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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Gary Gillman -

Very interesting. In my experience, the best internationally known wine writers - e.g., Hugh Jonhson, Jancis Robinson, are most respectful of beer. They don't need to be persuaded, they just know that the two are companions of gastronomy (as Michael Jackson once put it memorably). Our local wine writers, e.g., Beppi Crossariol (Toronto-based) generally again admire beer.

In that comment quoted from the magazine about beer buffs being boring and unattractive, I'm almost certain the writer was being ironic. He or she was playing to the stereotype of beer to debunk it. If I am wrong about that, well, what can you say, some people can't see the forest for the trees...

I think good beer though needs active promoting. A good thing can go unnoticed for too long and may die away, with the result that the coterie is harmed no less. It's no different with Champagne, foie gras, malt whisky or whatever. All these products have associations and boosters to maintain standards and keep the public interested. A good thing, but I agree that in general, it is best to leave the wine people alone about beer. The true gastronomes amongst them will discover it themselves.


Alan -

I have no time for irony on a Saturday.

Me? I like things that are not subject to general hype or mass consumption: sherry, port, blue cheese, banjos. Not because I am more clver than the average Joe - I just want to protect and maximize my QPR: quality price ratio. Yes, I want a decent supply of craft brew. No, I do not want other deeper pockets to define the price I pay.

Craig -

Why do I care if wine drinkers might like Saison? I don't care what car they drive, or what color there pajamas are. Why should their beer drinking habits effect me either.

Alan -

Because, like Canadians newly arrived at a youth hostel, craft beer fans want everyone to like them. Wine drinkers? They don't care.

Ron Pattinson -

I'm a promiscuous piss-head. I'll happily slurp just about anything with alcohol in it. I don't see competition between beer and wine, any more than I do between beer and rubbing alcohol. Those who do, need to grow up. Or sober down.

FlagonofAle -

I couldn't agree more. Beer is not wine. In a related story, wine is also not beer.

and this: "Hot wings, hot dogs, potato chips = Beer." made me hungry. And want a beer.

Ethan -

"Is it because beverage consultants wish to expand their customer base that these odd and unhelpful experiments and challenges go on?"

Well sure, to some extent. The problem is treating the existence of such things as a black or white, good v. evil, idea. People come to these things, pay for them: they're not press-ganged... so, how should one honestly describe efforts to satisfy their curiosity about "craft," (or whatever you want to call 'not-InBev' beer?) You really want them to just skip the saison, keep drinking Labatts? I thought you liked beer!

I enjoy just talking about, a.k.a. educating people about how cool beer is; it's that simple- isn't that why you write a good blog about beer, and not about any ol' drink? I'm not an evangelical, I'm just passionate. About beer. If you don't want to share, because it might impact your bottom line, that's fine I suppose- but sharing is caring, baby. Even if it means your favorite band might move on to stadium shows; go ahead and make that cassette tape.

And even though I believe that, I believe as well, above: "The true gastronomes amongst them will discover it themselves." Indeed: as many wine aficionados as beer aficionados are just following trends. What is ever new? I don't feel a sense of convincing, I feel a sense of exposing, of sharing- with a willing audience.

As well, I have certainly broadened my depth-of-knowledge about wine by doing these events. For sure, just as in Pete Brown's write up, I have often admitted wine to work better for a pairing- playing up the "competition" aspect is just a vehicle for keeping people engaged and having fun, big whoop; it's not indicative of the beer sides' pathetic needs, or a necessary sense of competition beyond the entertainment aspect of it. Indeed, I'd say one big difference--criticism, really-- I have learned about "training" and so forth is that your average sommelier knows far more about beer than your average beer geek (em, Cicerone?) does about wine, that their training includes a bunch about beer and spirits. So in doing these I have really enjoyed learning more about something I don't otherwise have a ton of time to devote to; I think it's like that for the whole class.

Alan -

Well, I appreciate all that and I certainly could not disagree with any of it but... here's the thing... I am as cranky with beer as I like it. It has opened strange doors but also remains elusive. I have no idea what to do with the information I have gathered over the years, especially living in this part of Canada where I can't open a corner store and sell beer. That would be a no brainer if I was in upstate NY. I hear that the grocery store I gave some advice to has seen a big bump in beer revenue.

So, when I explore, I am interested in the good and the bad. It makes me fat, it places a drag on you. I am also aware of a constant supply of people in the beer world who "lived like they wanted to" or "passed sadly young". There is a licentiousness about the craft beer thing, too, the cover for some and their inordinate consumption. I have had more than one person share with me that they would like to get more into the trade but they don't know if they could handle the constant parade of events and drinking.

Me, I like wine. I actually like sweet wines like Hungarian Tokay, port from Oporto, Spanish sherries and Greek Mavrodaphne. I like pulling a bottle out when we might have someone over but I presume they are going to find it too cloying. Similarly with good beer. It took me a couple of years working on a pal to open a gueuze for him. Was it good timing or my own hoarding? I am as generous as the next guy but I tend to share what I think people can take as much to explain myself as to invite them into the coven of beer fans.

That all being said, I do find the beer and fine food thing a failed strategy and screamingly needy. I may have a NNY event this summer, a mini beer fest, in support of my NPR station which I hope will see me stressing the ordinary goodness as much as the finesse of good beer.