Monday beer links, musing 01.06.14

- “I Had Just Three Things To Do.” Alan McLeod’s contribution to The Session #83. Because he’s being hounded by spammers, comments are unfortunately closed. So I’ll ask the question that pops to my mind here: If beer writing becomes less about community and more about individuality could that have an impact on the communal aspect of beer?

- Beers: Baltic and imperial porters, strong enough for cold winter nights. A story in which flavorful beer and humans interact.

- Beer Business Daily Predictions for 2014. Since it seems there’s no escaping discussions that are really about business — will “craft” sales continue to increase? how many openings? how many closings? rising or falling prices? — might as well read what Harry Schuhmacher has to report, because these are things he probably knows more about than anybody. BTW, he’s not the only one asking of legalizing weed will affect beer sales in Colorado.

Schuhmacher’s column in the current (dated January) All About Beer magazine is also an excellent read. Headlined “The Light of My Life is Dimming” it begins:

Everybody I know these days hates light beer, except those who don’t. It’s not just that they don’t prefer light beer or that they like more flavorful beers: They actually actively and morally despise light beer. It’s as if light beer was once a significant other who wronged them somehow — cheated with an import, say — and forgiveness is out of the question.

And of the cheating tarts out there, none is more despised these days, it seems, than poor old Miller Lite. You can forgive Bud Light, who was just a friend with benefits… You can forgive Coors Light because that was just a youthful dalliance… Corona Light was just a hookup on the beach, and Amstel Light was an uptown girl you couldn’t afford anyway. Natty Light and Keystone Light? Well those were just one-night stands and you consider yourself lucky for not getting the clap.

But Miller Lite? That’s the one you thought you’d marry for life.

The column itself is worth the price of the magazine (although as a bonus you get my story about “The Class of ’88″).

- Another prediction: Wine will continue to lose market share; craft beer is on the rise. Yep, linking to wine writer Jamie Goode for the third time in four weeks. And not just because he writes, “You can now get some great flavour experiences from beer for relatively little money. The same isn’t true of wine, and those who make mid-priced boring wine are the ones who will suffer loss of market share.” The whole list of wine predictions is worth reading, but remember he’s in the UK. The US “craft beer” market is arguably more mature, so we might wonder if the “commoditization of wine” he writes about could spill over into beer.

- German brewers push into the craft beer market with new hops. Pardon the hubris, but I told you so.

- You Are Not A Brewer, You Are A Panhandler With A Kickstarter Account. I aim to post five links a week here, bookmarking contenders during the previous week or saving them to Pocket. This popped on my radar Thursday and by Friday it had, as we used to say back in the day, “gone viral.” I expect you may have already seen it, but in case it got overlooked in the holiday bustle . . . a “bonus” sixth link.

13 Responses to Monday beer links, musing 01.06.14

  1. Alan January 6, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    Hmmm… what other sorts of expression are dependent on the communal rather than the individual? And why is beer writing now not primarily an individual expression?

    • Stan Hieronymus January 6, 2014 at 7:38 am #

      I’m afraid my use of the word “communal” may have muddled things. I was thinking in terms of 5 people sitting in a pub/tavern with beers in front of them talking about things other than beer. It looks almost like 5 people sitting in a cafe with coffees in front of them, but with beer is is a little different.

      This is not the beer-hyping community. 1/2

      • Stan Hieronymus January 6, 2014 at 7:54 am #

        If writing is now primarily an individual expression then beer writing would be as well. However, there is a form of writing (I don’t know how to quantify “writing” when you start adding up online and print, blogs and discussion boards, etc., so can’t say it is x percent) that isn’t.

        For instance, how about the story in DRAFT magazine about a guitar shop employee in Portland, Oregon, ending up brewing in Norway?

        Granted, writing such a story involved making individual decisions about what to include, But that’s different than ending up with a story that’s “pretty much all about you.”

        And, rather than adding a 3/3 . . . writing can be more narrative without being more subjective. 2/2

  2. Alan January 6, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    I like “convivial” for that idea rather than communal.

    [Let me think of the other ideas for a bit...]

    • Gary Gillman January 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      You can’t get away from the communal in beer, for a number of reasons. First, people (usually) drink together. So you talk about the beer, or other things, because you share that. Also, one’s feelings are heightened under drink, which tends to emphasise communal feelings and therefore precludes or minimises agressive actions and emotions. Hence camaraderie, different in kind from those who have an interest in artisan bread, say. Writers on beer can’t really do their work in isolation and few do, I believe. Brewers are part of this special circle of feeling but have a special place as the purveyors. Wine is similar, its devotees and producers work in a similar way. However, the dangers of alcohol are real. Hearty har har should not be an excuse not to talk about what Pete did, say. Other writers have in the past, Jackson did certainly but more at the end of his career.

      Gary

  3. Gary Gillman January 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Sorry Stan but I don’t know if I expressed my view clearly (as to the nub of it). Because drink can and too often does unleash violence of feeling and emotion, devotees, especially in circles devoted to an appreciation of beer as a gastronomic item, take especial care not to offend and to boost communal feelings, including viz the all important brewer, producer of elixir.

    Gary

    • Stan Hieronymus January 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Good point, Gary, and thanks for the elaboration.

  4. Alan January 8, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Communal and community fail for a few reasons. The group is transitory and untied when sober. It comes to little else and too often generates unhappiness in the exterior real world. Researching the beer histories, the illusion of the community that forms around 1800s tavern life is evident when one sees the hardship past alcoholism brought home or, perhaps say later in the mid-1900s, how it was the third place only in the sense that the home and work in a tenement town were so grim. Conviviality speaks to what is actually positive there when it is there without the burden of the assumption that it always or even often is.

    • Stan Hieronymus January 9, 2014 at 4:57 am #

      I’m fine with the word convivial, but I also think that members of a community can gather regularly at a pub/tavern without being alcoholics.

      • Alan January 9, 2014 at 11:19 am #

        ? I am sure you appreciate that the bar scene past and present is not a dream land of back slapping Disneyesque sing songs around the old piano as everyone sips half pints of 3% mild or bitter. Convivial indicates the best sort of experience. Communal captures plenty that I want no part of.

  5. Nate O. January 9, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Speaking of German brewing, are you going to Braukunst Live this year?

    • Stan Hieronymus January 9, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      Nate – Nope. Too many other trips (and plan to be in Germany later in year). How about you?

      • Nate O. January 11, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

        Probably! As luck has it, I’ll be in Munich visiting a friend the same time as the festival. I’m moving to Aachen in March, so if you’re in the area feel free to drop a line.