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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Chris -

Risen can hit the mark sometimes, but I think you're on point with the "inattentive craft beer fan" remark. He too often comes across as someone who willfully ignores the good beer scene for months at a time, then comes back to it for a moment and recycles the bulletpoints that amassed in his absence and throws it all into a story. I mean, how many times are we going to have to read the 'ol "Saison is a terrific summer beer" story?

Chris -

I think it should be "Sez-o(n)"

Craig -

Willamette is Will-am-et, not Willa-met. That had me screwed up for years.

Alan -

You can let that one go. I pronounce it "VEEL-ham-moot" myself.

Jeff Alworth -

Alan, you would really say, "I had three beer before I even got to the party"? Is this comedy? That's some kind of crazy way of talking.

VEEL ham moot is acceptable.

Alan -

I can only report them as I sees them. From at least eastern Ontario to the Maritimes, the common parlance is that the plural and singular of "beer" have the same spelling. You will be excited to know that in Polish there are three words: singular, small plural (2-5) and large plural (6+).

Clay Risen -

In all honesty, sometimes I read posts like this, in response to my pieces aimed at non-craft-beer drinkers, and all I can think of is:


Tom -

Right back at'cha, Clay. Sorry, I expect better from the New York Times. Thus, when your article sounds like something I might get in my local paper, you deserved to get called on it. For God's sake, you're the New York Times! Act like it!

Chris -

Splendid, Clay. So on top of the sub-par, lazy writing, you're a jerk as well?

Alan -

But, Clay, I read paid writing like yours in this case and wonder why your facts are wrong (like the price of Dupont) or ideas weakly put (like the IPA observation) - not how you remind me of a funny skit. Confusing my writing with a Trekkie is a bit silly and aggrandizing for you, too, but you likely thought the pronunciation stuff was a personal complaint if you are this chippy. You can lighten up now. Yet you may have a point on the IPA trend. Are you really seeing that?

Alan -

Oddly, someone else is waaaay more bothered by this than me. I am still much more interested in the IPA observation.

Clay Risen -

I'm sorry to have offended you. You're right, that was a little juvenile of me.

But in all honesty, the anger that comes out in your post, over a pretty anodyne, short piece about saisons, is both frustrating and a bit, well, funny (frustrating, because I do respect your writing). In any case, I think you're reading too much into an off-handed characterization: "IPA-swilling public" just means that lots of people who think of summer beers think of IPAs. That's not a bad thing -- I love IPAs. I just mean lots of people drink IPAs would probably love saisons if they were aware of them. I don't think anyone else but you took it otherwise.

And while I'm not going to argue about which of us should "lighten up," I do think it's a bit of the pot calling the kettle black.

Alan -

Thank you for commenting again and explaining. I have to tell you none of that was written in anger but maybe I was being literally thoughtless.

Here is how I look at what I wrote. I am actually seeing a IPA backlash and tensions in response elsewhere (including here) and wondering what you had seen, too. Frankly, the stuff before it was sort of space filler to get to that point. Maybe, as a result, I was not paying attention to the cumulative effect. Maybe it reads meaner than I intended. Sounds like it does.

But the whole pronunciation thing is not me making fun, either, just having fun with my own actual pronunciations. I (being Canadian) do actually have what is called "milk carton French" so I was just playing with the idea, not mocking. I really do say "le buuuuut!!" as well as "three beers". So, when I wrote "I stopped and then I stopped myself" I did mean that I was correcting myself for being a tool. I have family and friends in newspaper world and find the persnickety effect of pronunciation guides, well persnickety... but then I thought about what I was thinking and just typed it out. Again, written off the cuff and I was not seeing it also reads like a pile on.

So, big hug. Yes, I did think you voted too early on the Oxford Companion wiki (aka "laid an egg") and missed the point but many shared your view and... at least you did not suggest, unlike that twerp Roger Protz, that I was kinfolk of the Nazis. Now there is one crazy angry man.

Let us lighten up together. Me first. And I will pay more attention, too.

Nitch -

If you'd like the input of a lady living in France at the moment : Saison

And it literally just means season or harvest season.

Now lets all have a pint to honor miscommunication!

Clay Risen -

Actually, I thought the pronunciation thing was really interesting.

On the IPA question, I think it's a question of where a piece is directed. For most of our readers who like beer, IPAs are still the "it" beer for the summer, and saisons are barely on their radar, if at all. So, yeah, there is that nascent reaction against IPAs, but not among the average bar-goer. (Also, I don't know if it's a reaction against IPAs per se, but rather, as So did with the Slate piece, a critique of aggressively hoppy beers.)

Alan -

Yes. What I am also wondering is whether there is some sort of sub culture tension between establishment craft hop heads and, for back of another word, les saisonnaires a third wave of craft fan (after the 90s malty goodness set now roughly in their 35 to 55 year range and then hopsters 30 to 45) who may be even younger people interested in beer whose tastes are more eclectic and defining themselves as a cohort. You sort of see that in the Toronto scene and maybe the UK but not so much in the US expect maybe for pockets. Checking in at Bellwoods for the first time tomorrow, a focus of the new TO scene.

Clay Risen -

Interesting. You might expect so, right? I'll keep my eyes out for it. You should write that up as a speculative post, and see what people say.

Jeff Alworth -

I'd like to see that post as well. It might give me an excuse to riff on it myself. On these matters, I have some thoughts.

Alan -

OK... OK already. Pro writers pushing around the little guy... What a situation. On the upside, saw a double steal tonight. Can probably work that into the post, too.

Ethan -

Bellwoods is outstanding!

Clay Risen -

For what it's worth, from today's Shanken News Daily:

"IPA Style Leads Craft Beer’s Charge, Say Retailers"


That doesn't mean squat to your thesis, of course. It only makes it more interesting if IPA is surging at the same point that it's losing favor among insiders. Same as it ever was, no?

Stan Hieronymus -

Isn't the trend of the summer "session IPA" or some [White-Belgian-Fill in the blank] IPA? The letters seem to sell the beer.

As long as you are here, Clay, one problem I had with you suggestions is they were rather strong. And that seems to be the ongoing situation with saisons. Brewers say they are harder to sell at lower abv (or at the right price point, or some combination).

I love Boulevard Tank 7 (it's a good price, cheaper than Saison Brett, and readily available), but 8.5% is not a beer you knock back 3 of after mowing the grass.

Alan -

Did any of youse guys bring snacks?

Jeff Alworth -

Alan: I was wondering who you were talking about with this "pro writer" business. Until the Gray Lady deigns to answer my emails, I think "blogger" remains the best fit.

Stan: agreed. And saisons are easily one of the best beers to brew at or below 5%--they have such flavor! (On the other hand, Tank 7 has to be on that list.)

Alan -

This comment thread now needs an angry brewer's view of something off topic. Me, I just woke up in a motel in Owen Sound and need to go buy something plaid and flannel because there's a frost warning. Go Canada go.