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Beer links, musing 04.17.17: Categories vs. appellations

What's the next beer style on the rise? CBC 2017Monday musing and linking began in 2008 as a way to stay in touch during our semi sabbatical, but there hae often times I am not sure what reality I am in touch with. So rather than force the issue, next Monday there will be no links because I will be in Brazil. And I understand that because most of this week’s links were collected while I was in the midst of the rather insular experience of the Craft Brewers Conference they might look different in bright sunlight.

Gonzofest literary contest winner: The Great American Smoker.
Larry Bell said Monday he’s not sure when he last missed a Chicago Cubs’ home opener (which was Monday), but he thought it was important to be at CBC even though the company hums along fine with a minimum of intervention on his part. There are a lot more parties at CBC (and the Great American Beer Festival) these days, bigger, sometimes more lavish, more everything. Well, maybe not more fun. [Via Leo Weekly]

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Monday beer links: ‘Nonsense; unrelenting nonsense’


FRESHNESS: Can we stop?
“Except it is nonsense; unrelenting nonsense. Suddenly we’re drinking beers unprepared, unconditioned and unfit for consumption. And we’re lapping it up; exclaiming the virtues of de-malted hop water as if the Ancient Babylonians had it wrong from the beginning. It is as though beer only needed one added ingredient aside from water – those green leafy cones – and that the fermentation stage was never an added necessity. Alcoholic leaves became the future of beer; as if yellow bananas were now no good and the bitter skin tasting unripened green variety were preferable.” [Via Beer Compurgation]

In Praise of Budweiser.
This is not click bait. “I didn’t want to be challenged, I didn’t want to prove my craft credentials and feel worthy of drinking a beer, I didn’t want to wrap my head round a muddle of flavours and aromas that may or may not have been intentional. I wanted a lager that was expertly brewed, technically solid, and through which quality brewing science shone, and this was that beer in that moment.” [Via Fuggled]

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Significant beer digits iv

Hells Gate BreweryThe rate at which exotic, artisanal, expensive beer sales are growing may have slowed, but it’s not clear when brewery openings may. Bart Watson’s string of tweets Monday made that clear, beginning with this: “The new TTB license data has all sorts of jaw dropping stats. Take NY – now has 420 licenses (#3 in absolute terms), more than US until ’93.”

Licenses do not always translate into operating breweries (of course). The final 2016 numbers are not in, but in 2015 there were 208 craft breweries in New York and they brewed 1,086,718 barrels. Folding in production at Genesse/North American breweries triples the total, but it still doesn’t match production almost 140 years ago. In 1879 New York’s 365 breweries produced 3,980,716 barrels. At the time the state had a population of not quite 2 million; now it has 20 million residents.

George Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery in New York City was the largest brewery in the country in 1879, selling 180,152 barrels. Missouri and Wisconsin would soon become brewing centers, but at the time New York ruled.

In fact, New York City breweries produced more beer than any other state, with 78 breweries making 1,894,668 barrels, and 45 Brooklyn breweries 544,896 more barrels. NYC had 13 breweries that sold more than 50,000 barrels and an additional 21 that brewed at least 20,000.


Monday beer links: The smell of beer, pubs & controversies


A Beer Lover’s Pregnancy, Part VI: The Smell of Beer
There’s a reason breweries employ so many women on their tasting panels: On average, women detect odors at lower concentrations, are more likely to rate smells as more intense and unpleasant, and are better able to identify them by name. But there are times that’s not such a good thing. [Via Hop Culture]

Hardnott past present and future
Here’a a dose of reality anybody thinking of starting a brewery should read. “In reality, the most obvious thing to do would be just to wind up our operation. Ditch the dream of making a successful competitive, exciting and unique craft brewery as just a ridiculous idea that cannot work commercially from where we are. The market information does not make it look great; with the increasing competition, dropping wholesale pricing and increasing costs like no tomorrow. Stopping production that actually costs us money to keep doing, selling all our equipment and binning Hardknott often seems the only logical thing to do.” [Via HardKnott Dave’s beer and stuff blog]

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If Alanis Morissette were a beer, [fill in the blank]

Make what you will of this (because the point is not to discuss Alanis Morissette’s music), think of a beer from the 1990s and rewrite the sentence in your head.

Most of the top music from the 1990s, such as say Alanis Morissette, would sound current if released today, a sign of cultural stasis in what was once a highly socially charged and rapidly changing sector.

Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft BeerContext: “Once We Listened to the Beatles. Now We Eat Beetles” at Bloomberg, which Tyler Cowen pointed to (“Food has replaced music as culturally central, at least for America’s professional class”) at Marginal Revoluation. Best to read the original article, but the juicy comments are at Marginal Revolution.

More context: I’ve just started reading Untapped: Exploring the Cultural Dimensions of Craft Beer, which is thoroughly engaging and should reframe a lot of conversations about beer, pre-Jack McAuliffe or post. As a journalist I’m not sure how I feel about this from this from the foreword — “As sociologists examine these trends, they bring insights that journalistic interpretations often gloss over” — but the sentence provides a reader with a good idea what to expect.

Premise: Beer is food.

I’ll leave you to consider the question at the top — cultural stasis/beer stasis ~ 1995/2017 ~ “IPA? What’s with all this bitterness?”/”IPA? Where’d all the bitterness go?”

Instead I direct you to Erik’s comments (and not only because he too wonders how current Alanis Morissette sounds).

Music stopped being culturally significant when we stopped listening together and instead had complete autonomy and privacy in our musical choices.

Food is still somewhat aspirational – most of us can’t afford to eat at the best restaurants in the world, or to find authentic versions of traditional foods around the world, nor do we have the skill to perfectly recreate it. That makes food a challenge and makes it the stuff of legend and fantasy. It is also something we still tend to share with others.

Just more to think about as I make my way through Untapped (no that Untappd).

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