Text: I Am A Craft Brew Fan

Man – things are getting weirder and weirder out there. You know, I really don’t need any videos of people I will likely never meet telling me how great they are and how there is a unified movement of pure positivism that you can’t deny – even, I suppose, that time the beer kinda sucked or, worse, their experiment in your mouth ended up costing you $15 bucks too much. I mean it is fine and fun for them and their friends and at the conventions and all but let’s get a bit serious: is this about beer or fawning?

No, I think there has been a little too much attention placed in the wrong direction lately what with this wave of celebritosis, not to mention with the new found right for some beer people calling other beer people hateful, idiotic and uninformed on the one hand while others are acting like outright sycophantic cheese eating schoolboys on the other. You know what I think? We need to find our center again. We need to understand who is the most important person in each beery universe and that is the person in the mirror. Lew knew when he wrote about describing taste today:

But “Don’t write to impress, write to communicate” is good stuff. I can’t believe that one of his commenters — “Dr. Wort” — actually advises him to use the Lovibond scale to make more accurate descriptions of color. Great, let’s just all do it by the damned numbers. Useful. Beer tasting is subjective. There’s no way to get around that. Period. Never will. That’s why medals are usually awarded by blind judging and consensus, by panels. Best you can do. I don’t present my “reviews” as anything but my opinions. I don’t say you’re right or wrong if you agree or disagree; frankly, I don’t care, in the end. If you find them useful, and I hope you do, that’s great; if you don’t, I can understand that, too. They’re descriptive, not prescriptive. I hope you find the following reviews useful. I’m not going to worry about it, though, and neither should you.

I thought a similar thing when I was thinking about how to describe the fact that I really do not care about the preciousness of the thoughts of others to the detriment of my own ideas. And when I think like this, like you, I think of the Romantic poets as I mentioned over at Maureen Ogle’s place during a good exchange about ideas when I realized I needed to mention Billy’s Wordsworth’s fantastic 1804 poem “Daffodils” aka “I wander’d lonely as a cloud…” which ends:

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

That is it! I said that it’s all the “truth of the couch” – except with web twenny I get the interpretation of the daffodil… or the beer… or the movie… or anything under the sun from a hundred, a thousand folks laying upon the couch in pensive or, more likely, vacant moods. That is in fact so it. My sofa. My mood. My vacancy. So, if you want to go to movies and gush or crap about movies, feel free. If you want to go to fest and gatherings where you can meet brewers and folk that present about beer and think that was money well spent or a total drunken waste, fill your boots. If you want to read a book and think you’ll never be as clever as someone who gets their words set by members of the typesetters union or think it was a really dopey way for the author to spend two years of their life, well, to each their own on that, too.

But if you want any of those things or you just want to think about the beer in your glass and then tell people what you think of it – good or bad – don’t take guff off of anyone because at the end of the day it is only you… and the beer.

One thought on “Text: I Am A Craft Brew Fan”

  1. [Original comments…]

    Andy Crouch – April 24, 2009 9:07 AM

    The celebrity/idol thing is a good point and is on full display here in Boston this week. I’ve heard several attendees and non-industry folk reference the word celebrity in reference to a brewer, panelists have joked about it during seminars, and I even had a couple people call me one yesterday after picking me out of a crowd (which frankly never happens). That’s definitely pushing the boundary of the word into some wholly unintended place. There’s a lot of fawning over brewers and particular beers and I can’t say whether it’s a good or bad thing. These guys and gals generally speaking make very little money for back-breaking work and long days and produce some great products, so a little fawning is a nice added bonus. And most of them handle the notoriety very well.

    Alan – April 24, 2009 9:18 AM

    I don’t know. Why isn’t it good enough to say “we are busting our ass out there because we love the fact that you love our stuff”? That is more about meeting on the level, to get a bit Masonic. That avoids the downside of celebrity – confusion of the value proposition.

    But you know what really irked me? The “I won’t brew with corn” line. Corn? Corn is good enough for Spotted Cow, isn’t it? Ron seems to like Spotted Cow. I’d rather have a well made corn beer than another overpriced failure of rockstar experiment.

    That being said, I wrote it at the end of a 15 hour day in hard black shoes and a necktie.

    dan – April 24, 2009 10:28 AM

    Regarding the Corn in beer line….the next line is something like “What I put in my beer, I choose because it enhances the flavor” which could be said for spotted cow, but likely not BMC. Corn and rice was just what they used to illustrate the big guys try to eliminate flavor while they try to accentuate it.

    though i could be completely off base.

    Alan – April 24, 2009 10:58 AM

    We are likely all fairly off base so go with it, baby.

    Steve – April 24, 2009 11:12 AM

    I liked the video because it gives context to the craft brewing industry. It says this thing is just as much about people as it is about beer. And putting a face on those people helps connect to the audience. Regardless of whether you recognize the face as celebrity, brewer, or anonymous industry person, seeing the face speak the words is what makes the video powerful (oh, and the Sigur Ros soundtrack of course!).

    Tim – April 24, 2009 11:21 AM

    Well as anyone who has read Ambitious Brew knows, corn and rice were initially used to mimic the beer brewed in Budweis using American barley, which was higher in protein than continental barley. The adjuncts at that time (1860s if memory serves) actually cost MORE than malt, but they had to use them to achieve a brilliant beer.

    As for celebrity brewers, I have extreme distaste for the idea and that is about all I have to say about it.

    Alan – April 24, 2009 11:29 AM

    I am looping Stan’s thread in.

    Jonathan – April 24, 2009 11:51 AM

    To echo Steve’s comments, I did think from an industry standpoint it was a great video. It made the point that “we’re all in this together.” I can’ think of many other industries where people who in many respects are competitive with one another can also band together for a greater good.

    And to be fair, Alan, celebrities only achieve that stature once people give them that power. I don’t think they can be blamed for being fawned over. It’s really we, the people, that empower that.

    I would argue that most craft beer drinkers have no idea who these guys are. It’s people like you and me that are so entrenched in this culture that see the most references, but we’re a small % of the total craft beer drinker population, which is still a small subset of the total beer drinker population.

    Alan – April 24, 2009 12:18 PM

    “And to be fair, Alan, celebrities only achieve that stature once people give them that power. I don’t think they can be blamed for being fawned over. It’s really we, the people, that empower that.”

    I suppose that is right and one reason that I am advocating against it. As an add for all good beer it is a good step. As an expression of the marketplace event of craft beer, it smacks a bit too much for me but, as I say, that is me after a long day in a tie.

    Alan – April 24, 2009 2:54 PM

    There is a connection to this as well.

    Sean Wilson – April 27, 2009 2:30 PM

    I posted a few thoughts on the adjunct/corn thing at the Fullsteam website. Relevant part here:

    “One part of the film that I was a bit torn on was the “adjunct” part. You’ll notice one section about not putting rice or corn in beers. While of course you read the script as handed to you, I also mouthed a few tongue-in-cheek words about “not putting rice or corn in our beer…except for that Southern Rice and Corn beer we’re talking about doing someday.” And for that matter, our sweet potato beer is an adjunct, as 25 percent of the fermentables come from the local vegetable and not from imported grain.”

    Shamless link here:

    Regarding ‘celebrity,’ it’s all terribly relative. I didn’t know many of the people in the video…and I was in it. A handful of people wrote me or posted that they were excited to see so-and-so. Celebrity isn’t a result of excellence in self-promotion; it’s generally because a certain group of people want to see or interact with someone they aspire to know, learn from, or emulate. What’s the harm in that?

    Alan – April 27, 2009 9:47 PM

    “Celebrity isn’t a result of excellence in self-promotion; it’s generally because a certain group of people want to see or interact with someone they aspire to know, learn from, or emulate. What’s the harm in that?”

    See, I fundamentally disagree with that. It may well be excellence in self-promotion and can distract people from finding better yet sometimes more modestly priced beers.

    But I am fully with you one the corn and rice thing. There is a great American rice beer out there waiting to happen. Don’t be put off by the barley Nazis.

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