October 29, 2013

Finally. A Beer Definition Worth Fighting For

The time has come for an accurate definition in the beer world--not one defined by the industry or sales, but one that comes from tradition and standards. Of course, I could be talking about the definition of craft beer again but I am not. I am talking about the definition of a society.

I belong to the Arizona Society of Homebrewers (ASH) . Ray Daniels is a Member Emeritus of one the oldest beer societies, the Chicago Beer Society (CBS). Both follow the classic definition of a society in that both are organizations that are formed to support a particular activity or provide education on a particular topic generally working with people from diverse backgrounds. The CBS is, "united by a love for craft beer and the art of brewing" whereas ASH is chartered:
To preserve and promote the time-honored tradition of homebrewing, and to recognize it as a true art form through information, education, and dedicated practice.
In both cases, education, outreach and personal interaction are the mission. Both are steeped in beer culture and history. Any monetary transactions are in support of the mission. There are by-laws and boards of directors, meetings, events, social gatherings. It is face-to-face and on the street level.

I make this distinction because it seems vogue these days for breweries to call their purchasing "clubs" a society. There are barrel societies, reserve societies, bottle societies, cellar societies and preservation societies. (It seems to me the best way for a brewery to preserve a beer is not to sell it. I know, crazy.) These brewery societies or clubs are really just purchasing arrangements. In most cases, you get a set of bottles and/or discounts on future bottles. You might get a shirt. In very few cases, there is (seemingly always one and only one) "event", which I'm sure more purchasing can be done. The final "benefit" is a right of first refusal to join next year. Why is that always the last point? Hmmm. I belong to Costco. It's not the Costco Society because I guess I don't have that first refusal clause.

The singular-long term interaction with these brewery societies seems to be crashing their always failing commerce site. People spent more time on port 80 with these breweries than did at one of our Oktoberfests. I'm in no way diminishing anyone that decided to go through with for beer that you plan on drinking and enjoying. It's not about you as a consumer or a fan. No. It's about the breweries.

Please stop calling your commerce model, a society. It's not. It diminishes those that lead and participate in full fledged societies. If the craft beer industry is going to get bent on pushing a craft beer definition, then lay off my society.

October 22, 2013

A Beer Writer Reads and Writes

It's been quiet on the writing front for me, (which may warrant an eventual longer form post at some point) but I have not stopped reading. A good writer reads to write. Some quick hits.

We've probably all seen the Goblin Valley Utah video where reputed adults and leaders of young men defaced a rock formation. I seized on one line in this reaction piece which generally reflects on a divided America (emphasis mine).
Goblin Valley is in an area of Utah—the Moab/Canyonlands region generally—that sees an extreme version of the typical split between public lands users. On the one hand are dudes like this, frequently found in the Utah desert piloting 4X4s around black-stained slickrock trails, and then there's the crowd more into hiking and quietly being awed. You know, Coors versus Dales. Or whatever.  - Michael Byrne
Is that a thing? Coors vs Dales? Is there some sort of Coors/Dales litmus? The reason I ask is, well, both are NASCAR sponsors. Oskar Blues recently announced that they sponsor Landon Cassill and he piloted his #4 Chevrolet under the Dales Pale Ale colors at the Dollar General 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11th. The #40 Coors Light car is currently driven by T.J. Bell.

I've no car in this race as I'm not a race fan, however, I'm not sure if the Coors vs Dales distinction is a useful data point. It seems that Oskar Blues doesn't think so. I do understand the writer's point on the divide in land use.

No not that beer dating.
Andrew Sullivan reads and then brings us a short observational piece on how there (seemingly) is a dating site for every sub-culture. His cites an Atlantic post which details a number of such websites such as Farmers Only, a dating site for those that bail and roll in the hay.

I looked at some numbers and the google consensus seems to be that there around 2.2 million US farmers. I don't know how many US "beer drinkers" there are, but, it would seem to me that the time might be right for some sort of (dare I utter craft ) beer dating site. If you haven't heard, craft beer definitions and the debates about them are back. Ugh! Leave it to Stan to bring the arguments together. So maybe just a beer dating site with some sort of type of beer dropdown.

Here in Phoenix, The Valley Beer Drinkers Meet-Up Group may serve as a proxy for that function. As with NASCAR, I am (thankfully and blissfully) out of that race as well.

Finally, it is pumpkin beer season. Pumpkins are, as a beer ingredient, an American creation. You need to check out this long form article from the awl on the Pumpkin and its rise from hog feed to iconic American symbol of comfort and nostalgia. It's worth the click for the compelling correlation between twitter, white women and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Is there even pumpkin in that? Answer: No)

Fascinating graphic from How Did Pumpkin Become Beloved? Labor, Nostalgia, Refreshment And White Women: Google Ngrams historical mentions of pumpkin.
A word of warning, readers on Andrew Sullivan's blog were quick to point out that any reference to pumpkins or gourds in general prior to the 17th century are probably poor translations. Pumpkins, potatoes, yams, corn and tomatoes are products of the New World. Seneca and Claudius would not known of their existence. Secondly, over three thousand words and nary a mention of beer!?

Still a great read. Especially if you drink a beer while reading.

October 9, 2013

What in the Arizona Beer World.

I'm about ready to head to the airport, but I got a tip that was too good to pass up, This is an abbreviated version of our standard beer game as the embargoed news comes out at the time of this post.

Do you know what in the Arizona beer world this photo clue refers to?

The concept is simple. We post a picture that is relevant to the Arizona Phoenix area beer scene and you try and identify it. Sometimes there will be a larger story involved, but often there will not. So, for glory and a tip of the glass next time we see you. Please, no social media cheating!

Answer after the jump!