Well, here’s to the old internet. So far, so locked down. All of the beginnings of the turmoil and anxiety of starting my little brewery are here for anyone who wants to blow the dust off and stare at a blue screen for a while. I think I saw that 386 of you had clicked to cork, or chosen to receive a notification when I posted…is it working? Thank you. I have the tin can up to my mouth and I can see the string attached to it disappear into the murky darkness. And, yes, I am speaking into it!
The string vibrates, shaking off the foggy clouds in the distance. It is another era now.
Do y’all still drink beer? Do y’all still drink MY beer?? It’s a curious thing, this industry. I just had a Sour Hazy whilst in Chi-town. The beer was brewed like a NE IPA, then kettle-soured and dry-hopped to the max after fermentation. I think it was more about the words than the beer. Putting ‘sour’ and ‘hazy’ in the same general area as ‘ipa’ encouraged a reaction in the consumer much like our fabled Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup must have had back in it’s hey-day. I highly doubt that in fifty years or less anyone will recall this particular combination in the beer world. At that time, in the future, I used to pretend to know what was going to prevail in our craft. WAIT. I have to do this:
Craft. Rustic. Artisan. Handmade.
These words that I based my little brewery upon have been treated much like our female population in this country. Yee-ouch! These words are said, but they aren’t afforded the truth that they represent, the meaning has been totally lost to our consumer culture, to our marketing machines and corporate boards. To our beer culture that doesn’t care where the beer comes from or stands for. “Say the words, but don’t mean them. You can say the words, yes. But no, you can’t mean them.” Keebler crackers make an ‘Artisan’ product for crying out loud. Made by the tiny hands of elves, it seems. Those crafty rustic artisans making shit by hand! They probably have elf-bros that go to reese’s peanut butter cup shares and wear their tiny suspenders and knit caps askew, a constant babble on mouthfeel, on ‘intensity’ dribbles off of their portly chins.
Perhaps the haze-bros and the elf-bros commiserate over pastry stouts brewed with peanut butter. The elf-bros drink out of thimbles, the haze bros rest their arms on their ample bellies and they take turns burping and commenting on how chocolatey or peanut-buttery their burps taste. “FUCK.” That word, much like the ones highlighted above, says it all. They all fall asleep, staining their shirts and ascots with the unfinished stout in their mouths.
Do you remember a time when beer drinkers talked about style? Talked about where beer came from, talked about differences between styles and breweries? Some people were actually interested in how the beer was made, fewer wanted to know who made it. Something has happened in the last couple of years. Maybe you’ve missed it. If you have, invite me over for a coffee sometime? I’d really like to just sit in it for a bit. Our beer coolers in our specialty bottle shops are being whittled down to IPA’s and stouts. Generally, all of these beers taste the same. If you don’t know what a haze-bro is, don’t worry. It’s not worth knowing, really. I had envisioned the IPA becoming the pilsner of the future, but we’ve got other things going on. The circus showed up and, by golly, the ring master brews something that resembles beer! I think he loaded it with cotton candy and sprinkled cracker jack bits on top. Umm, wait. I’ve got to go. I’ve got a new beer to brew! Watch out for that trapeze artist, she’s actually a sales rep in disguise and she’s looking
Ok, it’s a bit dramatic for my Welcome Back Kotter episode, but jeez. If there is one place that I am allowed to hyperventilate through my clenched teeth, it’s here. Out there in the real world, I smile. I say, “Tasty!” with a capital T. I feign interest in how these ‘beers’ are brewed, how much ridiculousness can you stuff into a 16-oz can, friends? Is this my gentle sinking into ‘old-man land’? Damn kids. Hm. I would argue Nope with a big fat N. I would argue that, much like our general public and our political ‘leaders’ our beer industry is succumbing to the ease and comfort of wealth. Status quo isn’t necessarily exciting, but it keeps the belly big and the milkshake frothy. It’s like being in that strip mall and not being able to tell if you are in Kansas or California.
I am awfully proud of the folks supporting our brewery. I am honored that there are the lonely few that care about how their product is made, where it comes from, and why on earth we do the things we do. I am trying to adjust how our business model functions in the face of the haze-bros. We will always stand in representation of the farms from where our ingredients come from, we will continue our incredibly manual process of making beer in honor of the craft that has been around for thousands of years. We have some new ideas on how to communicate what we are all about, though. Please stay tuned. I will try to make this a more regular thing again. Go back to go forward!
I head to Norway on Sunday. Headed to the Traditional Norwegian Brewers Fest, where farmers come in from the country to put on display brewing methods that have been around for a very long time. I am bringing my film-making brothers with me to document our experience with the hope that we can share and inspire our rather bland beer culture here in the US. Origin matters. Our history matters. The effort of our ancestors matter a very great deal. I am excited to share with you what I consider to be of value. If we do this, if we respect the platform of those around us who care, who care about anything, we’ll be alright. Right?
stretching out, into the distance the string from the can stands still and hangs. a wren alights upon it, then another. soon, the entire line is clutched by the tiniest of bird talons and their whistling bounces the string. the sound clamors off their hollow bones, resonates through their feet, and the line vibrates again, sending the bird cacophony out our tin cans as we lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to sleep.