, right?) [Via NPR and All About Beer]

Dear Guinness: Here’s How Not to Debut Your Crappy New Guinness Nitro IPA.
Brilliant. [Via fooboz, h/T Stephen Beaumont]

The story behind first Alabama beer to win a Great American Beer Festival medal in 5 years.
Somewhere Fred Eckhardt is smiling. [Via]

2 Beers 2 Pops – Kids are drinking in Germany.
“Finally, I awakened to this surreal experience going on next to me. The oldest youngster had a beer in front of her bigger than mine, or so it seemed. She looked like she was 14, 15? I have no idea but she was clearly not 21. Kids can drink beer as early as 16 in Germany – and this is the basis for my story.” [Via SommBeer, h/t Joe Stange]

Whalez Bro: A big problem for beer geek culture.
“You will never learn more about beer if you treat it as an item to be collected, rather than a beverage to be enjoyed.” [Via The Portland Phoenix]

Great American Beer Festival versus BeerGraphs.
I’ll cut right to the question in the conclusion: “As much as these are well-respected judges with well-trained taste buds, they come with a much smaller sample than the statistics on our leaderboards. They move faster and can tell you something in a smaller sample, but once you get thousands of people to weigh in on a beer… would you still take the opinion of a small group of judges over thousands of ratings?” But I really like this in the comments: “This is like comparing a baseball players WAR to his fantasy value.” Definitely written from deep in the rabbit hole looking up. [Via BeerGraphs]

Beer as an agent of change.
“It takes bricks and people to build a neighborhood, but don’t forget to bring along the beer.” [Via Joe Sixpack]

And a new game that can be played in the US as well as the UK …


The Session #104 roundup posted

The SessionAlan McLeod has posted the roundup for The Session #104 with a headline that asks “Eulogy Or Revival?”

Lots of nice words in there and it would appear the answer to the question is b) Revival. If you flip on over to the lineup of Sessions past and Sessions future you’ll see five volunteers have stepped up to host, suggesting that we’ll all have something to do the first Friday of each month if we want.

So I think what Alan wrote at the end is appropriate.

It doesn’t demand everyone post every month – even though I have. It doesn’t even demand that everyone reads every post. It doesn’t demand anything in fact. It just keeps rolling along, noticing the flow of ideas, tracing the track of a discourse organically. I like it. I hope it continues. It it doesn’t continue I might continue it anyway. It’s not like anyone can turn it off. And it’s not like beer blogging was ever popular or was ever going to be. Remember: no one ever promised that being popular was going to be part of thinking about beer more than the next guy and then writing openly about it … for free.

I look forward to seeing what everybody brings to the conversation Nov. 6.


The Session #104: The failure of beer blogging?

The SessionAlan McLeod has stepped in at the last moment to host the 104th gathering of The Session. And he expects an answer to this question: If we just “take the philosophical approach, that the Session has run its course”* aren’t we really admitting that beer blogging is a massive failure?

* That’s me being quoted.

I think the answer is no. Obviously, or I wouldn’t compile a weekly list of links to good reading (not all are blogs, of course). Or otherwise post here.

When I suggested to a group of bloggers, including Alan, that The Session might be fun I wasn’t thinking a year down the road, let alone eight-plus. If it lives on (I voted yes in the poll Jay Brooks posted) I will continue to participate, and volunteered to play host again. But if it goes away beer blogging is no less successful than it was last month.

I don’t know how “success” should be defined in this matter. But for starters, the blogging platform has made a bunch of people more aware of the work of Ron Pattinson and Martyn Cornell. That in turn has raised the bar for writing accurately about beer history. However that’s blogging, not The Session.

If this is part of a wake, as was suggested somewhere (but I lost the link), then here’s a pleasant memory. It is the first entry from the roundup of the first Session.

Young’s Oatmeal Stout
a head tall and firm
like whole wheat pancake batter
atop darkest stout

Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
the old Yeti howls
as he breaks from his oak cage
and threatens to bite

Written by Captain Hops

Beer Haiku Daily ceased publishing March 9, 2013, and ceased to be daily before that. It was not a failure.


‘This is my GABF’

Nick Arzner, Block 15It was March of 2011 and Nick Arzner interrupted a story he was telling about the logistics of installing a coolship in the basement of a place built in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1926. He pulled aside a large piece of plywood that separated two rooms from the others in the labyrinth beneath the dining area of Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery, which he and his wife opened in 2008.

“We’re two years into it, and we’re infants,” he had said heading down the narrow stairs. He brought the coolship down in parts, assembling it in the second of two wild rooms behind the makeshift door. The rooms already contained more than 50 barrels, filled with mixed fermentations.

Arzner explained he’d done the math and decided rather than participating in the Great American Beer Festival — a rite of passage for many new breweries — each year he would invest the money it would cost in his brewery. Walking into the room with his coolship, he said, “This is my GABF.”

This year he entered beers for the first time. Turbulent Consequence, Peche won gold in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category.

Arzner wasn’t there. He wrote in an email he’d like to some day, but “our small team was too busy to get away.” Block 15 opened a second 20-barrel brewery and tap room during the summer, expanding its non-wild barrel program and distribution of its hop-forward beers.

He wrote that the gold medal beer comes out of his Turbulent Consequence program, which is based on traditional lambic production methods. The grist is unmalted wheat and pilsner malts “that undergo our best efforts of a turbid mash.” Aged hops are added during a long boil, and then the wort is transferred into the coolship for 24 hours. It is racked into oak barrels, where it undergoes spontaneous fermentation. Peche is blended once a year. “I choose barrels in the late summer to add white peaches that I pick with my wife and daughter,” he wrote. “I then mature the barrels another six of so months until the correct aroma, flavors, and acidity are developed.”

He chose well.

“We are inviting what’s around us to be in our beer,” Arzner said back in 2011. “I think we want to get to the point where people say, ‘Yeah, that comes from the Block 15 barrel program. There’s something in there I know.'”


Beer links from outside the GABF bubble


During a brief conversation Saturday morning before the Great American Beer Festival awards ceremony, Saint Arnold Brewing co-founder Brock Wagner said, “We take this view of this business with blinders on. It’s easy for us to see this as the world (itself).” He was talking in more general terms than the madness inside the Colorado Convention Center, but it was a reminder how disorienting GABF can be. So recognizing that more than a billion Chinese were not live streaming the awards ceremony Saturday, this week’s links are GABF free.

Craft Beer and the Rise of the Celebrity Brewer.
Vanity Fair discovers a topic discussed in the beer blogosphere and on discussion boards for more than a decade. Nonetheless, here is something to think about: “Someone who stops Ken Grossman in the street, however, does so because he or she admires his craft, not his media persona. The connection between brewer and consumer is much more intimate — rooted in the six-pack picked up from the grocery store or the growler handed to the host of a party — than most intangible celebrity/fan relationships.” [Via Vanity Fair]

Locally Grown Barley Means Truly Local Beer.
Skagit Valley Malting is working with Washington State University’s Bread Lab to provide small-batch, locally grown malted barley. I was disappointed that Pike Brewing wasn’t at GABF this year, because I would have liked to have tasted Skagit Valley Alba pale ale. [Via Seattle Magazine]

Why the Purchase of Your Favourite Brewery Doesn’t Matter, and Why it Does!
Perhaps you have seen a T-shirt that reads, “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet.” Maybe somebody should be selling one that reads, “I drink beer from breweries too small for ABI to consider buying.” [Via Beaumont Drinks]

Yuengling Brewery Chief’s Daughters Work to Become His Successors.
It’s a video. [Via The New York Times]

An American Conquistador — Tony Magee’s Mexico.
A complicated business story, nicely explained. “‘They have a fairly complex system of incentives,’ explains Esteban Silva of Cerveceria de Colima, one of the region’s craft breweries on the Pacific coast at the foot of a volcano. ‘If you sell a certain number of cases of any beer, they give you back cash or free cases. The same is applied to new beers in the portfolio. Lagunitas and all the beers under the portfolio for Heineken will likely be part of the incentive packages of these companies as well.’ In the U.S., this is the definition of pay-to-play, but in Mexico, it’s part of the fabric of the beer industry, and part of why the top two players have controlled it for nearly 70 years.” [Via Good Beer Hunting]

Tips from a first-time (beer) swapper.
Passed along as a public service. [Via BeerGraphs]

The Cask Report 2015: Why Pubs Need Cask Ale Drinkers.
The ninth edition of the Cask Report Pete Brown has written, with some thoughts on what’s happened to the market over the time he’s been doing the report. [Via Pete Brown]

Wine O’Clock, Beer O’Clock and the Changing Language of Drinking.
Wine and beer o’clock are among the pioneers of a new online drinking language, one that speaks to a kind of consumption that happens primarily for show. They’re infinitely hashtaggable (140,000 and 100,000 Instagram results, respectively), and have served as the basis of countless memes, all of which work to turn the simple act of relaxing with a drink into a full-fledged ritual.” [Via Punch]

When It Comes To Book Sales, What Counts As Success Might Surprise You.
“No one likes to see the word ‘poverty level’ on a survey that has anything to do with people you know,” says Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild. “You used to be able to make an absolutely living wage as a writer. You wrote essays and you published them in journals. You wrote magazine pieces and you got paid very well for those. And you wrote books and you got good advances. So being a writer, it didn’t usually mean you would be rich, but it had meant in the past that you could support yourself.”

I pretty much came across as a curmudgeon last year at “Craft Writing: Beer, The Digital, and Craft Culture” when talked a little bit about these challenges (including surprisingly low sales of some beer books), and things obviously haven’t got any better. However, like all things, there is a “traditional” part to the story and an alternative, in this case self publishing. [Via npr, h/T Jacob Grier]


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