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Monday beer links: Context for authentic, Anchor, and what’s lost


First, thanks to Alan McLeod for getting into the Monday linking business while I was out of it.

How capitalism cornered the market on authenticity.
Christine Sismondo — who wrote the terrific book America Walks into a Bar — tosses some history at a few words in vogue these days, like traditional and authentic.

The call to return to ‘traditional values,’ which includes taking aim at women in the workforce and denying people access to abortion and assaults on same-sex marriage and transgender rights, among other things, is part of the same anti-modern impulse, albeit a fairly extreme expression. Then there’s the current religious revivalism; a nearly obsessive love of medieval fantasy books, films, television and games; an obsession with all things ‘craft’ and the never-ending quest to find the most authentic of everything, from travel destination to taco.

[Via The Washington Post]

What the Anchor Brewing deal means for craft beer.
[Via San Francisco Chronicle]
Anchors up and away.
[Via The Beer Hunter]
The first story I read about Japanese brewing company Sapporo buying Anchor Brewing is still the best I have found. I am waiting for one that polls regular Anchor drinkers or a new interview with Fritz Maytag. Instead, crazily enough, the best historic context (concise and linkable) resides within something Michael Jackson wrote almost 30 years ago.

The story has become a folk tale, as well it might. How often does a customer buy a company to save a product from extinction? What more important product than beer could inspire such boldness? The yarn of Fritz and the Brewery is often spun. Every society knows instinctively that it must pass on its lore to each new generation, so that they may understand the travails and achievements of humankind.

Craft Beer FUBU – or – Why People Get Upset When Breweries Get Sold.
Zak Avery emerges from a cave somewhere in the Aleutian Islands, keyboard in hand, first of all explaining he has been absent “largely because I haven’t had anything constructive to say. That doesn’t stop many bloggers, but I really got to a point where I felt I’d said everything useful.” I have 267 (counted Sunday) feeds in a category I call “beer” at Feedly, compared to a dozen wine feeds. Many of them are to blogs long gone, but since they don’t post they don’t clog anything up and I don’t feel the need to weed. Maybe it is wishful thinking, but I hope there are more interesting words being written about beer than I am seeing, because otherwise there is a lot of sameness. Boak & Bailey made this same point several months ago in their weekly roundup, citing, if I recall correctly, stories about new breweries. Shiny and new no longer counts as unique, or interesting to read about. The same it true about almost any “big” topic. I’m not sure I have a point, because Zak’s words are related to a topic already beaten to death, and they nonetheless offer clarity.

I can’t define craft beer, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s For Us, By Us. So every time ABInBev, or SABMiller, or Constellation, or some faceless group of investors buy another independent bit of the industry (and it’s happening at production, distribution and retail levels) and pass it into consortium ownership, I stop and have a long look at it.

[Via Tasting the Pith]

Constructive Criticism: Lucky Lab.
[Via Beervana]
When Your Legacy Brand Tanks.
[Via Beervana Buzz]
A bit of disclosure, perhaps awkward. I spent an afternoon drinking with Jeff Alworth, and later Sally, and we briefly discussed his idea to write about problematic beer. It’s intriguing, but I have no idea how it will play out. It sparked this thread at Twitter, which in a way serves as an invitation for others to follow. I think it ties nicely to Pete Dunlop’s post a couple of days later, which a) reminds us Portland always seems to be telling us something about our beer future and b) that Lucky Lab is selling less beer. The context that Jeff provides is really useful when considering Dunlop’s stab at a 30,000-foot view.

The reality is, the ground has shifted. There was a time when a brewery or brewpub could get by with decent beer. They didn’t have to put much effort into chasing eclectic beer styles or enhanced quality because there wasn’t much competition and beer palates weren’t very sophisticated. Simpler times. Those days are gone. Modern beer consumers demand more.

Small Transylvania Brewer Stood Up to a Beer Giant, and Survived.
The story delivers just what the headline promises, so let’s move on to this interesting thought.

People realized that Grandma’s jam isn’t so bad after all,’ said Mr. Lenard, sitting in his executive office by wide windows that overlook the state-of-the-art brewery he created out of the former distillery’s crumbling concrete. ‘The local community has realized that local produce is good.’

Sunday on Facebook, Jeff Alworth sang the praises of Bog Iron Brewing and wrote “SO many good breweries in the country.” I agree, and that even though our definition of good may be shifting good is good enough. Curiously, local has become such a big deal that locals may overrate their locals beer. In fact, we all overlook flaws for various reasons. But that’s better than in the past, when products (including beer) that came from afar were considered exotic and automatically better. [Via New York Times]

The End of Baseball As We Know It.
This was the first post during ongoign “Inefficency Week” at The Ringer. The second wasn’t as interesting, so we’ll see about the others do. The premise: “We’re going to take a look at what we lose when we get lost in the chase for efficiency.” It will be 20 years ago in October, standing on what was the former “killing floor” of a sausage factor that had become Left Hand Brewing (this was one of those times when you remember exactly where you were when you heard something) that brewery co-founder Eric Wallace said: “The large brewers are not tooled to do what we do. They’ll have to build less-than-efficient breweries to make beer like we do.” Of course, it hasn’t always worked out that way. Small breweries have grown larger and endeavored to become more efficient. Larger breweries have bought smaller breweries and found ways to make beers born in those smaller breweries in their own much larger plants.

This leads to considerable discussion if and how the beer has changed. No need to go there again. The brewers, and the stories, that interest me personally are the ones that think about/examine what might change before brewers choose to make some part of the process more efficient. Because art (OK, I understand I just lost more than half of your vote right there) should be hard. There is another side to my simplistic view. For reference, this Twitter exchange last February. I asked: How “easy” should scientists make it to brew beer? Caleb Levar replied: I’m more concerned with how easy engineers have made brewing. Steam, glycol, sanitary pumps? TOO EASY! Of course, he is right. But I’m going to keep asking. [Via The Ringer]


It’s Official: Cannabis and Wine are a Poor Pairing.
This could also have been filed under business, because the matter of competition versus collaboration is also relevant to beer. Thus the Brewers Association examining Marijuana and the Beer Industry. [Via Fermentation]


2 Responses to Monday beer links: Context for authentic, Anchor, and what’s lost

  1. JAM August 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    You read 267 blogs every day?

    • Stan Hieronymus August 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

      Many of those are long gone – I should clean up my list – and most post only once in a while. Feedly gives me a list of headlines and I click on very few of them.

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