Maybe I am a morning person after all. Again, I am up, wanting to write. The niggling thought in my head about how too much beer writing is sadly like what's found in the auto section, to quote a newspaper editor I know. I was thinking about this as well as the wee hidden essay I found in the e-book... ebook... "Eeee! Book!!" Boak and Bailey put out. No, I have written them back and forth enough that by now we should be on a first name basis. So it's Jessica and Ray's new wee ebook. [Ressica? Maybe.] It's just a compendium of old blog posts ["Just!" tisked Ressica] but its got this new introduction. Not unlike the "best of" records with that one new hit. Hittish thing. Bonus track? Extra content, perhaps. It's just 12 paragraphs long but in it they consider the "why" of thinking a lot about beer and then, extraordinarily, writing about it.
The suggestion is that drinking is an experience diminished by involving the brain, or perhaps even that the very point of drinking is to shut the blasted thing down for a couple of hour. Maybe sometimes, that's true - no-one wants to be the plum on a hen or stag party asking for tasters of ale and taking notes later - but surely the two activities, thinking and drinking, are not always mutually exclusive?
Aside from the questions of punctuation that I as a minimalist would spot, it's an interesting question. Are they? I wonder. Alcohol briefly might heighten the senses and open the mind but with any extended experience both those effects rapidly crash as the door to the outside closes and the mind takes over with its newsreel of past associations, the recollections of things past. Are you fully thinking when even on a semi-lash? One half-sentence alludes to the experience: "[t]here is also something special about walking down a street and seeing a vision of a long-gone pub, or even the ghost of a vast but vanished brewery." I might argue that there are somethings special about that experience which may be fairly distinct depending on a number of variables including how many pints you've downed to that point. A dentist pal used to have a modest amount of beer when studying and then one before the exam. He knew how to leverage alcohol's power of ripening the recollection.
But then there is the other problem. Is the experience transferable? In addition to exploring historical context, BB asks us to consider the examples of greater mindfulness and even meditation as answers to the "why write about beer" they pose at the outset. While awareness of one's beer a part of one's life is rightly considered a good thing - if only due to the dangers it also carries - does this person's appreciation of this sort of experience have anything to offer that person over there... keeping in mind that person is concurrently going through a grab bag of subjective experience of their own already. Again, another hint: '[t]hey are the posts on which we worked the hardest and cared most about." An excellent and honest observation. We write to tell. Admittedly, many write mainly to sell but that's not always the most thoughtful stuff. The human need to fill a fridge has left much on the cutting room floor. Finding those who write to actually tell regardless of return is key. They will be most honest in the endeavor, no?
But, lastly, have they skill enough? Once the author has observed and, then, observed honestly, does the writing convey the observation well? As you might expect, Jessica and Ray demure. They thank and hope at the introduction's end. They hope the reader will enjoy. They hope other writings will be explored next. This is good. I have noticed an ugly trend recently in the tightening pack of beer writers jostling for attention. The use of the words "trust me" - surely an admission of guilt. The writer who asks you to "trust" them has just told you that they are incapable of expressing something compelling enough for your to actually read. Fortunately, Ray and J. need not worry. Their writing entertains and expresses themselves inherently. Not only are their observations keen but the slightly reserved style they employ hints to their own nature. English reticence balanced with... perhaps even struggling with a touch of hypomania. Likely minds irritated by those seeking to stick them with nicknames yet minds that are, as they say, perhaps prone to causing trouble. Too rare a thing.
"Back of a Beer Mat: Bits from the Blog" can be found here and, tah-dah, it's free. Worth exploring.