As we continue to witness what Donald Rumsfeld might have called an "Old Europe" approach to good beer rages on with more and more interested parties jumping into the discussion to express deep shock that a falsely founded PR mumbo jumbo cash grab that aims to make folk question beer is being passed around offending those who know that falsely founded PR mumbo jumbo cash grabs that aim to make folk support beer are the only righteous way to go... from another direction a little waft of fresh air is sensed. Another example of the new way of thinking and expressing about the pleasures of beer.
Evan Rail is an old friend of this blog, an American in Prague who is making his way in the world as a writer of things. In addition for his hospitality and travel writing in newspapers and magazines, he is building up quite an inventory of shortish writings on beer and beer culture in both fiction and non-fiction with a voice that is quite singular. In "The Brewery in the Bohemian Forest" Evan provides a personal essay on his hunt for an ancient brewing log, a beer from Kout na Šumavě and how he brought Anthony Bourdain to the Czech woods to share it.
...Bourdain might be a great TV host, but he acknowledged that he is truly not much of a beer guy, preferring brand-name, mass-market lagers of the type that sponsor sporting events. At one point he asked what I thought of Heineken. Well, he liked it, anyway. We entered the old maltings, holding our beers, looking for things to talk about while the cameras rolled. A musty smell occupied the ground floor among what seemed to be the very same remaining bits of trash and litter that had been there when I’d visited a few months earlier; I thought I could hear a door banging in the wind somewhere as our group — the cameraman, soundman, two producers, the fixer, Bourdain, Mr. Skala and myself — filled up the hollow space where the kettles had once stood...
I like how Evan writes. He writes differently that I do. He writes ascend where I might climb a stair. But it is a rich, observant form of writing. He puts you in spaces with him and, this being a personal essay, he shares his thoughts and the moment. Of Bourdain: "He cracked a grin but stayed hands-off and distant, and often seemed to be somewhere else." Of a hop: "Saaz can present itself in any number of ways, from fresh orange blossoms to orange pekoe tea to sticky young marijuana buds." Of a room: "The walls shone with the region’s traditional pastel-green paint; the woodgrain of the doors peeked through a much deeper green wash."
I like the idea of lots of varied forms of beer writing as you might have guessed from my own attempts. While I wish there was more of us trying, that is no mark against Evan's work. He leads the pack if there is one and gives inspiration that should trigger not only imitators but efforts off in other new directions. Needless to say, I recommend you spend the half handful of change he is asking for his work.