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Accept no substitute: These are not regular Monday beer links

I am flattered that Alan McLeod misses the Monday links and musing sometimes posted here, but I’m not inclined to resume weekly posts until I am certain they will be weekly. That might be December. But a few things I’ve read recently have me asking myself questions, and because here they are on a Monday it makes sense to include a few links.

Do breweries/wineries secretly value paying for writers to visit?
Alice Feiring began an interesting Twitter thread when she wrote, “I am troubled by the barrage social media of colleagues on cushy press trips.” Yep, we’ve seen that discussion within the context of beer writing many times on Twitter. But what struck me was this in the midst of the discussion. Sumita Sarma wrote, “Unless a press trip is paid for may by wineries or PR, you are never taken seriously as a writer.” Huh? Could this be true? Fortunately, in my experience it is not. But maybe I’ve been doing something wrong.

Is the IPA you just rated 4.5 really better than Blind Pig?
So why might ratings on everything from wine to products on Amazon products improve over time? According to Harvard Business Review: “The findings suggest that biased evaluations are the result of a misattribution process: If something feels easier to evaluate, people believe that it must actually be better. In other words, they misattribute their own feelings about evaluation (it feels easier to make an evaluation) onto their assessment of the actual merits (this thing must deserve a higher rating).” Just something to think about when flipping through your personal Untappd ratings or when to comparing them to others.
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The Session #140: Czech hops

Hop picking in BohemiaThe SessionThe topic for The Session #140 is Czech beer, but I’m going to write about Czech hops. The advertisement at the top may not be as old as it looks, but it suggests an unbroken link to the past.

A massive fire in the town of Žatek (Saaz in German) in 1768 destroyed historic documents that might provide more information about early cultivation, which apparently began in the first millennium. Few references to Bohemian hops exist before the fourteenth century, but from the time Charles IV actively promoted the product it flourished. In 1553 the Bohemian town of Plattau became the first outside of Spalt to receive its own hop seal, issued because dishonest merchants packaged inferior hops and sold them as “genuine Saaz.”

The original Saazer variety had, and still has, a red bine. It was called “Saazer Red” or “Asucha Red” to distinguish from the “Green Hop” that also grew in the area. In 1869 brewers paid 50 gulden per zentner for “Asuscha Red,” compared to 28 gulden per zentner for the “Green Hop.” More than a half century later, when hop breeding pioneer Karel Osvald began making clonal selections to improve the agronomic qualities of Saaz, he made it clear the hop would have evolved.

“Current hop cultures are a mix of vegetative posterity of various genetic origins. Issue of varieties is absolutely unclear, and we can talk neither of Czech old-Saaz red-bine hops nor of Semš hops. Semš hops originate from old-Auscha hops, which comes from old-Saaz hops,” he wrote. “Today the cultures of hops are thoroughly mixed, even though there are no great differences between neighboring plants in a hop yard. Hops are plants that can adapt to growing conditions, since the soil and the climate lend them a certain character.”
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Session #140 announced: Pivo

The SessionAlistair Reece has announced the topic for The Session #140 will be Pivo, or Czech beer — they are, after all, the same.

He writes, “In the autumn of 1999 I jumped on a bus at London’s Victoria Bus Station and spent the next 20 or so hours making my way across Europe to the mother of cities. The Czech Republic, most specifically Prague, would be my home for the next ten years, although my original plan had been just one year and then moving on to visit as many former Soviet countries as possible, best laid plans of mice and men, and all that jazz. I still remember my first Czech beer in situ, I’d had a couple of Czech lagers as a college student in Birmingham, a half litre of 10° Budvar in a little pizza place among the paneláky of ?erný Most. Beer was to be part and parcel of life for the duration of my stay in the country I still wistfully think of home. That my dear readers is the theme then for The Session this Friday, Czech beer.”

And he asks for, “a love song to Bohemia and her beers, the land that gave us the original pilsner, and so much more.”

My wish is that @evanrail and @beervana join The Session on Friday.


Pop-up beer links

Monday beer links and musing remain on hiatus, but here are a few “just the links” that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Calamity of Cultural Confusion: Appropriation vs Appreciation.
A Look At Cultural Appropriation Within The Hip-Hop Culture.

In Trump era, breweries and bars wear politics on their sleeves.
The Beer Politic.

Lagunitas brews Newcastle Ale.
Light Beer, Big Opportunity — Lagunitas Enters the Low-Cal Market.

Brewer Lee Hedgmon Learned the Rules in Order to Break Them.
Lee Hedgmon Oral History Interview.

Just the Essentials — How Distilled Oils are Expanding the Impact of Hops.
The Complex Case of Thiols.
Disclaimer: These are my stories. If hops interest you consider signing up for Hop Queries.


While waiting for numbers from @BrewersStats

If you take the time to work through all the comments that followed Andy Crouch’s suggestion (click on the bird) you might not make it back here, but go look anyway.

As happens on Twitter, different threads developed and more questions came up. Bart Watson will be answering some them soon with what has turned into an annual crunching of numbers. I’ll add the link here. Meanwhile, his reports from 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014. Lots of fun stuff, including the fact that he calculates expected medals versus actual medals won based on the difficulty of categories entered.
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