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‘A lot of young people said it was for old people’

Last week, Shine Registry* hosted a “virtual business shower” for Kweza Craft Brewery, which is female led and the first craft brewery in Rwanda. It was a Zoom call, set up for a maximum of 100 participants, and hundreds of others got shut out.

One hundred is not a big number, but this was the first time a Shine shower attracted as large a crowd. It is a reminder of a halo that still hangs around (craft) beer, that there is much interest in the topic of women and beer, and a realization that there’s more to beer than the European tradition that American brewing was built on.

(* Shine Registry hosts profiles of businesses and their founders with wedding registry-style lists of the stuff that they need. Founders ask for support while they are starting their businesses and give their communities an opportunity to show that support in meaningful and substantive ways.)

The presentation has been archived and runs about an hour. Worth your time. The words craft and innovation jump to life when Chiedza Mufunde speaks. She’s so, well, passionate that when she uses the word passion I’m OK with it.

And, given that this is Wednesday, the day I aim to post words related to place I particularly recommend you listen to Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, starting at the 7 minutes mark, then continuing throughout the discussion.
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All in the service of #beerhistory

Fred Eckhardt collection at OHBAA box of Fred Eckhardt’s papers at the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives.

I would not know Tumblr still exists if it weren’t home to the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives blog. It seems that’s just one more way it is a link to the past.

As Tiah Edmunson-Morton wrote in her tweet this past weekend, the #beerhistory field has grown impressively since she started OHBA seven years ago.

I wrote about her and the archives for DRAFT magazine two years into the run. (You can find the story here, but be aware the site is no longer secure.)

Edmunson-Morton has been running ahead of the crowd from the start, already practicing what Paul Eisloeffel of the Nebraska State Historical Society called holistic collecting, “thinking outside of the archives box” and gathering artifacts as well as historical documents. This doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

“Dealing with artifacts has always been a problem for standalone archives,” he said. He’s a proponent of the sort of proactive collecting Edmunson-Morton undertook. “It is important for archivists to be able to look at what’s happening in a culture and start collecting now. I really applaud her.”

In “But What If We’re Wrong” author Chuck Klosterman writes, “It’s impossible to understand the world of today until today has become tomorrow.” It’s also impossible if somebody is not saving the important stuff to begin with.

That’s place with a capital P

Lilly Pad Hopyard BreweryThe hummingbirds were an unexpected bonus.

There was a time, 25 years ago when we were researching our “Beer Travelers Guide,” we would driven many miles out of our way if we heard about a brewery with a campground and a hopyard. (Sometime, when we can sit down together in a beer garden somewhere, I’ll tell you the story about Gillette, Wyoming, in 1995.)

There are too many breweries to keep track of these days, and we’re out of the guide writing business. We were just citizens on the way to a weekend in and around Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in northern Tennessee who learned about Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery because one of the previous guests at the Airbnb where we were staying mentioned it in a review.

It was on the way, and we could grab dinner and beers for later (we were staying about an hour to the north).

Lilly Pad Hopyard Brewery entrance
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Defining farmhouse ale; reconsidering history

Lars Garshol, author of “Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing,” writes about “What counts as a farmhouse ale?”

It’s simple, but . . . “Farmhouse brewing is about the tradition, not the source of the ingredients.” He explains.

He also weighs in on the matter of whether saison was really a farmhouse product. Roel Mulder has suggested otherwise. Cutting a long story short, Garshol concludes saison is a style that belongs in the farmhouse family. But first, he makes two important points.

– “Farmers who grow grain will brew beer as long as it makes economic sense for them, and whether there is industry nearby won’t necessarily affect the economic logic at all.”

– Some facts can neither be proved as undeniable nor disproved.

This is as true of American brewing history as it is of farmers in the Hainaut region of Belgium making beer in spring for the harvest work. The history in the centuries after, or perhaps even before, the time Thomas Hariot describes brewing on Roanoke Island between 1584 and 1586 is incomplete.

Start with the thought there were a lot of farmers growing grain. Accept that there’s more about brewing in the Americas than has already been documented. Go.

Black is Beautiful beer: Where might it lead?

One down, 1,036 (as of Friday morning) to go. I hope they are as good as Arches Brewing version of the Black is Beautiful beer.

I will spare you a photo of my hand holding a can, perhaps pouring the beer into a glass. Instead, take a look at two tableaus posted on Instagram to appreciate the joy the beer has inspired.

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