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Is beer an agent of change? Should it be?

The headline itself — The Cultural Triumph of Craft Beer — evokes my questions, but you really should read Jeff Alworth’s post at Beervana from start to finish. It is not easily summarized, but I’ll go with what he wrote for the front page:

“The sense about craft beer right now, with assaults from a global pandemic and hard seltzer, is often morose. In purely financial terms, beer seems to be sputtering. But as a cultural force, it has never been stronger.”

The headline above gives away the questions the post provoked for me. Is (craft) beer changing our culture? Or is our culture changing (craft) beer? Put another way, is (craft) beer keeping up with a changing culture? And, of course, beer is made by brewers at breweries. So we have another set of questions, including, Are brewers and breweries keeping up with a changing culture?

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In case you can’t read Jeff Alworth’s tweet (above) from Wednesday, this is what it says:

“Trends shift, fashions change. Reading @StanHieronymus’s latest hops newsletter about development of new hops and I began to wonder if fruitiness will continue to dominate preferences. Spice and herbs have a long, august history in hopping. Might they become the next big thing?”

As is often the case, it takes some clicking around (start by hitting the date) to follow all the comments, but there were some people agreeing with Joe Stange (“Selfishly, hedonistically, I hope so”) and some interested in taking the conversation in another direction.

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Is it possible to be ‘a little too New Orleans?’

Dixie Brewing 2016Abandoned Dixie brewery, five months after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans

The New Orleans brewing company formerly known as Dixie announced this week that its new name is Faubourg Brewing.

The name comes from the French term for settled areas outside a city. As New Orleans grew in the 18th century expanding neighborhoods were called faubourgs and many still are, such as Faubourg Marigny and Faubourg St. John.

You’ll recall that in June, Dixie was one of several brands (think Dixie Chicks becoming The Chicks or Uncle Ben’s rice becoming Ben’s original) to retire its old name. The company asked consumers to submit possible new names (5,400 did) and conducted focus groups.

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Second annual Beer Culture Summit: Nov. 11-14

Hop pickers

The second Beer Culture Summit begins Nov. 11 with “Yes…I’ve heard of you: A conversation with Dr. J Jackson-Beckham and Garrett Oliver” and concludes Nov. 14 with “Beatles, Bowie, and beer.”

Between those presentations are 30 Zoom sessions, as different from each other as the opening and closing ones. Of course, the event hosted by Chicago Brewseum is virtual. Three quick examples of what to expect:

– Nate Chapman and David Brunsma, who answered questions here last week, will discuss their book, “Beer and Racism,” and then lead a panel discussion with Alex Kidd, Ale Sharpton, Shyla Shephard and Garrett Oliver.

– Michael Roper of Hopleaf and Hagen Dost from Dovetail Brewery will demonstrate “beer poking.”

– “A motley crew of current and former beer professionals sit in front of their laptops in their respective homes and discuss the virtual beer community informally known as Beer Twitter – the good, the bad, and the borderline absurd.”

One more thing. I’ll be there on a panel talking about hops. Thus the photo at the top.

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