One of the more revitalizing things to come out of the weekend was the opportunity to listen to to people discuss beer. Whether in a conversation struck up with partying fans in the shuttle bus or more formally in the speakers' sessions, people were describing beer. We speak of beer as a social lubricant but neatly, conveniently forget that it also a huge anti-social lubricant, too. But in either case it is universally an inhibitions relaxant. And when we are relaxed we talk more. So, building on this post from a couple of weeks ago, here are some of the things I heard discussed - new things or new ways of thinking about things:
→ "intention" - Mr. B. spoke at a panel about how "craft" was a dissatisfying word and how one had to be open to considering the brewer's intention. Many brewers call themselves "craft" but few have the intention to craft their beer or, perhaps to be fairer, crafting is a not always the option thought available to maintain the business. Does the best brewer most freely "intend" to "craft" his or her beer? Perhaps.
→ "scene" - this word was also brought up in the music and beer presentation and seemed to catch on with the audience. I suggested that "scene" required a loosening of the lines between producer and consumer, that like the Halifax music scene of the '80s and '90s constant feedback and even being both the musician at one point and the fan at another defined "scene." Interesting, for me, I came away with the realization that "rock star" brewers could never define a scene.
→ "ambition" - I had a very interesting moment watching brewers watch brewers. There was a gentle suggestion, perhaps amplified by the use of two languages, that an opinion of a certain beer was by necessity not as good because it was not made by the speaker. Next moment there was a very capable brewer actually a bit tongue tied in the face of another. It made me think about the challenges to ambition, that the life of the individual who brews can be limited by the owner's business plan as much as the challenge to confidence leveled by the fine product of another. Challenges to ambition affect intention.
→ "fun" - I heard over and over again how the intention of Beau's was to make great beer and have fun doing it. I am not talking about the somewhat uncomfortably manic fun of, say, a Calagione but the steady hand of ensuring the both the particular event and the brewery's work generally grew year to year in surprising and delighting. Beer is a pleasure trade, after all, and if "fun" is put to the side it can really show. But "fun" has its limits and with beer that includes moving from fun to unsafe or being an arsehole. It was amazing to watch how careful planning defined fun as taking people from here to there but not past it to that. Pricing, layout, hours of opening, staffing and security as well as sheer visual design all worked together to help keep as many people (whether they knew it or not) as possible at "fun".
I am sure there are more ideas that will burble back up or be built upon. What have you heard lately?