Life is apparently stranger than the Alan and Max book because I would not have thought about abusing the hipster kid during the interrogation scene with an accusation like this:
One thing occurred to me the next day as I thought back through the beers I tasted: only one was an import. That bottle, also incredibly rare (I don't even know the benefactor), was a '97 Samichlaus. But beyond that, nada. No Cantillon, no Westvleteren. No vintage Orval, no Mikkeller. No Aventinus. This may well have been an anomaly, but I don't think so. We are now so awash in beer that it's impossible to keep up with what's happening in our home town--what to speak of across the sea. The dictates of an ever sharpening novelty curve mean breweries don't just release a handful of specialty beers each year, they release dozens. There are anniversary beers, barrel-aged series, wild yeast programs, and on and on. Lots and lots to keep up with.
That's Jeff's experience I have quoted heavily from. It's a lovely and surprising one for a few reasons not the least of which being my desire never to attend one of these things. Jeff can pop around anytime but it's catch as catch can, got it? Anyway, first thing to see is that it's all so freeing. If we go back to the beginning of style, to the words of Jackson we know that style and classic beers are bound together. We know that a style is a beer styled after a classic. To reject classic is to reject style. Which is what the novelty curve is. It is Luther in a glass... or, better, from the bottle.
But it's more than that. It creates a reliable division. When I was young I took up the cause of learning about beer. No one else did. They just liked their beer. I have books, have kept records of sorts including this blog and even traveled seeking to fill in gaps in the structure of my understanding like I bought hockey cards packs as a child hoping to get that one last elusive Oakland Seal left winger. If that no longer matters, if the point now is the experience of novel sensation does that intellectual structure matter anymore? Do jams have a construct? Do sauces? No. So why should the new beers?
Which draws me to another thought that has been bouncing around my skull for a while. The new beer is sauce. Bear with me. Worcestershire sauce illustrates the point. It's from the 1830s, born about when classic beers started coalescing into what we recognize today. A lot of nutty ingredients put in a barrel and left to age. Sound familiar? Further, want another flavour? Swap one in to make a new sauce. That's the way it is, right? Heck, these days you want a hint of mango all you need to do is draw from the library of new hybridized hop sensations and, surprise, your beer tastes like a mango.
Somewhere I have a Bertrand Russell essay on the golden mean and how it was a conspiracy by the old and established against the young and energetic. Moderation. As in moderating towards something. Something someone else asserts. Beer as sauce rejects that. I have no interest in beer as sauce but, as you know, I am not all that keen on style either. So, unlike Jeff, I do not counsel you to get your daily serving of beer classics like the bran that's more and more in my diet. Nor do I counsel beer as sauce anymore than I bought into 2011's dream of the beer dinner as the way forward. You are on your own. What's next?