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Session #113 announced: Pub observations

The SessionBoak & Bailey are asking bloggers to “take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe” for the 113th gathering of The Session (July 1).

Their inspiration is The Pub and The People, published in 1943.

What should you be looking for?

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

And the point? “As a chaser, after your observations, write whatever you like spurred by the idea of ‘The Pub and The People’. Really, whatever you like, as vaguely related to theme as it might be. Or instead of making any observations, even.”


Monday beer links: Sahti, hyperlocal, millennials, hoplore


Sahti – What Can We Learn From a Farmhouse Brewer?
There’s a lot here. For instance: “Since house strains for baking and brewing could have been the same, I have been testing how the traditional sourdough starters ferment sahti. So far I have been able to revive one functional brewing strain from a at least decades old baking strain. This particular strain delivers surprisingly neutral malty taste. I will continue to hunt and test traditional baking strains and hopefully in future I encounter more distinctive strains.” [Via Maltainen, h/T @larsga]

Two Brewers Admit Their Methods for Haze.
On the subject of sourdough strains, the “wild” strain at Scratch Brewing in southern Illinois is in fact its sourdough starter. To use it directly means adding a bit of flour to beer, which sometimes settles out (with time) but other times does not. But I am having a problem wrapping my head around the idea of adding flour to beer for the sake of appearance. Haven’t they heard of Tanal A? [Via BeerGraphs]

We’ve seen the future, and it is hyperlocal craft beer.
This leaves me wondering how hyperlocal and the Next Big Thing coexist. “The whole craft beer market has taken on a certain Silicon Valley (or Kendall Square) vibe. You can see the parallels in Lamplighter. They’ve spent years building their product in dorm rooms and basements. Their market is young, desirable, and growing. They think their product — the sours and Brett-fermented beers — has the potential to be the Next Big Thing. And, without having tasted a drop of their beers, droves of hopeful employees are e-mailing them about job openings, happy to start at the bottom if it means a toehold in the industry. In other words, they sound like your typical new Cambridge business: a hot, young startup.” [Via Boston Globe]

Is It OK Not To Be OK With Brewery Takeovers in 2016?.
So after the hyperlocal brewery that captured your affection grows into a local brewery, then a regional brewery, and then a regional brewery big and popular enough to be acquired . . . what next? The straw man that Boak & Bailey mention, that might be me. At least sort of. I am less focused on whether the beer changes than on what happens to the local connection. [Via Boak & Bailey]

Your Handy Guide to Explain Why Millennials Are So Important to Beer.
If you don’t understand why brewing companies big enough to have marketing budgets want the attention of drinkers of prime consumption age then this is an excellent primer. Ultimately, at least we hope, there has to be more than a marketing message. And if people who have been assigned to this demographic put value on local (there’s that workd again), racial diversity, religion, gender equality, those are things that are hard to fake. [Via This Is Why I Am Drunk]

Living in Isolation: How Elitism is Alienating Macro Beer Fans.
This may be true: “Craft beer fanatics are now considered so insufferable as to have developed into a recurring punch line on television shows. Want to signal to the audience that a character is an unbearable jerk? Put a six-pack of fancy beer in his hand as he walks into the party. Worse yet, have him try and offer one of his high priced beauties to another character and then watch him get flatly rejected.” But television is not real life. And I’m not convinced that it is the “Bud bashing” that offends real people, but the whole idea that beer is so frigging important, because it isn’t to them. [Via Beer Advocate]

Hoplore, a defense of stories.
The question that Tiah Edmunson-Morton asks here isn’t that different from one journalists also need to consider. “There is a bit to pause and think about here: being a participant observer. For her that meant participating in the Agrarian hop harvest as a volunteer and being hired by Agrarian as a paid employee, but also working at Independence Heritage Festival and and doing a community survey. I often feel this same distance as an archivist working with living and evolving social, cultural, agricultural communities. I go to festivals or on tours, but I always have a certain ‘documentarian’ distance. I might attend, but as the curator of this archive do I actually participate?” I wrote about Tiah has year for DRAFT magazine, and in reporting the story I talked to Paul Eisloeffel of the Nebraska State Historical Society, who is an advocate for proactive collecting. “It is important for archivists to be able to look at what’s happening in a culture and start collecting now,” he said. But the act of collecting itself has the potential to change what happens going forward. Tricky balance. {Via thebrewstorian]

The five tribes of US wine buyers and the ROI of social media.
Are beer tribes any different? [Via Harpers]



The Session #111 recapped, #112 announced

The SessionHost Oliver Gray has recapped The Session #111 (part one, and awaiting part two), and in the process noted that rather than calling what he was experiencing a mid-life crisis perhaps it should be called a mid-hobby crisis.

And host Carla Jean Lauter has announced the topic for The Session #112 on June 3 will be “The Other Beer Economy.”

Growing alongside of the boom of breweries are many small businesses that are supporting, or supported by the craft beer industry. Maine is now home to a malt processing facility, and several hop farms. There are multiple beer tourism-focused businesses that help connect visitors to the state’s best beer offerings. There are companies that create beer-related apparel for beer fans, some that have designed unique bottle openers and manufacture them in-state. Maine is also home to a company that manufactures and installs brewing equipment, and another whose sole mission is to clean the lines that serve up that beer to thirsty beer fans.

I would suggest that Ben Keene, managing editor at Beer Advocate, might be mining Session #112 for ideas. BA has an occasional “Will Work for Beer” feature (disclosure: I’ve written a couple) that covers basically the same territory.

Session #111 announced: Beer mid-life crisis

The SessionHost Oliver Gray has announced the topic for the 111th gathering of The Session on May 6. He writes, “I’m having a beer mid-life crisis, yo.” And so …

All that talk of beer bubbles might prove true, but instead of a dramatic *pop* we’ll might see a slow deflation followed by a farting noise as some of the air leaks out and the hobbyist move on the spend their time and dollars elsewhere. It’s impossible to see the future, but if my fall from rabid beer fanboy to dude-who-drinks-beer-and-sort-of-wants-to-be-left-alone is indicative of a trend, I’ve got some signs to make a doomsaying to do.

What say you?

Do you find it hard to muster the same zeal for beer as you did a few years ago? Are you suffering through a beer-life crisis like I am? If so, how do you deal with it?

I don’t mean to pick on Oliver, but when I saw his tweet — “I’m hosting the Session again in May. Topic? Beer Mid-Life Crisis. It’s exactly what it sounds like.” — my first thought was, “Mid-life crisis? You are a pup.” I do hope some bloggers in his age class, as opposed to mine, tackle this question.

The Session #110: What would the Beerhunter tweet?

The SessionThe topic for Session #110 topic is Twitter. And, among other things, host Sean Inman suggested considering “brevity and how it affects writing about beer.” I’m not sure the example Inman uses, a long thought that Ray Daniels broke into tweetable parts, is the best example. He didn’t try to condense it into one 140-character passage (or even two or three).

In another life, I was briefly in charge of a newspaper photo department. Photos are often a better way to tell a story — you know, the picture is worth . . . thing — but newspapers have a finite amount of space. So there were conversations with questions like, “Can you tell this story in five pictures? Three?” Some of the most powerful stories turned out to be just a few photos, or even one. Or consider the first time we saw Joe Ely perform Robert Earl Keen’s “The Road Goes on Forever” and he introduced it as a novel in 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The lyrics fit on a t-shirt. I know; I own one.

Twitter can work that way, striking a blow for brevity. But often a tweet includes a summary of something longer and a link to the rest. So is that really brevity? For the Craft Writing conference in Lexington, Kentucky, a couple years ago I put together these pseudo tweets from Michael Jackson. Pardon the less than perfect artwork and the fact that they don’t include links to longer articles. I think you get the point.

Michael Jackson Beer Hunter tweets

The first excerpt came from a story Jackson wrote for Slow magazine (from Slow Food) that no longer seems to be available online. The second from his last book. The first gets a lot better within the context of the story, but the second stands alone.

Here are three more that could stand alone, but also make you want to read more:

“Ales are a persecuted minority.”

“It was a great night of drinking Gose, but I am not sure it did much for my sexual potency.”

“Is alcohol good or bad? We have had it for thousands of years, and still don’t seem to know.”

And so I am left wondering. Should a tweet leave you wanting more? Or should it stand on its own?


To confuse me further, there was this in The Beer Nut’s contribution to The Session: “I’m a big fan of the microblogging platform and it has certainly had a huge impact on the beer scene, even though a lot of that is to the detriment of blogs.” Is that true? Or true some places, not others? Is it function of form or function? John has given me plenty to think about.

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