Beer and Pavement

Some Ideas that Were Lost

Posted in Life, Uncategorized by Zac on August 16, 2012

I was rather absent from this blog a few weeks back. I hope to make amends for this egregious error in presence over the coming days and weeks. I did well last week to post five times. So far, this week has been more of the same.

The funny thing was that during my brief hiatus, I tried to write several times. However, I just couldn’t muster the ideas or time to finish my thinking. Below are snippets from a few of those lost posts…

Mail-Order Happiness

I actually didn’t write a thing for this post. I just remember sitting around, waiting for a shipment from LetsPour after receiving several packages from Insound. When one lives in a smallish city, two hours from any major (or mid-sized) city, mail and UPS often provide a respite from small-town drudgery. I may still write this post as I get at least one Insound shipment every-other week and am always contemplating another order from LetsPour.

[untitled]I thought for sure I published this, but a quick search of my archives suggests otherwise. Here’s what I had…

No, this isn’t about the nostalgia drummed up by Pitchfork TV’s documentary about Modest Mouse’s 1997 album The Lonesome Crowded West. Rather this is a bit o’ nostalgia over the West Coast IPA, the style of beer arguably most responsible for starting this whole American craft beer boom than any other. IPA’s alone are quickly taking the place of pale ales and lagers as craft brewery flagship beers, but the West Coast IPA set the standard. It took me a while to come back to these beers. Before “getting into craft beer”, I was drinking quite a few IPA’s. Then, I discovered the DIPA/Imperial IPA and I was blown away. Boundaries were pushed. If a beer wasn’t approaching double-digits in ABV and triple digits in IBU’s, it didn’t interest me. From there it was sours, imperial stouts, numerous Belgian styles, and so on. The more “extreme” the better. Somehow the unbalanced West Coast IPA was too ordinary, almost a session beer. Then, Missouri saw an influx of West Coast breweries enter the state. Lagunitas, Stone, Green Flash, Deschutes, Caldera, etc. all came to the Show-Me state with IPA’s in tow. So, our shelves and taps…

Summer Melts Pretentiousness Away

Something happens every summer where all the normal stresses are lifted. The world feels fresh and new again. Of course, having worked in education for 15 years means that summer is vacation time or at least a slower work time. Still, the summer seems to melt away all those things we are typically preoccupied with that don’t really matter.

Beer and rock ‘n roll are two of those things that lose a lot of pretentiousness when warmer weather rolls around. Beer somehow becomes lighter and colder, often consumed straight from the can or bottle. Rock music becomes less complex and…

Explaining I Have to Do

There are good reasons for my absence. – That’s where it ended.

Imperialist Pale Ale

The legend of the IPA has been told and retold and corrected and told again. So, I won’t go there. Instead, I’ll write a bit about a favorite beer and a nice meal prepared by a friend.

I mention imperialism in the title ’cause it’s on my mind. I posted this link making fun of British athletic prowess or, more specifically, their lack of athletic prowess. I directed the jab at some British friends who quickly came to the Queen’s jocks’ defense, but I countered by pointing out their imperialist history. Long story short, the thread fizzled from there.

I digress.

This evening, our friend Srirupa prepared a wonderful Indian feast for us. I chose to pair the meal with…well, what else? An India Pale Ale. – I honestly can’t remember which IPA I had that night.

Pucker Up

My beer club met Sunday afternoon to sample some lambics, sours, and a few fruit beers. I can only assume the inclusion of “fruit beers” was to give our tongues a break and to hopefully not scare away those who feel intimidated by sour beer.

I’ve Got Style, Miles and Miles

So much style that it’s wasted.

A nice discussion happened on Twitter and was picked up at A Good Beer Blog over style and whether or not it even matters. It seems the limitations of textbook style can be frustrating. Either we’re disregarding entire collections of beers that don’t match our own style preferences or we’re left with beers we don’t know what to do with because it doesn’t fit a particular style. Either way, style can be limiting.

Beer styles are like musical genres. They are both based on key characteristics that make it easy to categorize a beer or band, respectively. However, beer and music rarely stick to prescribed style and genre guidelines. You pigeonhole something so that you either limit its uses or never even give it a try in the first place.

There’s one thing we should all remember in the instance where style or genre stops all thinking: Constructs were built to be torn down.

That’s not to say that style doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s a neat compartment which one can place a beer. It’s shorthand for describing what you like (or dislike). Genre does the same for music…

So, what do you think? Are any of these worth revisiting?

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4 Responses

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  1. sandystreams said, on August 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Cheers to you I say, raising my glass of Pale Ale!

  2. Bill said, on August 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Re: styles– From a consumer perspective, if I want to have a porter, it is helpful if the label or menu or taphandle says “porter.” If I want to have a dubbel, it is helpful if the label or menu or taphandle says “dubbel.” If I don’t wish to have an intentionally-soured beer, it is helpful if the label or menu or taphandle mentions that the beer is a lambic/gueze/has been dosed with whatever.* If the beer has been aged in/on wood, or contains peppers, or contains fruit or coffee, or uses juniper instead of hops, disclosing this is better than not disclosing it. Managing your potential customer’s expectations isn’t a bad thing. No one other than beer judges need the hundreds of “styles” out there, but it is helpful to have terms that divvy the world of beer into certain taste categories, so that people can explore with some sort of a map, and can later find things to their liking once they’ve developed likes and dislikes. Folks can argue over how much Michael Jackson brought back/described/invented “styles,” but the ones he described are a fantastic guide to the beginner. And then the folks that brew away from style can put descriptors on their beer so that people can explore further or don’t return to something they already know they’re not likely to enjoy.

    *I’m mentally shaking my fist at Petrus Pale Ale with this one.

    • Zac said, on August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      I agree. It’s good for a quick reference point. I’m not totally against styles, but sometimes there are beers that defy style and we should not discount a beer because of style alone. I really liked the menu I encountered at the Church Key in DC. It was divided by flavors as opposed to styles. There was sweet, sour, bitter, and a host of other flavor profiles. Granted, some styles dominated certain sections, but there were some surprises.


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