A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Amy -

Alan, I read the anonymous comment and Lew's response. The commenter conflated any drinking with excessive drinking but it wasn't a screed. His point was that he felt there was a double standard around smoking and drinking. Lew called him a "New Dry" without much to back it up. In his response Lew claimed that society is anti-alcohol; one piece of evidence for this he said was "sin taxes". However further down in his response he said one benefit of liquor was taxes. I don't think America is deeply anti-alcohol or deeply pro; it is basically ambivalent. The arguments many beer bloggers make against both taxes and alcohol control proponents are very reminiscent of arguments the liquor industry has used since the late nineteenth century. I think everyone can agree that alcohol is a psychoactive and potentially addictive substance that should be used carefully and with moderation. To pretend other wise is disisngenous

LewBryson -

Alan, Amy,

I acknowledged early and at some length in my post that alcohol is potentially dangerous, and that it's psychoactive. To pretend otherwise is not just disingenuous, it's duplicitous. Yet...we drink. Why do we drink? That's the question. Not "Why do we get drunk?" I thought I made that clear; apparently I was not clear enough. To overlook the part of my post that acknowledges the dangers of alcohol, though...is similarly disingenuous.

Alan, the "comment maker" wasn't talking about drinking in a bar, he was talking about lunch at a family-oriented chain restaurant, two very different situations. The man had two beers, and in a Fuddrucker's, it's hardly likely that they were over 5%. Was he drunk before he got there? I don't know, neither do you, and I would submit that a man who's never had a drink in his life is not the best possible judge of drunken behavior.

If someone gets up to go to the bathroom, what is their responsibility over the beer they've left on their table? Don't they have the right to assume that their drink, bought and paid for, would be left alone, just as their food would be? The "aka: loser" here is the kids' parent. I'd have reacted the same way as you to the 11 year old sneaking the beer, Alan: but that wasn't really what I was writing about. That's a whole other post.

Amy, I'm sorry, but I think you're splitting a few hairs here. Whether or not "screed" was the precise word choice isn't a major issue; I think it fits, you don't, editor's choice. But his point was hardly a double standard around smoking and drinking, any more than it was about a double standard around drinking and gay marriage. The smoking issue was illustrative. His point was that too many people are drunk -- by his standards -- in this country; he made that point at least four times.

Your comment about the sin tax situation isn't clear either. I don't like sin taxes -- to be sure, I don't like any excise taxes; I think they're unfair, and have been a bad idea since their inception -- and when I did mention them as a benefit, I did add, parenthetically, "unfortunately," because sin taxes are a fact of life. They are a steady revenue stream for the government, and will never go away. I'd even go so far as to admit that calling them "sin taxes" is hypocritical; they're just taxes. But they always come cloaked in anti-drinking rhetoric.

And if the arguments I use are reminiscent of arguments used by the liquor industry since the late nineteenth century...so what? Why is that necessarily a bad thing, or something that undercuts the argument?

Amy, Alan: why do you drink?

Alan -

Without avoiding that question, I think the more interesting question is why do we care why we drink. As I said above, I think this is a particularly American question so I really do not want to suggest in a backhanded way that I am still judging. But, you know, I have never smoked and I have never felt a tinge of guilt for eating meat - lambs in fields make me salivate. Those are the only other habits of consumption (except perhaps over consumption) that I might compare to drinking. While I may have other sins, I don't dwell on them like I do those related to intake. I wonder how cultural my feelings about how I feel about drinking is.

And, with respect Lew, I don't know anyone who drinks only because of and in the manner suggested by the black headings in your post. I know more people who drink because of stress, boredom, habit, release, to forget and to remember and any number of other somewhat sad sides of life and I really don't think that the overlay of "craft" dramatically alters it. It might even shelter it for many.

Again, for me, I am so distant from the idea of the neo-prohibitionists and concern for their political power that I think I am seeing this from a different point of view...but not necessarily a better one, certainly. You just got me thinking.

LewBryson -

It is an interesting question you pose...and it kind of comes back to a meta-question that keeps coming up here and on other similar blogs -- why do we care/write/think about much of this stuff? Why not just enjoy the beer? There are easy and difficult answers to it all.

I am glad the post engendered thinking; I was only irked a bit because it seemed as if you and Amy had deliberately ignored my acknowledgment of the dangers of drinking. It wasn't there as a figleaf. I think overserving is the worst thing that goes on in North American bars, and it would be a major step forward if we could find a set of policies and behavior modifications that could lessen it. I also believe that brewers/vintners/distillers ignore it at their peril.

As to why I drink, it's been an evolution, as with most things in our lives. At one time I drank for other reasons. Now...I honestly do drink for those reasons on almost all occasions, along with simple refreshment.

You are probably right that the question I pose is an American one. But it looks like the UK and even France are beginning to struggle with it as well.

LewBryson -

Oh, and by the way: glad you got rid of the "I'm human" test. Those things are really annoying. Not sure when you did it, but I thought I'd thank you.

Alan -


I'd be irked too because I have left a typo up there. When I wrote "[s]o, it is not with support but not whole-hearted agreement that I read Lew's thoughtful response" I doubled the "not"s. I have amended out the "not supporting" idea.

Alan -

There, that is better.

You know I am still after almost six years dealing with the "why do I write on these blogs of mine" question, which is sort of meta-meta-why-beer, if you think about it. But because I have to basically plan my access to beer fairly deliberately (given a lack of a pub life, lack of a vibrant local brewing scene, too many kids around the knees and not much time to travel) it is the question that keeps coming back.

Lew Bryson -

That is better. I suspected -- hoped! -- that's what you meant.

Meta-meta-why-beer? We're not going to go round and round in these circles till we disappear up our own butts, are we?

Randy -

It's an interesting conversation that I generally sum up with: it's not anyone's responsibility to govern what I do to myself as long as I am not harming someone else. Past that you could ask a million questions on why anyone does anything that they do. There are all sorts of strange things people willing do to themselves and to each other. We can argue that we don't like its impact on society but that argument holds no more weight than saying that people who seek to control others have a negative impact on society.

I am not a child's parent. If the child is not mine it is not my place to correct them. I may inform the person who was impacted but more than that it's easier to remove myself from the situation. It may seem apathetic but if I don't want people in my business then it only makes sense that I will not get in their own.

People struggle with this question because it is easier to point out and correct the shortcomings of others than to look at oneself and correct the flaws they have full control over. The American society has long been a litigious one that has created an air of judgment and correction. The Puritanical laws still exist to this day. We escaped tyranny to become free and in the process created more rules to restrict freedom. Why? Well we are lazy. We don't want to teach responsibility because that takes effort. It is easier, once again, to blame someone else for the problem and move on.

Why is alcohol a problem? Because we disrespect it. We've created events called football games where it is socially acceptable, nay, socially required, to show up 4 hours early and drink until one cannot remember what the event was they attended. The problem did not occur overnight and certainly the resolution is not to ban alcohol. The solution is to understand alcohol, respect alcohol, and consumption will reduce itself. Our restriction of alcohol consumption only serves to fuel this fire as the more something is restricted the more desirable it become to many people. Those with "inhibition problems" will go to great lengths to obtain the alcohol.

Is it too late to solve the problems? Who knows. We'll never know unless we try and are willing to accept some radical new thinking which most people, sadly, are not open to. It means accepting their own weakness and accepting their own role in this mess and then looking to right the ship. It sounds like I am preaching that we should be more involved in everyone's lives, but it's not. I would like to reiterate that it should be incumbent upon all people to work inside their own home to make society better. Then, when you wrong society, the rules should be in place to bring swift and definitive justice to correct it. You need an identity, and we don't have it. We have conservative rules with a liberal judicial system. Interesting and just a bit delusional.

Anyway... I ramble :)