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Monday beer briefing: Innovation, innovation, and the Endgame?


Gas station beer, Poland
A one-word tweet from Ron Pattinson broke off into multiple paths last week. The first link takes you to Jeff Alworth’s statement that “Lager was an innovation.” Nobody seemed to dispute this. Would you agree? I’m not so sure, but settling the matter isn’t what interests me. Instead, reading The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players another question comes to mind. The nonconformists in the book are set on disrupting the process of player development, and changing process (say, the way a beer is made) may change what results (say, a particular beer). Is that how we got lager? In which case, how did a brewer come to think, “I was taught to do this, but I am going to do that?”

Anyway, a book that gets you thinking if you are a baseball fan. In reviewing it for The Atlantic, Jack Hamilton asks, “Would democratizing baseball greatness actually be good for baseball? Part of what makes baseball’s greatest players so memorable is how much better they are at playing the game than anyone else on the field. In important ways, the sport’s drama relies on inequality.”

1) Englewood Brews is here to prove craft beer is for Black people, too.
“Everyone says craft beer is for everybody, but you walk into these North Side taprooms and how many Black people do you see, frankly? Continuing to concentrate breweries on the North Side is missing out on a growing population that wants to enjoy good beer, too.” Just in case you think this seems abrupt, Sam Cooke wrote “Change is Gonna Come” in 1964.

2) Gulp // Cask ale comes to Brussels.
“Cask ale is also another way for local brewers to explore and innovate, beyond simply brewing new styles.” There’s that word again.

3) Old Man Yells at Cloudy Beers.
In one branch of the abomination thread above, Martyn Cornell writes, “Change for the purposes of innovation and advancement is good. Change for the sake of change is too frequently poor. A trip to Poland last week convinced me that too many brewers are chasing novelty at the expense of a decent drink.” Despite that thought and this headline, during nine days he found “an expansive range of styles, almost all of it of it well-made, some of it absolutely fascinating, rare and thrilling, and some of it pushing the envelope so hard it rips.” We (my family and I) spent 25 hours in Poland a few days before he arrived, simply dashing from Berlin to Poznan and Gordzisk to visit Browar Grodzisk. We discovered a wide range of beers (pictured at the top) from small breweries can been found in gas station along the toll road between Berlin and Poznan.

4) Not quite the Endgame yet for IPA.
5) A Sea of Hoppy Sameness — In Search of New England’s IPA.
In 4) Bryan Roth asks, “So what can be a differentiating factor for New England’s IPAs?” Thoughts from Adrian Tierney-Jones suggest they might be part of a continuum. “After sitting through [The Avengers: Endgame], with a lot of it referencing other movies in the canon, it dawned on me — the IPA style has become the beer world’s version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Then, “To take the analogy further, I would argue that the first film in the franchise, Ironman, was Hollywood’s version of an American IPA and then the following sequels were representations of each different IPA.”

6) Why so many beers have retro-looking cans.
Nostalgia can be good for us. “This approach certainly works on New England locals and fans of classic cinema. Sarah McClutchy, a marketing manager, tells me she attends an annual summer screening party of Jaws at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, Rhode Island, which Narragansett supplies with their retro cans. ‘At the point in the movie when Quint crushes his can, the whole audience applauds and crushes their retro cans too,’ she says. ‘In that sense, the retro can represents this community tradition and a little piece of cinematic history.’

7) Craft Beers Without The Buzz: Brewing New Options For The ‘Sober Curious’
8) Sobriety is having a moment. Here come the influencers.
While we were in Germany, I tasted two excellent non-alcoholic flavorful hop-forward beers that would earn a spot in our fridge were they available in Georgia. Posts on Twitter last week disputed that a few numbers signal a trend, and I don’t know where the influencers fit in. “A recent Atlantic article found that while there are limited statistics to quantify the decrease in millennial drinking, there is a developing cultural shift wherein social lives aren’t as alcohol-centric as they once were. There’s a feeling that this change — coupled with the emergence of trendsetters who see their sobriety as an asset — could hugely change the role booze plays in our social lives. At the same time, there are valid concerns that it glosses over the complicated and nuanced processes of giving up alcohol.”


9) How Hybrid Barrels are Changing Your Wine, Beer and Spirits.
Despite the headline, beer isn’t part of the story. But this is, “Analysis showed that the chemical analysis of the wine was quite different, especially with the hybrid barrels. The extraction kinetics change. We don’t understand entirely what’s going on there, but we did see something very different in that hybrid barrel than what we saw in the [traditional] barrels.” Extraction kinetics are definitely a game changer.

10) It’s Time to Rethink Wine Criticism.
11) On tasting notes.
Compare and contrast.

12) The 2019 MW examination questions.
So who wants to read the Master Cicerone exam questions? A sample.



ReadBeer, every day.
Alan McLeod, most Thursdays.
Good Beer Hunting’s Read Look Drink, most Fridays.
Boak & Bailey, most Saturdays.

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