News, Nuggets & Longreads 03/01/2015

Illustration: breakfast reading.

Ah, the first Saturday of the year – so full of promise, a blank slate upon which— [SPILLS COFFEE OVER DESK] Oh, bollocks. 2015 can get bent. Now here’s some poxy links.

Michael Kiser’s piece on what 2015 might hold at Good Beer Hunt­ing (the slick­est beer site around) is well con­sid­ered and thought-pro­vok­ing. For exam­ple, why is Gose sud­den­ly ‘a thing’’, and why now?

Because inter­net… Ideas for new beers are com­ing from all direc­tions as con­sumers are able to share their niche finds more read­i­ly over Twit­ter, Untap­pd, and forums. Brew­ers uses these tools too, some on a dai­ly basis. The result is a sort of shared un-con­science among beer drinkers and brew­ers as to what the next cool beer might be.

→ Yes­ter­day 95th beer blog­ging ses­sion prompt­ed some inter­est­ing respons­es but this from Mau­reen Ogle, not­ed his­to­ri­an of Amer­i­can beer and oth­er indus­tries, is a cork­er:

The mod­ern beer indus­try in the U.S. pro­motes a par­ty line that runs more-or-less like this: … We’re friends, not com­peti­tors. We love fine beer. We care more about beer than prof­it. We’ll nev­er sell out.… In my opin­ion, based on research that I con­duct­ed for Ambi­tious Brew, we can trace the ori­gins of that par­ty line to a sin­gle per­son: Char­lie Papaz­ian.


→ Anthro­pol­o­gist Krys­tal D’Acosta, writ­ing for Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can, con­sid­ers the his­to­ry of ‘food porn’ and what it means in the age of social media. (Via Boing­Bo­ing.) A lot of what she says also applies to beer, and espe­cial­ly ‘craft beer’:

It’s okay to be a foodophile. It’s okay to indulge in exot­ic ingre­di­ents. It’s okay to show­case your culi­nary attempts. All of these things send the mes­sage that you under­stand what eat­ing well means, just as you under­stand what an indul­gence is when you share that fried Oreo you snagged at a local fair. We share food porn to affirm that under­stand­ing. We are show­ing off.

→ The Wall Street Jour­nal cov­ers the row between Bel­gian brew­ers and contract/gypsy out­fits who mere­ly design beers, leav­ing oth­ers to ‘‘get their hands dirty’. (Via @TheGuestAle.)

→ Saved to Pock­et this week: Mar­tyn ‘Zythophile’ Cor­nell edges every clos­er to the truth about the ori­gins of Fug­gles hops, thanks to the increas­ing avail­abil­i­ty of digi­tised his­toric news­pa­pers and fam­i­ly records.

There are now a hun­dred Microp­ubs in the UK with more on the way. This is a phe­nom­e­non our Brew Bri­tan­nia sup­ple­ment in the sum­mer will need to cov­er.

→ Via @PhippsNBC here’s that alter­na­tive def­i­n­i­tion of IPA we’ve all been look­ing for:

4 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 03/01/2015”

  1. The odd thing for that Papaz­ian thought for me is I see no evi­dence for it. The secur­ing of estab­lished finan­cial inter­ests of long stand­ing US craft brew­ers and, par­tic­u­lar­ly for Papaz­ian, pro­tec­tion of indi­vid­ual sta­tus is worked direct­ly into gov­er­nance struc­ture of the cen­tral­ized Brew­ers Asso­ci­a­tion which then lay­ers itself with blan­kets of the “don’t wor­ry be hap­py” stuff. I am sure the guys row­ing the gal­ley ships were often told by their gov­ern­ing offi­cers sim­i­lar tales between appli­ca­tion of the lash. It’s just Macdonald’s “I’m Lov­ing It!” When writ­ing our his­to­ries, we were struck by how close­ly US craft par­al­leled the rise of the east­ern U.S. Ale mag­nates in the mid 1800s as well as the advent of aggre­ga­tion from the 1890s to pro­hi­bi­tion. Wealth requires this sort of con­trol if suc­ces­sion by the next gen­er­a­tion is to be avoid­ed.

    1. There’s some­thing in it, I think: brew­eries which have built their suc­cess and rep­u­ta­tions on being ‘good eggs’ suf­fer back­lash *hard* if they do any­thing too overt­ly ruth­less or self-serv­ing, and gain cachet from being seen to help and sup­port their peers by, e.g., sup­ply­ing hops dur­ing short­ages.

      Val­ues *are* brand in many artisanal/indie ven­tures.

      Cer­tain­ly an inter­est­ing obser­va­tion, at any rate, that Papaz­ian gave birth to the rhetoric, even if it some­times rings hol­low.

  2. I wasn’t real­ly describ­ing the indie / Artie brew­eries but the large busi­ness­es which both man­age the dis­course and pro­duce the bulk of “craft” beer in the US. But it’s that skill and focus they have achieved in main­tains (i) the appear­ance of not only “val­ue” despite things like Rogue’s track record with employ­ees and (ii) the facade of small scale that is the sector’s mas­ter­piece. Oth­er sub­mis­sions to The Ses­sion men­tion a gap when it comes to inde­pen­dent eco­nom­ic analy­sis of the indus­try. I sus­pect were that to devel­op you would see sig­nif­i­cant push­back from big craft. You know, if the large indus­tri­al brew­ers were to actu­al­ly focus their resources on the craft sec­tor an open dis­cus­sion of the nature of the brew­ing busi­ness might actu­al­ly be one of their most com­pelling argu­ments: “same beer, twice the price… so who is pock­et­ing the mon­ey?”

  3. Cou­ple of thoughts on the GBH thing (since they don’t do com­ments)…
    i) On the “local vs native” thing, the exam­ples of tru­ly “native” phe­nom­e­na seem pret­ty uncon­vinc­ing. I mean, wild yeast and bar­rel age­ing are inter­est­ing for sure, but it’s hard to think of any­thing com­pa­ra­ble for West Coast IPA (even though that’s an exam­ple that he uses) or Black Coun­try milds or York­shire bit­ters. A much stronger argu­ment for “nativism” is that the peo­ple who pro­duce some­thing best will often be the peo­ple who’ve been immersed in it (not lit­er­al­ly) for some time rather than the ones who have been inter­est­ed in it for a few years. I’m not sure why he doesn’t men­tion this here, par­tic­u­lar­ly since he basi­cal­ly makes the same point in the con­text of
    ii) Euro­pean IPAs. Sure­ly the rea­son that Euro­peans are inter­est­ed in pro­duc­ing west-coast style IPAs is pre­cise­ly, as he puts it, that “any IPAs these guys have at home are like­ly months old and half-baked.” This is an exam­ple of a sort of beer-tourist cul­tur­al colo­nial­ism that gets my goat quite sig­nif­i­cant­ly – the idea that while I like to have a choice of the widest pos­si­ble range of world beer styles – import­ed if they trav­el well, local­ly recre­at­ed if they don’t – every­one else should basi­cal­ly shut them­selves off from all of that stuff in order to pro­duce some­thing inter­est­ing­ly local for me to try when I want to.

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