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Taking the soul of beer to the streets

Yesterday morning Glenn Payne, a man who wears several beer coats, sent a quick question from his UK home to many beer types. He asked, “Who’s the soul, who’s the cutting edge of beer; who’s taking it to the street?”

He explained it will be the topic for his presentation at Mondial de la Bière in Montreal this summer.

Of course I’m interested any time somebody asks about the soul of beer, but I was as struck by the question about who’s taking it to the street. It reminded me of something Manuele Colonna said when we were in Rome. By the time I got around to digging out the notebook with that quote Payne had plenty of answers. Among those was one from Ray Daniels, another guy with many beer coats, and these days known as the Circerne dude. He started:

Everyone in the craft industry takes it to the street by living the life of craft beer. Sure there are stars that the punters all clamor to see. But their popularity isn’t based on a pretty face, a million dollar ad campaign or a name made in some other industry and transplanted to beer. The craft beer industry has been built by authentic entrepreneurs who daily breathe life and spirit into their companies and their brands. The accumulation of that personal passion in all its diversity makes this industry interesting and engaging. And it makes the beer distinctive.

You can read the rest here.

Sure enough, what Colonna said fits right in and is a reminder the US doesn’t have a monopoly when it comes to beer passion. When Colonna and two partners started Ma Che Siette Venuti a Fa, a bar which serves beer from small breweries from Italy to Denmark, in 2001 nobody in Rome sold craft beer.

Bar owners went with “name” beers pushed by distributors. “They weren’t interested in what the people in the streets wanted,” Colonna said. “Not the normal people.”

Payne’s request does suggest another question: Do cutting edge beers represent the real soul of beer? Not going near that one today.

 

6 Responses to Taking the soul of beer to the streets

  1. ethan.john February 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm #

    The people “taking it to the streets” are the folks that organize local events. Beer has always been a social beverage. The people that are really making an impact on the beer world are the ones that are building communities: organizing beer weeks, organizing local tastings, etc. This includes the folks that brew and the folks that drink and everyone in between. 🙂

  2. Todd February 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    Sounds to me like you’re talking about Jason Yester at Trinity Brewing in Colorado Springs. Go see, go taste,,,,,you’ll at least meet a brewer full of passion,,,,and art ( oh god,,please don’t let Allen get upset over my art references). Unique options to the streets on a 3 barrel system,,,,with massive work,,,passion,,,and resulting beer ART! There I said it boldly!

    And how about Brad Kraus that helps how many folks put out great beer?,,,how many labels,,,how many brewers, how much hope fullfilled from employer to customer? From the US to SA,,,happy brewery owners and customers.

    “To the streets” means us little people notice great beer ART! I’ve luckily met a few folks capable of both. No Super Bowl ads yet though.

    The soul of beer is a moving target,,hopefully,,,for the sake of diversity…….like ART,,alive in the streets.

    Gotta love change!

    Is the “in house brewer” the person you seek or the “itinerant brewer”? Original “journeyman craftsmen” carried little, owned a few tools and massive knowledge, and did much,,,,and their works were often considered great art worthy of real renumeriation. They often were kept on and continued to create great works of ART for the benefactor,,,and the people of the streets.

    Just my vote for 2 wizards making it work,,,,and you might not even know them,,because they work and put it out to the streets,,beer art.

  3. Alan February 27, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    Without being cheeky or argumentative, is there a (singular) soul of cheese? Is butchery an art? Is anyone taking the growing of herbs to the street? They may well be. I am particularly impressed with my own basil and chive olive oil infusions this year and met a Spanish blue cheese last weekend that I will remember for some time.

    But there is something that is a step too far here. We seem to not only be talking about “art” but even “Art, ” not just beer culture but some sort of high culture, a level of ideal perfection. Because beer is lovely we may want it to be sublime and to be something more fundamental, more conveying a unified theory than it does. This takes nothing from the hard work of the artisans but to go further we have to ask ourselves why it is necessary.

  4. Todd February 27, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    If you ever gut and butcher animals,,you’ll learn what is art and what is not. Mobile butchery? Of course! Out here in NM they are called mobile matanza’s and allow the farmer to sell organic meats. You don’t get to run the matanza if you have no skill. Is it art? I don’t know,,,it’s a butcher taking it to the streets and for the people. Herbs to the streets? You’re joking right? The local cheese artisans go to farmers markets,,,which are often in parking lots,,,and to the streets full of people,,,and the cheese made locally is art,,,come taste some! Your infusions of herbs and oils is an art,,,ever had some that was horrible with no nuances or anything? Isn’t your stuff art? Or is you stuff just craft? Folks will know in the streets. Go take your art to the people in the streets at farmers markets and let them judge you,,,,ask them to. Little green pieces of paper often will help one decide if anybody cares about your “art”.

    Beer people miss out on the art and streets of farmers markets,,,,bummer.

  5. Stan Hieronymus February 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Alan, I’m often conflicted with one of the sub-titles I’ve given the blog: “In search of the soul of beer.” Maybe I should stick with, “Beer from a good home.”

    That’s why for my reply to Glenn was simply to provide the quote from Manuele. He, and now many more bars in Rome, clearly are giving people in the streets – at 1 or 2 in the morning the streets outside the tiny bar are packed – a choice.

    He and his partners are going out of their way to find good beer, and also to make sure it is served properly. It’s a skill, but I don’t think anybody would call it art or Art.

  6. Alan February 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    I agree: “beer people miss out on the… streets of farmers markets…”

    Yet, there are plenty of bars on patios and patios are in the streets. Beer is brought to the streets. The trouble with “art” or “Art” is that it is haute and exclusive…which means excluding. Beer is common and shared in common even when it is fine which, as we have learned from our betters’ fall that has left the economy botched, should be fine enough a thing for anyone.

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