"Ah!" That's what I hear you all say... "aaaaaahhhh!" Feet go up. Glasses get adjusted and you tuck yourself in for another fabulous edition of the unscheduled beer news roundup. See, Stan may post a round up every Monday while Boak and Bailey do the same most Saturdays. But it's that unscheduled aspect that brings that extra zest to these particular news items.
=> I am really bored with the anti-shaker glass stuff that is still going around. Strikes me as the next phase of some concerted effort towards the snobbification of beer rolled out to justify supplemental price hikes above inflation. In 2008, a strong argument was made for just sticking one's nose in the glass rather than letting the glass do the work. I described the same thing over at Stan's in 2012. Can't handle a simple beer glass? Already pint-sized Nonic letting you down somehow? Boo hoo. What next? What's it mean? First craft v crafty. Next, local is unreliable. Now, large measures for low prices are bad. Sooner or later beer drinkers are going to realize they can't afford all these big craft demands.
=> The New York Times has jumped into the discussion with an editorial today which includes the assertion "the big brewers have used their clout to try to slow the growth of craft beer companies by offering distributors and retailers incentives not to carry smaller labels." This is really interesting as last night in Massachusetts on Twitter... or is that Twitter broadcast from Massachusetts... Dan Paquette, the co-founder of Boston’s Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, a craft brewery, called out not only bars but other craft brewers who appeared to be offering retailers incentives to get placed ahead of craft brewers who didn't pay to play: "The Mass Brewers Guild has no opinion on buying lines since they have many members who do it as a policy." Jeese, I thought they were steamed over the whole "sandwich tongs" thing. So... if a lot of craft brewers are doing this... what was the NYT's point saying it was a big beer thing? More here on Boston.
=> In case you were wondering, here in Ontario such things are also specifically against the provincial liquor law known as the Liquor License Act. See, section 21 of Regulation 719 states: "The holder of a licence shall not directly or indirectly request, demand or receive any financial or material benefit from a manufacturer of liquor or a representative or an employee of the manufacturer." And section 2(1) of Regulation 720 states: "A manufacturer of liquor or an agent or employee of a manufacturer shall not directly or indirectly offer or give a financial or material inducement to a person who holds a licence or permit under the Act or to an agent or employee of the person for the purpose of increasing the sale or distribution of a brand of liquor." Those two laws ban both sides of the "pay to play" cash for draught lines diddle that was complained about by Pretty Things last night. Ben's already established it goes on in Toronto's craft scene.
=> I never thought I would say it but I am with Paul Mangledorf. Who? The guy quoted at the outset of this piece by anthropologist John W. Arthur thinking out loud about the origins of grain growing being cause by brewing or baking. Why one or the other, says I! Why can't it be both beer and bread concurrently? One interesting nugget noted by Ian S. Hornsey in Chapter 4 of Alcohol and its Role in the Evolution of Human Society, published by The Royal Society of Chemistry in 2012, is how wheat had long been considered the finest grain for the brewing of beer. Evidence of wheat brewing in the Celtic culture of Bavaria dates to 800 BC. It is described as being the basis for the finest beers well into the relatively recent Baroque era in Europe. In North America, wheat held sway until the early 1800s. Barley has been with us for as long as wheat has but, as the poorer foundation for bread, inherently poses a question about the reason for its co-existence. Maybe... just maybe... the two worked to create a range of options. Why wouldn't they?
There. That's likely more than you can handle on a Tuesday. Take it in small bites... or sips I suppose. Stick your nose in deep if you take my advice.