Place and State – Beer

It’s been a long time coming, this moment in time…all roads lead to this as it were. In this universe, I’m not exactly the rich man I might have dreamt of years ago, but I’ve had a good run so far. One of the things I’ve learned over those years is the singular joy of the right pint at the right time and the right place. It’s not a hard thing to find if you know what you like and don’t mind getting out in the streets to hunt it down. 

I came to this understanding through the help of friends and family as well. I’ve been able to enjoy fantastic beer together with people I love and it’s been an enhancing factor. Right now as I write this up there’s an older man sitting at the table nearby talking to his friends about how great it is to stop and have a beer while doing long bicycle rides in and around Portland. It’s hard tot ell if he’s more into the cycling or the beering, but it’s clear he enjoys both immensely. I’m not even sitting at a brewery right now and I overhear this discussion I’m writing about. It’s not a coincidence, or is it? 

Recent conversations with people on twitter seem to be about expanding the common discussion about beer, reviving the writer culture and getting some new, constructive coverage of all the things going on in the brewing industry. It’s a bit of a non-starter for me, as I’ve had this nascent blog for a while now and dozens of half-completed outlines for topics that got covered by people I respect already. It’s funny how often something comes to me, and then it hits a headline a few months later. Who am I in this? I’ll get to that in a second, but basically nobody but a beer nerd that knows too much. 

I say that because some in the industry still don’t know or see the benefit of supporting this kinds of activity. I was recently in an eastern state and ran across the owner of a local brewery that has been ranked in the top-5 of many bucket lists after a metoric rise. We were literally standing in line at the local dairy ice cream window and conversation was struck up because o brewery logo’d clothing – everything I own has a brewery logo on it so it’s not hard to identify me or my friends. It was a short conversation but in it I mentioned beer writers and blogging, basic PR and local engagement. In hindsight, I should have seen his dismissive attitude written in big letters in the sky; this brewery exists without any outside distribution or even local keg/retail sales outside of the brewery location itself. 

I’m not going to put a lot into this as a judgement of this person, it wasn’t a formal interview and I would have liked to ask him questions all day about various topics unique to his brewery and the way it operates. The thing that I can’t un-know, however, is that other popular breweries that rose in fame in the last decade also operate with and certain self-centric righteous attitude that can be alienating to customers and people covering the industry itself. I have had firsthand experience with multiple breweries around the country that act like it’s an ac of great privilege to have their beer, ‘thanks so much for driving xx hours on 2-lane roads to our tiny little town’ sort of stuff.  

I may write about those incidents in the future but for now I’ll just say this behavior is injurious to the industry I love. I moved to Oregon 4 years ago to be immersed in beer culture and had a few false starts along the way, but still found myself in just the right place to learn a lot about situation on the ground. I want to know more, always, and am inspired by others who have chosen this path. I have kept decent track of my travels over the last decade or so and untappd has proven useful in this as well, although it’s an incomplete record of my experiences. All of this will be linked and hopefully developed here over the coming months and years, as my goal is to become the resource for this burgeoning class of scribes we really need. 

This is a response to the call for more grass-roots writers and 0observers to becoming involved in the beer industry and keeping track of the great and the good and the terrible in it. Too many people approach craft beer without the knowledge to enjoy it as deeply as I do. Not everyone needs this immersion but if they did they might have a hard time getting digestible information on the topics they have questions about. The rapid spread of styles and breweries has outpaced the local production of recorders and this lack of local coverage will be a critical factor in closures and revised business plans for hundreds of small breweries around the country. 

Having traveled as much as I have – with the desire to travel more – I recognize that some different approaches and attitudes might be voiced, but I hope to make this a platform to develop or even offer a portal to local writers, eventually. Being right about beer means letting other people be right about things you may not agree with as well, but I’ll try not to let myself fall into that trap. I’m going to give bad reviews and probably say things that people don’t like, even specifically about breweries and the people that work in them if it comes up in my work. This won’t be just fluffy reviews and gold-starred profiles of brewer courage, I won’t hedge my words to court favor and gain access. I’m not that kind of guy and frankly, I’m pretty sick of seeing this kind of behavior in public in general (I will avail myself to avoid political talk but it will come up in these matters eventually, inevitably, as the cost of doing business is political).  

Stay with me, check back soon, and share your links in the comments. I hope to develop this site in the coming weeks with more content and eventually it’ll generate itself. To be right about beer you need to have all the information…