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Monday beer links: Cultural wars & Stjørdalsøl


Whose Culture?
When I wrote about Cryo hops recently I began with an observation they might not be as big a deal as my Twitter feed would suggest. I was wrong. They are a big deal. Well, based on my Twitter feed the recent heated discussion about Zoiglhaus Zoigl-Kölsch is an even bigger deal. That’s because I follow too many of the folks expressing opinions, so I saw some of the same tweets maybe a dozen times. You can catch up by reading what Jeff Alworth wrote, and get an idea about the vigor of the discussion by continuing to the comments. Nonetheless, I’ll suggest not as many people care about this as will stand in line for the next release at Tree House Brewing.

I do not, however, think it is trivial. To go first to the bottom line, so you can skip the rest and get to the links, I am basically in agreement with John Duffy’s comment. No matter how much we might admire another culture if we think “the correct perspective for an American to have is an American perspective and that’s all that matters” we’ve taken a wrong turn.

Zoigl brewhouase, Neuhaus, Bavaria, Germany
I quite enjoyed a short conversation with Alan Taylor, a tasting a couple of his beers, two years ago during the Craft Brewers Conference in Portland. There is no questioning the respect that he and Jeff Alworth have for beer heritage and culture. (They sure as heck aren’t McDonald’s.) I am fine with what is basically a conclusion toward the end of Jeff’s post: “We are allowed to both have our own American culture and to have a culture that draws on a shared history without exactly reproducing the culture as it exists elsewhere.” There are still more opportunities to do this with beer — look at 5 Rabbit Cervecería, for instance — because beer is food and this has been happening since the get-go with food. As Donna Gabaccia writes in We Are What We Eat, “The American penchant to experiment with foods, to combine and mix foods of many cultural traditions into blended gumbos or stews, and to create ‘smorgasbords’ is scarcely new but is rather a recurring theme in our history as eaters.”

Zoigl tote, tanker, Neuhaus, Bavaria, GermanyThe Zoigl tradition survives in northern Bavaria is a gift, and that Taylor is drawing attention to it is wonderful. As Jeff puts it, “He wanted to elevate the coolest thing in German beer culture and so chose the Zoigl tradition as his inspiration.” But Zoiglhaus is not a Zoigl brewery. Otherwise there’d be a bunch of brewers from the neighborhood hauling home wort in the process of becoming beer in totes, where it would later be served, glaring faults (at least in some cases) and all. Although the imprecise language bothers me a bit (I spent half my W-2 collecting life as a copy editor) I understand that Zoigl is meant to communicate something to potential customers. So I shrugged when I saw Jeff’s original tweet, and laughed at the thought of what this previously unknown mashup of up beers brewed in Neuhaus and Köln might taste like in one of those places.

But it is easy to see why others viewed it as naked advertising or marketing via cultural appropriation. I did not enjoy the day I was hung in effigy in a small Illinois town because some residents interpreted something I meant as a compliment to the members of their high school basketball team as an insult to the entire town. But I learned that the people within that culture did not care how good my intentions were. It was their town. Still is. [Via Beervana]

(This might be the place for a few disclosures. Jeff Alworth wrote a very nice blurb for my most recent book and I wrote the foreword for his to-be-released-very-soon book. Ron Pattinson will be staying in our guest bedroom during the St. Louis stop on his “Scottish Beer Comes To America” tour. And anonymous [in the comments] and I share many of the same letters in our names and may occasionally be stupid and rude.)

Britain’s oldest working cooper hangs up his tools.
When I visited Rahr Malting in Minnesota 10 days ago I met workers who’d been at the company for more than 40 years (“Sorry, I don’t do tons, just bushels”) and some not quite straight out of school. New blood, old blood seem to be good in almost everything related to brewing. [Via Liverpool Echo, h/T @BoakandBailey]

Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver Has Mutton Coursing Through His Veins.
Lest we doubt Garrett Oliver’s storytelling skills. Long, but once you start it will be hard to put down quit reading. [Via Grub Street]

Stjørdalsøl — the tasting.
Go for the tasting, but stay for the photo of the planks on top of the såinn at Klostergården. “So, there we were, sitting at a table with 14 different beers, all of which were brewed from traditional home-made malts. There were some glass bottles, and a lot of plastic bottles. A couple had proper labels, but most simply had post-it notes taped to the front, with notes like ‘70% traditional malts, 30% pale malt, baking yeast, brewed November 27’. Baking yeast was very common, but some had lager yeast, or commercial ale yeast. Quite a few had some low percentage of commercial malts mixed in. A couple of bottles had just the original soda label with a last name added in scrawly marker pen.” I doubt many may be found on Untappd. [Via larsblog]


These Women Winemakers Are Changing the Way We Drink.
[Via Conde Nast Travelers]
Schlafly’s Emily Parker Owes Her Career to a Simple Question: ‘Why Not?’
[Via Riverfront Times]
8 Women in Craft Beer Who are Making a Mark Right Now.
So two things here. First,, you should have had Emily Parker in your story. Second, “As oenophiles veer away from heavily structured oaky vintages in favor of more delicate, subtle notes (stone fruit, cinnamon, clove, toffee, leather, and chocolate, to name a few), women’s winemaking voices are also growing more resonant and relevant.” So what happens when you plug in beer drinkers for oenophiles?


Definitely better than “Burritos as big as your head.”

4 Responses to Monday beer links: Cultural wars & Stjørdalsøl

  1. The Beer Nut March 13, 2017 at 5:40 am #

    Note to self: if I ever need to troll-up a beer blog’s comments section, I am definitely signing in as “Stan Anonymous”.

    • Stan Hieronymus March 13, 2017 at 5:55 am #

      Probably a good way to get it flagged as spam.

  2. Jeff Alworth March 13, 2017 at 9:10 am #

    I’ll leave the meat of the discussion to other fora, but a few clarifications. The first and most important is that I have no idea what Alan’s position is. My comments should not be construed as his views. I regret not popping the entire discussion out of the context of that specific example, because I think there’s more nuance here to this issue than Europeans are willing to acknowledge. Had I stuck entirely to the example of John’s offense at American-born Americans calling themselves “Irish,”–a fine example for illustrating my point–the conversation might have gone in a different direction. In some cases the specific is not the best analogue to the general.

    I think these conversations are good and healthy and can be had among people who like and respect each other. That’s why I brought it up. Writing about beer has given me the opportunity to be in contact with this group of writers, which allows these conversations to blossom.

    • Stan Hieronymus March 13, 2017 at 9:18 am #

      Well, that is a different conversation.

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