The world of beer thought is a bit of an echo chamber. This is natural given how, until relatively recently, few have written about good beer in a way that actually invites consideration and discussion. The good thing about this as we go forward and good independent beer writing continues to expand is that there is every likelihood that many current assumptions will be tossed aside opening up the opportunity for new ways of brewing as well as discussing and enjoying beer. The current log jam suggesting the supremacy of hops may come back into balance with renewed respect for the contributions of yeast and malt. The upward spiral of price allegedly in line with new startling perfections seemingly beyond understanding, say, 18 months ago might run headlong into the reality of consumer demand as well. Well, we can hope and dream can't we?
Given the pressures against and battles for greater observation and reporting, decontextualizing is helpful. Most topics, after all, are not special. For example, being the occasional buyer of odd things like steel, software and fire trucks I am somewhat girded against arguments made justify or even supporting price increases in beer. But better than just drawing on one's own range of experiences, seeking out ideas in other similar areas with richer bodies of thought is useful. Obviously, books about other classes of drink are worth reading as part of that and one of my favorites is Wine Snobbery by Andrew Barr. I've mentioned it in a couple of posts over the years. The various functions of marketing, adulteration, price inflation, exclusivity, conspicuous consumtion and mystification are all examined with illustrations from the trade through the centuries. Barr confirms in many ways how the taste of the fluid is less central to its reception as one would have assumed. Here's someone else's thoughts on the book.
My copy is 23 years old this year. It appears to be part of a series of books on wine by the publishers Faber and Faber which may have been wound up some years ago. I have had the books on Sherry and German Wines for some time and have been picking up used copies of others online recently. As good a place to start yourself if you are interested in other points of view.