The Beer Drinkers’ Bill Of Rights

A depiction of the first debates on the rights
of beer drinkers, Greece 4th century BC.

I’ve been thinking about this beer stuff for a while now and have decided that it is right and proper that a Beer Drinkers’ Bill of Rights for us all be established. Any bill of rights, after all, is just a statement of fundamental law under which the many and individually weak define their relationship with powerful forces controlling a jurisdiction, whether they be the state or in the trade. That being the case, it is time that we admit that we have a jurisdiction of our own, that we assert the existence of the nation of those who love beer and that we define some elemental principles which the people of that nation hold to be self-evident

To that end I propose as follows:

1. All have the right to beer, the right to own beer and the right to their own beer.
2. Local beer shall be available and shall be excellent.
3. Beer shall not be taxed in undue proportion to other consumables.
4. Beer, including its constituent elements, shall be explained and explicable to the drinkers of beer.
5. Regardless of the source, beer shall be snob-free, plainly advertised and made available with minimal intermediaries, both in terms of consultation and transaction between the brewer and the drinker.
6. Beer shall be offered in a variety of packaging formats which shall include low cost formats.
7. Beer shall be safe and shall be accepted as a wholesome food and shall be recognized as an important and moderate agent in the pursuit of happiness.
8. The diverse rights to and of beer enunciated herein shall be guaranteed subject only to such reasonable limits as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

It may be the cold medications, sure, but I am convinced of the need of this. There may be amendments and additions to this list which can be submitted to via the comments as a form of constitutional assembly. Further, commentary upon each right shall be enunciated though discourse.

Your Mid-Autumn Beer Magazine Update


I have written about beer magazines before but a recent stop at a book store made me realize that there are more magazines out there than ever and that it was maybe time to do some comparing. And, along with that, some consideration of what the deal is as I’ve always wondered who buys these publications. Maybe even though there is way more information about beer on the internet that is more up to date, we all know that you look like a dork taking your lap top when you go for a hair cut.

  • All About Beer: This is the elder statesman of these five magazines, well into its 28th year of publication if the volume numbering is anything to go by. I have the November 2007 issue which sports the natty and welcome new layout and design. It has articles, flashy ads, columns by a number of the usual suspects, reviews by a number of the usual suspects as well as the fantastically useful “Buyers Guide For Beer Lovers” or BGFBL. The BGFBL in each issue takes a large number of known examples of a style, ranks them and give notes for each. A very useful information packed magazine that has taken a good look in the mirror and freshened its look. A small amount of gratuitous cheesecake in the vital 34 word article on America’s sexiest bartender. Audience: the US beer geek over 30 who maybe once was a frat boy.
  • Beer: This issue is the first and will be the last I buy. It really isn’t aimed at the craft beer buyer – though it may be aimed at the young krappht beer fan. This issue has plenty of short articles that include trade PR cuttings from two months ago, a piece on how to tell one macro industrial brew from another and interesting bit about how to get a bartender to give you free beer. Oddly, there is plenty of cheesecake but much of it, even on different articles, seems strangely to be from the same photo shoot. Audience: the US frat boy with aspirations of one day being a beer geek over 30.
  • Beers of the World: this UK beer mag now in its second year contains ads, now old trade PR cuttings, a lot of articles of three to five pages with a UK and European focus. My October 2007 issue has a good regional focus on Wales, notes from a visit to Bamburg, as well as a history of hops in under around 700 words and one by a usual suspect describing all of pale ale that might hit 1200 words…OK, I didn’t count. My only complaint is that articles of this length rarely get too deep or provide information that you have not seem the same author repeat elsewhere. But the review section at the end is the best in all five magazines as it is written by the same one guy issue after issue creating a consistent body of work. Plenty of bright photos and really no skin. Audience: the people who read Stonch’s blog yet who want to also learn more from a source that does not include his pal’s body functions as recurring characters.
  • Beer Advocate: I am happy with my subscription to the Beer Advocate magazine. It is likely the most focused of the group and the least cluttered with ads. This is a mag for the 5% of the beer market into craft beer in the USA. There is no cheesecake – unless a very bald Alstrom head counts…which it might. There are stale trade PR cuttings, which is a bit of a disappointment, but there are good long articles following the given theme of any issue. The reviews are very well done, logical and comparatively lengthy. It sort of has a new cast of usual suspects which is good if you are reading more than one magazine. It tends to present itself as relating to rocking out. Audience: former frat boys in their 20s and 30s who still wear black t-shirts and want to go one a beer tour with Stonch and his pals.
  • Draft: Thank God for a magazine that doesn’t have “beer” in the title. Except it seems to have a sub-title and even a sup-title as the full name is “The Beer Enthusiast’s DRAFT: Life on Tap”. Things are a bit cluttered up there on the cover. This one has been publishing for a year as of the September/October 2007 issue and also has beer page after page of huge ads, articles, some trade PR clippings and a well laid out beer view section. The articles are fairly long for a beer mag – not National Geographic but sometimes you have to turn more than two pages. There is a good focus on beer and food over a number of items as well as an odd cover interview of Randy Quaid in which I learn he likes golf. No cheesecake. Audience: people in their 30s and 40s who can name three Randy Quaid movies, who really don’t think about the frat that much and like to drink craft beer and other stuff.

In the end, I have to make choices. I won’t buy Beer again. All About Beer and Draft may become a once every six months thing. Beers of the World will get my money three to four times a year, mainly due to the UK content, and I will renew my Beer Advocate magazine subscription every year. One big problem I would face committing to more is the necessary high level each takes to ensure the largest potential geographical audience which leads to a certain generality. And, while they all have nice beer porny photos, it would just cost too much to get them all and, after all, blogs are giving it away for free.

So do you buy beer mags? Which and why. Confess.

Beer And Philosophy: The Book Is Out!

bapIt is either out or I have just received my copy but either way it is all quite exciting to have a book in my hand with a chapter written by me. So, of course, I read my chapter first and found myself thinking that I could have written most sentences better and that I hoped I didn’t lose all the legal footnotes…though I suspect the sensible editing was afoot on that one. Then it strikes me – I don’t know – can I do a proper book review when I wrote about one-fifteenth of the thing? I don’t have any percentages deals or anything. But I can be pure of heart with the best of them can’t I? So let’s see.

Price? Reasonable. This is a trade paperback meaning it’s going to cost you a decidedly reasonable $13.57 on an Amazon pre-order. The book covers a lot of ground, partitioned as it is into segments entitled “The Art of Beer”, “The Ethics of Beer”, “The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Beer” and “Beer in the History of Philosophy”. Fascinating stuff. And with chapters by Garrett Oliver and Sam Calagione (not to mention me) as well as a forward by the late Michael Jackson (no mention of me) there is plenty of familiar names for the average beer geek.

But it is when the book goes beyond the expected that it gets really interesting. Except for the crew named above, the rest is written by Phds (pronounced “fudds“, professors and a dean. Egads! I See Eggheads! Yet, they bring the egg down off the head and…and…OK, I can’t finish that analogy but rest assured this is interesting stuff. An example: in the chapter by Rex Welshon, Chair of a Philosophy Department in Colorado, explores Nietzsche’s relationship with the drink opening with the philosopher’s observation that a “single glass of…beer in one day is quite sufficient to turn my life into a vale of misery.” I recall my philosophy professor recounting his wife’s observation that she was not so much disappointed that Nietzsche thought all those things so much as that he wrote them down. Perhaps the same might be said about him having that beer. Another example? Neil Manson, a professor from Mississippi has his bio right next to mine (which falsely claims he can drink more than me and you. Lie – I simply choose not to), has provided a dialogue of the Socratic sort (I think) on “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Beer” which seems to talk about God a lot as three characters drink. Neato. It’s like what you think your dinner parties were like the foggy-headed next morning. And there are about ten more of these sorts of chapters.

So…bottom line…get this book. I earn nothing more from saying so yet you will gain incalculably from the procurement.

A Brewery, A Literary Tour And Another World All In One

Her: I sure hope no one mentions this ever again.
Him: Me, too. How unlike us. Best to bottle it up. Pass me another.

An interesting combination of two of my interests may well come together in Nymburk, some 30 kilometers east of Prague, where a brewery, Postřižinský Pivovar, helps continue its story as a local brewery, how the brewery altered the life of an author – and how the brewery itself became a character in the life of the community through the author:

The brewery, operated by brewing firm Pivovar Nymburk, has strong historical and literary connections with Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, who was raised in the brewery grounds and wrote “Postřižiny” (Cutting It Short) about his childhood encounters with the brewery workers. The book was made into a hugely successful film in 1981 by director Jiří Menzel, who recently adapted another Hrabal work, “Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále” (I Served the King of England). The brewery now uses the literary connection with Hrabal as a marketing tool, and the writer’s amused face stares out from the labels of most of the bottles of Postřižinské Pivo sold in the Czech Republic.

That speaks volumes for me…but sadly more over what is not than anything. We in the English speaking world are so concerned about avoiding making connections about beer and locality and community that we forget that our behavior must seem fairly bizarre to other cultures. Just from my own experience I can think of a bar owning pal who was barred by the local regulator from selling a drink he had come up with that referenced Anne of Green Gables. Recently we’ve seen some US states call out the lawyers and tribunals to keep Santa off beer bottles. Heck, in the chapter of the upcoming book Beer and Philosophy that I penned I noted that the law of New Brunswick barred representations of beer in family situations in advertising. We can’t make fun of fictional characters or even describe what actually is – because to do so we point out there is beer in our lives. Because that would be, I guess, dangerous.

And yet we do all this despite knowing we all have tales of our own how beer characterized the community. I can only speak to my Maritime Canadian youth but we all heard how Moosehead’s Dartmouth brewery had the free tap for those working on the floor and wondered why we didn’t all drop out of undergrad and apply for a job. We knew teetotaling farmers with the case in the barn. We knew the ties between Halifax’s Keith brewery and the VE Day riots when the youth of the town invaded the place and drank the brewery dry, likely some knowing relatives – maybe those above – who had some stories. We even watched ads just a few years ago for Alpine beer and how it was not worth making a career for yourself away from home because you might not be able to get your brew…and probably knew people who likely took the advice.

In many ways, beer frames (or at least colours one corner of) what you are and what you could be expected to be….but you really shouldn’t talk about it. Beer is such an interesting touchstone for our collective denial of what we are. Far better to focus on what we think we should be. Somehow it exemplifies all the danger in life we were warned of – even though we happily live it with anyway. Weird stuff.

The Tribute To Michael On The High Seas With Pete Brown


Plans for the international support the National Toast for Michael Jackson are taking off. Events so far are planned for across the US, London, Glasgow, Oslo and even my backyard. Getting the word out has been greatly encouraging for everyone but sometimes difficult. You all should be aware that Pete Brown, author of Man Walks into a Pub and Three Sheets to the Wind is off on the adventure of a lifetime researching his new book by traveling with a cask of India Pale Ale from its brewery of birth to the great sub-continent itself. But how to contact him? He’s already started out on his voyage. Good thing I earned that Morse Code badge in cub scouts:

Alan: [clickity-click-click…, various shortwave radio noises] Ahoy Pete! […click-clickity…] Are you there, Pete? Over!

Pete: [time passes……click-click…, faintly] Who the hell is that? The captain had to interrupt my coal shoveling! I have a deadline for a freelance piece in Coal Stokers’ Weekly in two hours!!!

Alan: [(silence)…click-click-click…] Jeesh, sorry. Have you heard about the National Toast for Michael Jackson to be held on the 30th? Can you take part? Where will you be? Over!

Pete: […clickity-click-click…] The day of the mass toast, I’ll be a day out of Tenerife on a nineteenth century tall ship with a barrel of IPA bound for India, the old-fashioned way. I wouldn’t have been doing it if it hadn’t been for Michael, and I think he would have approved. I’ll certainly be raising a glass, whatever time zone I’m in.

Alan: […click-click-click…] Fabulous! I’ll let you get back to your boilers. By the way, did you hear about the scandal in dwile flonking? Over!

Pete: […clickity-click…click…, fainter] Sorry…unclear…that did not come acro…message…as if you said dwile flon…dw… flonking!!! I’ll have to upda…article for…Flonking Monthly!!! […transmission lost…]

Wow! It sure is a bracing life of adventure for the freelance author on the high seas. But good for him to join in the tribute as he can. And you should, too. Give to the NPF or your local Parkinson organization and hold an event on September 30th wherever you are.

Another Day, Another Opportunity To Write A Beer Poem

Yes, I do go on…poems, poems, poems. But I really need to have these tickets for free beer at TAP NY 2007 in the hands of those who will use them to drink free beer. Is that so wrong? Listen. I am the one around here who put in four good years of my life to get a BA in English Literature and I better get some action on this contest or I will think of them as lost years. Lost. Which is kind of appropriate as my quick survey of some of the better known pub and beer sorts of poems out there is kind of depressing. Let’s review them, shall we? Because that is what four years of B-grades in English Lit got me, the power to review.

The comment by Captain Hops of Beer Haiku Daily is exactly right. “At The Quinte Hotel,” posted yesterday, is a fantastic poem. Likely the best you will ever read or at least the best I have read so far.¹ Yet there is a melancholy about the respective place of beer and poetry that is at the core of the poem.

Back in the Enlightenment, things were not so cheery as that. In April 1737, Aaron Hill penned “Alone, in an Inn, at Southhampton” which is about as dreary a sentiment as any I have come across. Mind you, 1737 wasn’t any sort of non-stop party generally but really:

Scarce can a passion start, (we change so fast)
E’re new lights strike us, and the old are past.
Schemes following schemes, so long life’s taste explore,
That, e’er we learn to live, we live no more.

Perhaps one less drink for Aaron next time, bartender. A generation later, Thomas Warton wrote “Solitude at an Inn” and at least recognized the opportunity to stay away from the outside world and even the others at the inn as something of a positive:

No poetic being here
Strikes with airy sounds mine ear;
No converse here to fancy cold
With many a fleeting form I hold,
Here all inelegant and rude
Thy presence is, sweet Solitude.

Inelegant and rude! Sounds like a snob out for some slumming to me. Warton’s contemporary, William Shenstone, on the other hand gets his values right in his poem “Written At An Inn“:

Here, waiter! take my sordid ore,
Which lackeys else might hope to win;
It buys what courts have not in store,
It buys me Freedom, at an inn.

Fabulous. While Hill, Warton and Shenstone all provide that personal reflection that foreshadowed romanticism, only the latter was not a total drip and might have actually been someone you might have enjoyed meeting at the pub.

Another generation on and we have “Original Elegy on a Country Alehouse” by Thomas Dermody which loses me somewhat as to who is the subject of any given line, leading me to think I am suppose to mourn the passing of a poetic ale-swigging cat. Flash forward to the late Victorian era and consider he-of-the-ale Thomas Hardy‘s 1898 poem “At an Inn” from Wessex Poems and Other Verses. Please consider it yourself as I have really no idea what is going on except perhaps a Victorian version of “Day Time Friends, Night time Lovers” or some other 1970s new country crap.

Finally – for now – we see that contemporary tavern poetry is well exemplified by “In The Black Rock Tavern” by Judith Slater, published in 2004. Like Purdy’s work, it wells you why the comfort of the pub is important without discussing the point. No tryst gone wrong, no nose turned up at the company. Just a place and a moment where you are taken for you are.

So enter now and enter often. I set the limit at 50 words minimum or three stanzas of thematically connected haiku. More about the contest here. I had said that you should post your poem in the comments before the deadline of 4 pm EDT, Tuesday 10 April 2007 but lets extend that to the 12th. I need time to make sure the prizes are in hand but want as many entries as possible. After all – free craft beer. Not bad.

¹For someone with a B-grade in English Lit from over 20 years ago these two concepts merge.

Knut Pays The Taxman

[This post was written by Knut Albert Solem aka “Knut of Norway”]

The wait is oknutsbeersver. But the picture of the package on my doormat is not quite how it went. No, there was a new slip of paper in my mailbox, telling me there was a package to be picked up at the post office. So, what was the tab?

  • The alcohol tax was about 100 Norwegian kroner.
  • The value added tax (based on an estimated value of 300 Norwegian kroner!) was about 100 kroner.
  • The fee for the postal service to process this ended up at 180 kroner, including tax.

A total cost of 386 Norwegian kroner. 47 Euros or 61 Dollars. Not the most expensive beer known to man, but pretty close, as these beers retail at a few Euro is civilized countries. But, considering all the man hours involved, it was a quite cheap service. And they managed to stall me from abusing these beers for a month. The beers look fine, they have been carefully packaged, and their warehouse is probably quite cool at this time of the year. So, it is time for a big thank you, to Alan, to Jeff from the Cracked Kettle. I don’t know about the Department of Substance Abuse, though.

Knut Goes Nowhere And Hangs Around His Mailbox

[This post was written by Knut Albert Solem aka “Knut of Norway”]

knutOn the outskirts of Europe there lives a peculiar tribe of people. Like most other nations, they feel that they have the solution to every problem on the planet. Other small nations have had to bow to the necessity of adjusting to their surroundings, but Norway had the curse to find oil and gas in the 1970s, giving them the possibility of constructing their own reality.

One of the inhabitants of this country is a contributor to A Good Beer Blog, sending his impressions from his travels across Europe. When the generous editor Alan managed to find some sponsors for his blog, he wanted to share some of the spoils with his contributors. One sponsor is the Cracked Kettle in Amsterdam, and Alan figured that they could probably send a few beers to two of his European contributors. Packages were dispatched in early February, and the one sent to England arrived within days. Here is what happened to mine:

The package to Norway was first returned because the shipping company couldn’t deliver outside the European Union. Fair enough, they found an alternative.

Two weeks later, I get a letter from the Norwegian Postal Service, Posten. They can tell me that they have received a package from abroad, and that they can do the customs clearance for me. For a fee, of course. I sign a form authorizing them to do so, and wait for the package to arrive.

Another two weeks, and they send me a new letter, telling me that I should provide them with a receipt, an invoice or similar documentation for the package. I reply with a short handwritten note that this is a gift, and I do not know the value of the package.

Another two weeks, until yesterday. A new letter, cheerfully telling me that I must fill in a form. This is an application that has to be processed by the Directorate of Health and Social Affairs, which decides if I should be allowed to receive the gift. In the instructions following the form, I am told that the maximum amount of alcohol I can receive in this way is 4 liters. Luckily the package only contains 2 liters. For more information, see the back of the page. The back of the page is blank.

I do not know which criteria the Directorate of Health and Social Affairs use to determine if I should be allowed to receive the package or not. Will they check if I have been prosecuted for bad behaviour in public places? Will they ask the neighbours if I beat my wife? The answer is probably written in invisible ink on the back of the form, or possible posted somewhere in a basement as in the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I faxed over the form today. If the Directorate of Health and Social Affairs decide in my favour, I will then receive a permit to import the beer. This permit will then be mailed to Posten, who will then talk to the Customs people.

It would be interesting to find out how many hours of work it will take for various government employees to process this package containing two litres of beer. And I have a strange feeling that there might be more efficient ways of combating drunkenness and alcohol abuse. But what do I know?

Pete Brown: The Interview

pbboI like my non-job here at A Good Beer Blog. One thing I get to do – other than never have a second beer of the same type – is meet interesting people involved with beer over the internet. Consider this exchange about beer and language between me and beer book author Pete Brown:

Pete: Hi Alan, What’s a dink?
Alan: Hmm. A dink? A dink is a minor league jerk. A child’s word for penis. Actually it has a beer angle as in the Nova Scotia of my youth a six-pack was called “a dink pack” now that I think if it. A dink is a bore who is also a newbie.

Wow. Gripping linguistic drama. More to the point was the more thoughful exchange Pete provided to questions put to him by both me and guest writer Knut of Norway. Pete (no relation to the lead singer of the illustrated Pete Brown and his Battered Ornaments) has recently published a great book on his global beer travels called Three Sheets to the Wind and Knut and I thought it would be great if we could have a few questions answered in a three-way North Atlantic quiz as part of our review of his new work. You will recall I reviewed his last beer book Man Walks Into A Pub back in July 2003. In that book Pete considered some of the trends and brewing history of Britain. In this year’s book, he takes a stab at getting a hold of the global beer culture. I will review the book separately in a few days but for now, here is the interview.


Alan: You speak quite strongly about CAMRA. We do not have an equivalent in Canada though there are outposts. In “Three Sheets to the Wind” you visit Portland Oregon and experienced an expression of the North American real ale culture and appeared to love it. How would you compare the two?

Pete: I was so surprised by the US approach to craft beer – they’re really passionate about it, and the key thing is they want you to be passionate about it as well. The thing I always say about Portland is that if I was talking to a brewer about his beers and how much I liked them, he’d tell me six other beers from “competitive” brewers that I should also try. When I go to CAMRA events, I always get the sense that if you don’t already know what you like, there’s very little effort made to draw you in and help you. This is starting to change now, but there’s still an attitude about “I know more than you.” In North America, it’s more like, “I want you to know as much as me.”

Knut: Do you think CAMRA still could be used as a platform to fight for good beer, or have they painted themselves too much into a corner? Could an alternative be to start anew, based on a support for new and coming micro breweries instead of focusing on the techicalities of brewing?

Pete: Of the two alternatives, the one I’d like to see is that CAMRA reform themselves. They’ve got a terrible image problem, but they have so much stock in terms of public awareness, I still think they’re very powerful. As I’ve hung around the beer scene longer I’ve got to know more people. There are a great many executives within CAMRA who have exactly the right ideas, who know they need to reform in order to move forward – and they’re really nice people. But policy is dictated by committee and volunteers, and a lot of these guys are just professional activists – it’s not enough to be for something, you also have to be against something. I believe a lot of these guys couldn’t give a shit about getting more people into great-tasting beer; they simply enjoy the process of arguing about technicalities and being pissed off for a living. I’d like to believe the more sensible factions will eventually win the day, and we’re seeing some signs of CAMRA taking steps into the twenty first century, but there’s still a long way to go. The biggest problem is that CAMRA hardliners interpret any criticism of CAMRA as a criticism of cask ale, which is not only wrong, it’s breathtakingly arrogant, and kind of stops any really useful constructive debate from emerging.

Knut: After travelling the world, where do you see the best potential for beer tourism? I know Ireland has managed to do this based on one beer (!), and you have the mass hordes descending on Munich. But how about bicycling holidays in Bamberg and Denmark, micro breweries offering bed, breakfast and rare cask ales etc?

Pete: I’d love to see that in loads of countries. What I’m discovering now is that you can stick a pin in a map, and there’ll be interesting, often new, breweries not very far away. But I think in terms of holidays, you’d start with Belgium. I’ve been back a few times now since I went there for Three Sheets, and you can go from village to village, each with its own brewery, trying amazing beers, and it’s beautiful country – at least when the sun is shining!

Knut: Carlsberg is responding to the challenge of craft beers by a) trying to control the Danish import market and b) by setting up a micro of their own, putting a lot of prestige in it and linking it up with their brewery tours. Is this the way to go for the other big European brewers?

Pete: I think so. Big corporations in any market tend to play to the lowest common denominator with consumer tastes. You forget that to get a job as a brewer in a really big brewery, you have to be at the top of your game – the people who brew Budweiser are some of the best brewers in the world! What Carlsberg have done is give their brewers a bit of creative freedom and – surprise surprise – people can’t get enough of it. In the US, Anheuser Busch are responding to the growth of craft beers by launching some of their own, and much as I hate to say it, some of them are very good – they would be. The only thing that worries me is when big corporations react by simply trying to strangle interesting small breweries, denying them distribution and so on. This is very idealistic of me, but I wish brewers would simply let their beer do the talking – produce the best beer you can and try to sell more than your smaller competitors without resorting to dirty, underhand tactics.

Alan: I have been trying to figure out how you would approach Canadian beer culture. For me, so much about beer is centered on the kitchen party, the garage fridge or the cottage/camp as opposed to the pub or bar. In his book “Travels with Barley”, Ken Wells notes that bar bought beer in the US has gone from 75% of all sales to 25% over the last 20 years. This is a startling figure. Do you see this as a global trend? Do you also see that these sorts of home-based drinking is something that you ought to include if you extend you study to a “Son of Three Sheets to the Wind”?

Pete: That would be a great idea! An excuse to go and do the whole trip again. What we see now across the world is a consistent set of trends in markets that are “mature”, where beer has been around for ages, and a different pattern in new and emerging markets, such as Asia and Russia. In mature markets there’s a general thing about “staying in is the new going out” – we spend a greater portion of our money on interior design, big screen TVs, Playstations, cookbooks and so on – we invite friends over more than arranging to meet up with them. I think the pub or bar will always be the gold standard – you’re getting a whole experience, not just a beer. But we will all increasingly be doing more of our drinking at home.

Alan: Your references to cultures with respect for or even celebration of the three-beer buzz is really interesting to me. How, though, can an industry promote the idea that what I might call “getting a jag on” rather than “getting loaded” is the point of beer and one that we should all embrace? Doesn’t english-speaking puritanism somewhat snooker that opportunity leaving beer prone to being effectively represented as something you take to enter a fantasty land of TV advertised sports, pals and bikini-clad teens?

Pete: The reason people drink beer is to help social interaction – and you’re not allowed to say this, or even hint at it, in any promotion or advertising for beer – it’s one category where you are not allowed to tell the truth about the main product benefit. But I’ve done quite a bit of work in the UK on this subject. Many brewers now are pushing these “please drink responsibly” messages, which is fine, but a lot of people are drinking precisely because they want a break from behaving responsibly all the time. We need people to show that moderate drinking can actually be fun, rather than simply telling people not to drink as much. There’s a new campaign in the UK by Amstel that does a half-decent job of this. It ties the beer back to the laid-back attitude of the Dutch, and has lines like “drinking is just something we do between talking”, and “why rush your beer? The bar is open all night.” I think there’s a lot more that could be done along these lines. I’d like to see campaigns focusing on sentiments like “surely the best nights out are the ones you can remember.”

Again with the “Wow!” It is amazing no one is pouring big advertising money down upon my head with quality stuff like this. We remain open to offers.A big thanks to Pete for both his book and his time as well as to Knut who is one of the guys who make this beer writing stuff fun. As I said, a proper review of Three Sheets to the Wind will be up in a few days.

“A Glass Of Handmade”

There are a few moments I can point to in my memory that represent elemental changes that helped frame my interest in beer. The first time I was allowed to dip a finger in a Labatt Blue; the Olands Ex I had at my pal’s house in high school; the visit I made to the Pitfield Beer Shop in 1986 from which I returned to Nova Scotia with beer making tools including two polypin cubes as well as Dave Line‘s Big Book of Brewing; and finding an article in an issue of The Atlantic in 1987 that gave me some hope that there was going to be a bigger world of beer out there, even with the first bottles of long-gone Hans Haus beers arriving in the liquor stores or our regular attendance at the first Granite Brewery at the old Ginger’s Tavern in Halifax (oddly excluded from the brewery’s own sense of history which starts in 1991 but referenced in this home brewers digest from 29 November 1989).

That article was “A Glass of Handmade” by William Least Heat Moon and I have finally located a copy on the internet which I have filed in the archives. It starts out with the following introduction:

The industrial brewers continue to prosper; but now they are facing a new challenge from local brewers across the country who are dedicated to turning out brews that have only one thing in common with industrial beer – wetness.

What I love about the article now is its place in time including some quirks – Redhook is considered a huge break-through, common terms need explaining as in “boutique, or micro-, brewery” and now famous names are played out like the obscure tiny operations they then were. It is a gem of an article with a great last line I have used for almost twenty years now. Here it is. Please add your reviews in the comments when you have had a good read through.