The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, begun in March of 2007 by Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer and Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin.
On the first Friday of every month, a pre-determined beer blogger hosts The Session: Beer Blogging Friday. He or she chooses a specific, beer-related topic, invites all bloggers to write on it, and posts a roundup of all the responses received. For more information, or to ask to host, go to the home page.
For The Session: Beer Blogging Friday #111, Oliver Gray —of Literature & Libation— is the host. His theme for bloggers: "Surviving a Beer Midlife Crisis." Elucidating, he wrote this:
I don’t work in the beer industry. OK, yes, sometimes I get paid to write about beer, but that money does not my livelihood make. Despite pouring myself into brewing and beer culture for the last 6 years, I remain little more than an overly involved consumer. [...]
Recently, I’ve found my interest in said hobby waning. The brilliant luster of new beers and new breweries looks now, a few pounds heavier and a bunch of dollars lighter, more like dull aluminum oxide.
The thing I have embraced so fully and spent so much time getting to know and love, suddenly seems generally, unequivocally: meh. It’s like I’ve been living a lie, and everything I’ve done is for not. I’m having a beer mid-life crisis, yo.
Maybe it’s the politics of purchasing or selling. Maybe the subculture has peaked. Maybe this is the natural progression of a hobby that has no real tie to the industry behind it. [...]
Do you find it hard to muster the same zeal for beer as you did a few years ago? Are you suffering through a beer-life crisis like I am? If so, how do you deal with it?
Years before the term 'craft' became a 'thing,' in the early days of microbrewing, the New Yorker printed a cartoon of a gentleman, on an airliner, requesting a "microbrew." The flight attendant (who may have been called stewardess or steward back then) returned with a tiny 1.7-ounce micro-bottle of beer, just like a booze miniature. Funny.
Maybe I only imagined this and the New Yorker never actually did publish this cartoon, and I believed that they should have.
Many things have changed since then. The best change is what I call the "main-streeting of good beer." Quoting myself:
Where and when good beer had been seldom seen anywhere, we would work toward taking it everywhere —not simply skulking in subterranean beer-geek grottos or pontificating in haughty beer Xanadus— but by bringing it everywhere, to every corner shop and every pub, to every suburban chain-store restaurant and every urban white-tablecloth foodie haven, to shopping malls and 7-11s, to big-box stores and to independent wine and beer shops. We're not quite there yet, but the times, they are a' changing.
Unlike Mr. Gray, I do work in the beer industry, and have for a quarter-century. And I enjoy beer. Quoting myself again,
I have a love affair with beer: not simply its flavors —as delicious, complex, and varied as they may be— but with its history, science, lore, business, and evolving creation.
I would say to Mr. Gray, and others with 'craft' beer ennui: forget about the 'craft' revolution.
Forget about the solipsistic "I am a craft-brewer" rants. Forget about the superciliousness of the mushrooming beer-expert class. Forget about the [U.S.] Brewers Association's tortuous, moving-goalpost definition of a 'craft' brewery (which curiously omits a definition of 'craft' beer). Forget about badly brewed beers. Forget about badly served beers, and stale beers on store shelves. Forget about 'craft' mergers and acquisitions, and hypocrisy and fevered screeds.
Forget about 'craft.'
Instead, I'd say to Mr. Gray and others suffering from a mid-life beer crisis to meditate on the joyful pleasure implied by the simple phrase: "Let's go grab a beer."
And then to do this. Find a good beer. Enjoy the beer. Forget the hype.
Every lunchtime he would walk all the way across St Albans, passing a dozen or pubs or more, to the one house in the city that sold the Bedford bitter.—Roger Protz. The Great British Beer Book. 1992.
His performance never varied.
As he entered the public bar he would raise his finger and Ken the landlord would reach for a pint glass and fill it as David walked to the counter.
He never rushed.
He looked at the pint for a moment or two, waiting for the beer to settle and the head to form. Then he would reach for the glass and fleetingly hold it up to the light, savouring the crystal clarity and tawny colour of the beer.
Then, and only then, would he put the glass to his lips and despatch a good third of its contents. A great explosion of pleasure, a long orgasmic 'Aaaagh!', accompanied the return of the glass to the bar.
David would suck the foam from his moustache and then say to the bar and to the world in general all that needed to be said on the subject of the quality, the pleasure, the unalloyed brilliance of his beer.
"Not bad, that."
- Twitter-er WeirdB created the tongue-in-cheek drawing of the tongue flavor receptors.
- I've apparently re-quoted myself quoting Roger Protz, and from a prior Beer Blogging Friday. In the May 2014 The Session #85: Why do I drink?, I used the identical quotation from The Great British Beer Book. On that occasion, I observed:
Why do I drink? I drink beer because I like how it tastes; I like how it makes me feel. Gustation and psychotropics. Pleasure. That, just that, is why I drink beer. All else is froth. I'll have another, please.
- For more from YFGF: