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The purpose of drinking?

Cask beer, London


Crowd Control: A History of Bar Etiquette Because, can you resist a story with a quote this honest? “The purpose of drinking is to get as drunk as you can without ruining it for other people.”
[Via Punch]

How your local IPA is quietly becoming a leading economic driver in Oregon. A closer look at how the Oregon brewing industry produces $2.83 billion in total economic impact. I like this bit about Block 15 in Corvallis: “Tart cherries come from The Cherry Country near Salem, raspberries from Denison Farms in Corvallis, peaches from Olson Family Farms in Salem, strawberries from Stahlbush Island Farms in Covallis and grapes from Left Coast Cellars in Rickreall.” Ingredients from places familiar to people who live and drink in Corvallis.
[Via 1859]

Beer judging considered harmful. SPOILER ALERT. “So the lesson is: just because you can recognize the chemical and know that it’s sometimes a problem, don’t automatically assume something must be wrong with the beer. Something may be wrong. Or the butterscotch flavour from the diacetyl might actually make it better.”
Via Larsblog

Beer, beer, everywhere … Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “An American walks into a British pub and
[Via Boak & Bailey’s Beer Blog

The 40pc leap in capacity at the Doom Bar brewery and the 2014/5 Cask Report. Up front there is the fact that Doom Bar had become a brand one tenth the size of Carling lager. and Martyn Cornell writes: “That might not sound much, but blimey, there’s not been a cask ale brand with that kind of clout in the market for decades.” Beyond that, a summary of the latest Cask Report (kind of a state of the union for real ale in England).
[Via Zythophile]

Concrete Beach Brewery Will Teach You To Love Craft Beer. This is a story about Concrete Beach Brewing in Miami, funded by Alchemy & Science, the collaboration between Alan Newman (ex-Magic Hat) and Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company. You’ll likely take away something different from this article than I did. When I got to the part where the manager of the “Social Hall” said “My first beer ever was a Michelob Ultra” my mind shut down. Wasn’t Michelob Ultra invented like three years ago? (Correct answer is 2002.)
[Via Miami Eater]

John Hickenlooper, Party of One. I’m not sure who you think the best known person brewer-type in American beer is, but Hickenlooper’s place in the post-MaytageMcAuliffe American brewing world is pretty well established and as governor of Colorado he might be a recognizable at Jim Koch. This profile of a guy who keeps his promises points out, “He even fits the zeitgeist—the microbrewery owner who throws an annual tech and business summit to foster Colorado’s start-up scene, the fellow you might have seen strumming a banjo on stage with Old Crow Medicine Show.”
[Via The Atlantic]


Local books about local beers

In case you missed the press release, 75 percent of Americans now live within 10 miles of a brewery. (There are 15 within 10 miles of our house — and, of course, more that will open soon).

The country has gone from about 100 to 3,000-plus breweries in little more than a generation. And, it appears, books must follow. More specifically, more local beers seem to lead to more books about local or regional beers.

Of course many of these are “guide” books. Although there were a few before “Pennsylvania Breweries” with that one Lew Bryson laid out a template that Stackpole Books continues to use today (such as with “Colorado Breweries”). Globe Pequot Press since began its own series (see “Beer Lover’s the Carolinas: Best Breweries, Brewpubs & Beer Bars”), and there are plenty of interesting “one-offs” from regional publishers (for instance, “Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland” and “A Perfect Pint’s Beer Guide to the Heartland”).

But what I find interesting is what you find when you begin playing “six degrees of separation” at Amazon. Start with “Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day” and see what comes up under “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.” It could be back to a guide-like book such as “The Great Northeast Brewery Tour: Tap into the Best Craft Breweries in New England and the Mid-Atlantic” or into the
History Press family of books, which are whole new territory. These include books such as “Upper Hudson Valley Beer” that have covers that look the same but stories inside that are quite different.

What I like about these books is that limiting the scope does not limit the thinking. “Crafty Bastards” unfolds in basically chronological order, but the chapters are labeled Water, Malt & Hops, Barrels, Ice & Steam and so on. This makes for a easy to absorb narrative. Although this is a book that a beer drinker in Missoula, Montana, might enjoy and one that a total beer geek in Massachusetts will learn from it seems like one best suited for a casual beer fan in New England. That is as it should be. A local book about local beer to be read in your local.


This is something of an aside. Despite the title the book does not, thankfully, dive into “craft versus crafty.” However author Lauren Clark does go into detail about the various controversies swirling around Boston Beer Co. and Samuel Adams in the mid-1990s — among them that some New England brewers did not care for seeing a beer labeled “Boston” when it was brewed under contract outside of New England. She writes:

“Another reason craft brewers learned to stop worrying and love Sam was that ‘made in Pennsylvania’ vs. ‘made in New England’ was a non-issue for the vast majority of craft beer drinkers, who cared more about whether the liquid in the bottle tasted good and was priced fairly. (Andy) Pherson of Long Trail recalls, ‘We were all beating the drums against Samuel Adams, because the beer wasn’t made in Boston. Then we all stopped, because we found that consumers didn’t really care.'”

A fair enough reminder that not everybody values local the way I do.


Does Q trump L? And other C beer questions

Local beer drinkers

In alphabetical order.

The C word would be craft.

The L word would be local.

The Q word would be quality.

Can the three co-exist? Certainly. Must they? This is the part where my head starts to hurt.

Exhibit A: “Will a bunch of terrible craft beer ruin the booming craft beer industry?” It would have been a little easier to follow if the writer had made a clearer distinction between quality and quality control, but hang in there.

Exhibit B: “The future of the craft beer industry and its ability to provide quality and variety could hinge on this.” In which guest columnist Greg Engert writes, “New influences are afoot, and perhaps none is more pervasive or more limiting than the drink-local movement.” (My emphasis.)

Engert adds this:

Now, the desire to drink local brews has reached a fever pitch, often blinding publicans and craft beer drinkers alike from what should ultimately guide our choices: Is the beer of the highest quality? Is it bereft of off-flavors? Is it delicious? In short, is it superlative and memorable?

Wait, so now quality isn’t enough? It must be of the highest quality? And aren’t there times when a beer that does not demand to be memorable, and duly entered in Untappd, better aids and abets memorable conversations or experiences?

I appreciate the importance of quality (and quality control). In the All About Beer’s “People Issue” on newsstands right now my contributions are profiles of Gary Spedding (Brewing and Distilling Analytic Services) and Alastair Pringle (who consults with food companies and breweries on all things quality). Conversations with those guys are a reminder you need to know what you are doing, but Q and QC are perfectly doable.

Which brings me to the part I really care about. Local beer makes life better. It made our 14-month road trip in 2008 and 2009 better, when it was local and we weren’t. Roger Baylor argues the matter more eloquently than I do, so I suggest reading, “The PC: Anti-local craft beer unconsciousness, revisited.” He makes it clear “buying local is important both in non-beer terms, and in the specific way it impacts the craft beer ethos.”

I was going to quote him further … but you really need to read the whole thing. (I’d call it a “must read” but I don’t want any more shit from @thebeernut.)


Can you explain multivariete beer to me?

Because I was immersed in the insular world that surrounds the Great American Beer Festival I did not participate in The Session #92: “I Made This.” But I thought about the topic several times, like when Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — addressing brewers before awards were handed out Saturday — said that he had begun homebrewing in 1971. The GABF has become crazy big. It will be even bigger next year, as in 90,000 square feet bigger (how many more breweries might be pouring beer hasn’t been determined). It’s easy to get lost in the forest of beers, but in the midst of this madding crowd there were still plenty of people who spoke with pride about what they’d made. That’s why I keep going back. Anyway, if you are looking for beery links, start at Pintwell.

Young Drinkers Have Abandoned Big Beer – Can It Be Saved? A report from the National Beer Wholesalers Association annual convention in New Orleans, which plenty of brewery representatives at the GABF attended just before heading to Denver. I’m skeptical about this “product life cycle theory” (or maybe it is an example of what happens when a brewery starts making products instead of beers). And isn’t it time to quit saying “not your father’s beer”? Mothers drink too.
[Via Advertising Age]

Multivariate Beer. Using beer to understand data. It’s a little complicated, but in the resulting recipes “More hop aroma represents higher employment.”
[Via FlowingData]

German Pilsner. Ron Pattinson digs into the history books to examine how/when “pilsner” came to describe something other than a Bohemian-Austrian beer.
[Via Shut Up About Barclay Perkins]

Beer and environmental policy entwined. A report from a second-year student of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy interning with Sun King Brewing in Indianapolis.
[Via Poughkeepsie Journal]

Want to Find Out Where Your Fruit Was Grown? Good Luck. It isn’t news that “Big Ag” considers the path from field to supermarket a trade secret. You better believe that the largest breweries in the world know all the origins of their raw ingredients. That’s been less true of smaller breweries. But little things can be important – like how many times and with what insecticides a particular hop field was sprayed.
[Via Mother Jones]

North American Guild of Beer Writers online magazine winners.

The NAGBW writing contest winners were announced at a small gathering Friday in Denver. A complete list should be posted soon at the guild website. Meanwhile, here are links to the online magazine winning stories because — I guess this should be obvious — they are online.

1. The Death of Hunahpu’s Day, by Gerard Walen (All About Beer Magazine)
2. Headbangers Brew: A History of Heavy Metal and Craft Beer Collaborations, by Austin L. Ray (First We Feast)
3. A Brief History of Sour Beer, by Christian DeBenedetti (New Yorker)


A lot about beer, written in a lot of places


Last week Jeff Alworth, Boak & Bailey and Alan McLeod posted thoughts on beer writing, interesting on their own and further provoking interesting comments. Then McLeod followed that up with a must read. (Really, go read it.)

Most of the time, the links I post here are to stuff I read during the week and think you might have overlooked. This week, I tweaked that a bit and focused just on publications that are not beer-specific. That’s because these days I can walk into gas station/convenience store smack dab in the middle of Missouri and choose from dozens of fancy beers. That’s one of the reasons there’s a lot more being written about beer these days in a lot more places and in a lot of different ways.

So Long, Shaker Pint: The Rise and Fall of America’s Awful Beer Glass. This story may or may not contain anything you didn’t already know, and that is the point. This is news to CityLab readers.
[Via CityLab]

Red Brick Brewing Company Turns 21. A long read, north of 4,000 words, and excellent. On the one hand, a 21st anniversary story seems pretty obvious. On the other hand, it is Red Brick, a brewery that long ago was less interesting to write about than a slug of new ones. In fact, its beers weren’t that good. That’s changed. “What many had considered a long-dead, irrelevant brand is experiencing a renaissance amid Georgia’s greater craft beer boom.”
[Via Creative Loafing]

Pliny the Elder: A case study in scarcity marketing. From those guys you listen to on public radio.
[Via Marletplace]

Wine execs concerned about growth of craft” beer, specialty spirits. It is business story written for a newspaper audience (and its online readers, of course). It talks about “millennial exploration.” Shouldn’t publications, and individuals who want to write for those publications, recognize those millennials sometimes want a different sort of writing?
[Via The Press Democrat]

Mexico’s Craft Beer Scene Is Exploding. In this case you have Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of Evil Twin Brewery writing a column, called Nomadic Brews, each month for Munchies, which is part of Vice Media. “Every month, we’ll check in with dispatches from Jeppe’s travels around the world, as he brews in places like Mexico, Taiwan, and Brazil.” Added to remind us all it is a brave new world.
[Via Munchies]


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