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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Jordan St.john -

Bandaids. Wet-Wipes. Aspirin.

Nothing wrong with a generic term. All a restrictive categorical division does is set up a name brand for which the producer can charge more. Semantic distinction in the name of profit motive.

Alan -

And there is nothing wrong with that but admit things are what they are. Plus, in particular, I do find the claims to longevity of production going back to the 1970s odd when facing one back to 1882. Has anyone gone behind the PR? I bought one book on lambics which was recommended but it was weak.

Jeff Alworth -

Alan, I think it's fine to disagree about what to call beer. And i inadvertently start the tempest with my own off-hand tweet to an off-hand tweet--one I've subsequently apologized for.

What I'm not ready to apologize for us taking something seriously. Among beer geeks, there's a tendency to dismiss any view as douchey snobbery. It's a way of shutting down discussion. I *do* care about what people call American lambics. I think most people don't understand why they may be different than other styles. I get that you disagree, but calling me "perversely intense" or whatever it was--I don't get that.

To your point about Cantillon, Jean-Pierre married into the family that had been making them since 1937--my quick and dirty research suggested it was four generations, but maybe it was three. It quite clearly in no way changes my point about the heritage of the style. I could have easily used Frank Boon, who is a first gen lambic maker. He comes from a brewing family, but only learned the craft in the 1960s and 70s when his mentor, an old lambic brewer name De Vits, instructed him.

As far as I can tell, lambics are among the least "branded" styles on earth, and they have historically been one of the most endangered. Other Belgian breweries regularly appropriated names from lambic-makers for different styles of beer. With kriek, they managed to prize it away, and now the ubiquitous Belgian krieks have nothing to do with lambic. In a last-ditch effort it save the style, brewers and blenders got a PGI to protect some of their tradition. For me, reserving the word for that one type of beer--certainly distinct from the wild ales made in the US--is a matter both of respecting the style and also trying to preserve it.

It's nothing to do with branding.

Alan -

I got the two generations from the age of the technique of production, not the family. I understand that it was in the 1970s that Dad stopped the sweetening. That was in the 2007 interview.

Again, approaching the retail approach of Cantillon as having nothing to do with branding is absolutist - how can one take "nothing" otherwise? No one with a Shelton distribution agreement is not involved with branding. Further, they are the most aggressive marketers in all of lambic brewing, special global release days and unconventional brews are right out of the US craft hymnal. There is nothing wrong with it but it is what it is.

I have nothing against taking something serious but it requires inquiry. I am not clear on why this topic does not deserve that digging.

Jeff Alworth -

<i>I have nothing against taking something serious but it requires inquiry. I am not clear on why this topic does not deserve that digging.</i>

Totally agree, which is what my post did. It gave everyone data and opinion to jump off with agreement, disagreement, and corrections. And I'm totally cool with that. What I found off-putting was that you would personalize it, which actually closes off discussion and sends us down rabbit-hole flame wars. When you say Cantillon is a clever company trading on a brand that is no different from A-B, that's something to consider. When you say I haven't thought deeply about something (with respect, but you haven't much insight into that) or that my "fervency is a bit weird," then we are talking about me, not the issue. Do either of us want to talk about me? I certainly don't.

Jeff Alworth -

Whoops--I forgot the "em" tags.

Alan -

OK, I took it as you personalizing it, but not about me... about you. I see, as you have said, as taking this on as a passionate thing. But what I don't see you as explaning is why this evokes that degree of passion. You explained that you had a strong position but not why this thing touches you this deeply. Sure I may come off as a dink but I like to think of myself as a caring one. Fervour is good not an accusation. It is weird to me, too, but in the sense of really unfamiliar not like the guy at the circus who bites off chicken heads. It is about you but I want to know why you feel this way about this brewer and this style so deeply. The can't not be about you.

I didn't say they were like A-B. But a Dogfish Head comes to mind. Maybe even Allagash as they've openly pursued higher price points. The are marketing. I bet they get a higher cut on US sales than the home market retail, for example. Because they are smart business folk and good brewers.

Alan -

BTW, I can't post comments from an iPad or iPhone to your blog. I drained two iPhones at a kids's softball tourney doing this. That's commitment.