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27 Responses to If a beer can have soul, does that mean others are soulless? (eom)

  1. Alan May 10, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Soulless? Not sure that that is the opposite of soul but of having a soul. Beer cannot have a soul any more than any other inanimate object. The yeast may be alive in certain bottles and casks but you have to go a long way down the PETA path to get to the soul of a yeast cell. The opposite of soul is maybe rather a hole as in “if you don’t like the blues you gotta have a hole in your soul.” But then we have to be careful not to culturally appropriate. Soul food does not imply soul this or that also exists. Can I have car tires with soul? One should ask the source of soul food if beer can have soul. I suspect a certain number of the Southern Baptist ladies who sit on the shadowy “Council of Soul” would frown rather deeply on the idea but perhaps the consumers of the soul food would disagree. Further, it is self-evident that “beer with soul” would have to avoid the promotion of the deadly sins and I am not sure craft beer passes muster when it comes to gluttony, acedia, vainglory or the daddy of them all pride.

    I could go on. But you know that.

  2. Stan Hieronymus May 10, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Obviously a dangerous conversation to start with you, Alan, but yeast, hop plants and barley all have genes . . .

  3. Peter H May 10, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Doesn’t this discussion violate the “It is only beer” rule?

  4. olllllo May 10, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Similarly, passion.

    About 41 seconds in (if you can get past passionfest) Vinnie and others talk about brewing the beers that they love. I guess some people have more passion and soul to spread around than others. Can you brew a beer without passion and get a soulful beer?

    I’m not here to pick on Mr Cilurzo. Of the dozens of beers by RR that I’ve had I can’t think of a one I didn’t like. Is he passionate about all of them? Do they all have soul? They were all damn fine.

    I think beers have stories. Some are marketing copy, but others are a compendium of tales verging on Biblical (stretch?). Can books have souls Alan?

  5. Stan Hieronymus May 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Peter – That I worried about that when I asked the question probably says I’m taking it too seriously.

  6. Alan May 10, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    The great thing about people is that I am quite certain they have souls. Really wonderful ones. I have not found the need to explore beyond those knowing I will never dip more than the tiniest tip of my toe in the water. I do not have the slightest inclination to anthropomorphize beer anymore than to confuse commerce with community and work ethic for passion.

    It is, yes, only beer. Beer is a very fine thing. I am having one now. I think it may even play a role, one day, in killing me but I will forgive it for the pleasures it has brought. But it is only beer.

  7. Mike May 11, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    I’m with Peter H. If beer has soul, then so does my glass of orange juice.

  8. Stan Hieronymus May 11, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    I no longer have a clue if we are speaking metaphor, metaphysically or philosophically. But, Mike, if beer does have soul, yes, so does orange juice.

  9. Steve May 11, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    Nine replies and not one comparison to music. Does Al Green like beer?

  10. Mike May 11, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    Stan, I read the orange juice article and fail to see what it has to do with soul. All I can say is, if James Brown could read this, he’d be turning in his grave.

  11. Mike Kallenberger May 11, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Well, in my mind all souls are metaphors. (Aren’t you glad I opened THAT can of worms, Stan?) Beer has deep cultural meaning, gained through thousands of years of associations, and as far as I’m concerned that’s “soul.” I also believe sometimes “it’s just beer.” And so now I have to fall back on F. Scott Fitzgerald, who said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” (Of course, I think the reason I quote this so much is that, if this is truly the standard of intelligence, then I’m a genius.)

  12. Rob Paterson May 11, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Alan – Might some food/beer etc have a life? Pasteurized milk is a dead thing. Many foods are dead. Many artisan beers are alive. All suds are not.

    We are starting to see that foods that are alive are better for us – fermentation in particular is good for our gut and out gut is the centre of our immune system

  13. Stan Hieronymus May 11, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Thanks, Mike (K), agree that you and F. Scott Fitzgerald are on the right track. Also a reason to appreciate both the creative aspect (some would say art, but how many buzzwords before the comment thread blows up?) and science part of brewing.

    Rob, agreed.

  14. Mark May 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    IMHO, the “soul” of a being/object/idea is defined as the compilation of the series of events leading up to it, the blood/sweat/tears poured into it, and the people who have affected it. People, music, social movements, and yes BEER, all have souls. But to truly see into a soul is to delve so deeply into that being/object/idea that it changes you yourself (whoa. existentialism overload).

    As far as the soul of a beer is concerned, beers with a backstory and a fable to tell have soul. Beers with passionate, committed brewers have soul. Beers that come from the smallest brewery with the least resources, as well as beers from giants of the industry, have a soul. The beauty is that they are all different, and getting to know a beer is alike to knowing a person or knowing a body of musical work (like James Brown’s discography).

    Q.E.D., hell yes, beer has soul. You just have to do a little searching.

  15. Steve May 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    “Q.E.D., hell yes, beer has soul. You just have to do a little searching.”

    Heh – heh, mercy, mercy, mercy.

    Oh, wait — isn’t that Jazz? Can Beer have Soul and Jazz? Yes, I believe it can.

    Weekend now, I believe I’ll “take five.”

  16. Jeff Alworth May 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Beers don’t have souls–but I’m a Buddhist, I would say that.

  17. Mike Kallenberger May 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    I’ll second what Mark said.

  18. Alan May 12, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    I am Scots Presbyterian and I would say that too, Jeff!

    I think the real problem with what Mark suggests is that it is self defined and, therefore, with respect not capable of discussion. One might as well use another word like “legs” as in “beer has legs!” and we all ask ourselves whether the legs are long or simply well proportioned. Let’s dwell on its width, say, too. “I have a 3 Monts biere de garde last night and man was it wiiiiiiiiiiide!” Leggy wide.

  19. Mike Kallenberger May 12, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    I guess I have to disagree, Alan. Subjectivity is what makes for a truly interesting and lively discussion. But we talk a lot about “beer culture,” and culture is often defined as a set of commonly accepted meanings (though there’s still room for individual interpretation, sure). I think it’s fair to say that Mark’s use of “soul” falls into this category — even though the current discussion proves it’s not universally accepted — but your example of “legs” doesn’t.

  20. Stan Hieronymus May 12, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    You want to talk legs? These are legs.

    The bar at the Rivershack Tavern in New Orleans.

  21. Alan May 12, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    You can’t accept one meaningless analogy but reject another. That only adds arbitrariness to the disfunction. Discouse is neither as wide or leggy as that.

  22. Sam May 13, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    So, was this blog post really just a title or am I missing something?

    ooh. This is a tough one (answering the title). Is what the microbrewer does any different from AB-InBev in regards to soul? They both have a flavor they want to achieve, and hopefully meet it. Who’s standards do they live up to? Who is more connected to the agricultural products that they use? How was the recent rice harvest?

  23. Jason Yester aka 'Saison Man' May 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    At Trinity, we brew a rich English Horkey Ale that we call ‘Soul’ 🙂

  24. Third Street May 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm #


  25. Jason Yester aka 'Saison Man' May 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm #


  26. Andrew May 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Beer, like life, only has the soul/meaning/value that we attribute to it.

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