Over the last decade in Canadian politics we have witnessed the implementation of a new sort of social engineering aimed at specifically undoing what is claimed to be a former set of social engineering. We are asked to go along as part of the reversal of a pendulum swing or, worse, a resetting of affairs back to some fictitious normal. I am starting to have a creeping suspicion that I am witnessing the same sort of constructed re-truthing with good beer. Bigger than any one participant, here are some illustrations:
♦ I found Lew's recent post about the limited role of homebrewing in the US craft moment a bit reengineering-esque. Not the sort of thing I expect from my Lew reading. I think it is a fair statement to say that US beer is outgrowing the homebrewing connection but that does not mean the 90 degree turn to massive hops that gathered pace in early 2000s makes the home brew inspired brown ale revolution of the 1990s a side show. Pleased to have caught the shift in this 2004 post early on in my edjification. How do we describe this multi-faceted history if not based on the shoulders of US home brewers who stood on the shoulders of their earlier UK counterparts? It's not like Papazian invented the stuff.
♦ Jeff has thrown his lot in with a very large project, the entire description of flavour: "I harbor the idea that it's possible to come up with a system that allows diners to select appropriate beers for their meals. I further harbor the idea that the key has nothing to do with styles and everything to do with flavor elements in beer." I enjoy a goose chase as much as the next guy but I fear the flavouristas. I don't look forward to being told how wrong I am by this brave new movement. And at needless expense at that.
♦ Stan reports upon a brewery that has been working upon its 285th experimental project. Boak and Bailey confirm the obvious truth that many who jump into good beer jump far too soon. Getting the good stuff right is a challenge enough. Do we really need to accept these many who, if this were the 1800s, might be accused of being adulterous? Hiding fault or, worse, a similar or even dull drink though supposedly canny adjuncts and techniques does begin to wear - and not just because of the embarrassing surcharge for their assertion of pleasure and place. I used to think that the brewer who could coax notes of apple and pear out of pale malt as part of their standard line up were the best. I still do.
It seems part of a bigger thing. Since Michael Jackson passed, there has been a subtle jostling to fill his boots. Or sometimes not so subtle... though to be fair "one of" has been a welcome restatement. There is also a related real struggle to make a buck. People who have found interest in good beer are now wanting to make a go at it as more of a job which means recognition of expertise on a topic that does not actually attract expertise so much as simply experienced familiarity. [Could you imaging a suit for professional negligence in the field?] As a result, what a real struggle it is. Not only is good beer under appreciated as a topic, there really is not that much to write about. Notice how many style guides for newbies there are? How many lists of important beers to have? We do not really need 100 full time professional beer writers in English. We can make do with under 30. I doubt there are really ten dedicated exclusive beer writers making a real living in the language. Shocking? Why? Does the topic demand more? Has it earned its place with other more complex topics? Or is it just because it's the topic you like?
Similarly, would a bit of a craft brew market collapse not be timely - and sooner rather than later? When movements become too elaborate, too focused on the accessories you know you are close to the end of something not the beginning. Are we there yet? Sign me up when the back to basics snake oil salesman comes to town.