Beer and Pavement

10 Things I Believe About Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement

Posted in Intersections, Manifesto by SM on April 6, 2011

This is a first draft, meaning that I haven’t had time to clean up some wording, include specific examples, or throw in a bunch of useless footnotes. I just didn’t have time to give this the proper treatment and still insure a post for Wednesday. However, all is not lost. Look over my list and tell me where I need to beef it up with examples and footnotes. Tell me where there are holes in my beliefs, or at least the way in which I’m expressing said beliefs. Also, any suggestions for an image would be appreciated. I have an idea to do something with the Ten Commandments, but I haven’t found the right image to doctor.

As part of my manifesto, here are ten core beliefs I hold in regards to building coalitions of international standing through the consumption of craft and homebrewed beer and records, lots and lots of records. These beliefs are opinions I have as to the eternal connection between beer and indie rock. Bookmark this page and adopt these beliefs as your ten commandments.

10. Craft beer and indie rock appreciate each other, but it ends there. This has to change. Beer nerds appreciate indie rock and may very well own some indie CD’s or attend an indie rock show now and again. Likewise, indie geeks splurge and order a good beer instead of opting for some PBR. Instead, what these two groups should be doing is embracing the interests of the other. Craft beer and indie rock are the equivalents of their respective industries. They are the small operations that keep DIY, locally-produced, and craft alive. That and both are meant for discerning tastes and not the mainstream. It seems craft beer and indie rock are a match made in heaven.

9. Even if you didn’t do it yourself, DIY is always the best way to go. Most craft brewers started out as homebrewers. Most indie rockers taught themselves how to play, record, or promote themselves. Both have created consumables we love in their garages and bedrooms. I try to do what I can for myself, but the next best thing are those who practice a DIY ethic or started out that way.

8. Beer and music are meant to be paired. What pairs better with a layered, complex, thought-provoking record than a layered, complex, thought-provoking social lubricant? Beer and good music have the power to make us dance and should be practiced together.

7. On the internet, beer and music sites are only outnumbered by porn, politics, and cats. Seriously. My Google Reader is loaded with over 100 feeds from the blogs about music or beer. There’s actually more beer blogs than music. I get tired of reading critics masturbate over music and beer blogs just give more useful information in the form of beer releases and reviews. Either way, the internet is primarily loaded with dude material and nothing’s more dude than beer and indie rock.

6. Beer and Pavement are healthy obsessions with many good lessons to teach us. Craft beer teaches us that the American dream is still alive. Pavement taught us that it’s best to do your best work, call it quits, and then get back together for one more go before calling it quits again. Plus, these obsessions help one enjoy life to its fullest without losing perspective. I’ve gone to many lengths to obtain craft beer and to see Pavement play live, but in the end, it really comes down to the enjoyment of the moment. I smiled watching Pavement reunite last summer. Similarly, I can enjoy every sniff and taste of a great DIPA.

5. Labels are like breweries. Bands are individual beers. Genres are the same as beer styles. There is a taxonomy for both that align rather nicely. There is nothing I enjoy more than waiting for the next batch of Maharaja or the latest record by the Walkmen. Each release reveals something new about an old favorite. These taxonomies make it easy to place labels, breweries, genres, styles, bands, and beers in context. I like taxonomies, especially those that parallel one another.

4. Bigger is better, but not when corporations are involved. When brewers and bands push the limits, the result is almost always better. Now, “better” might not mean that the beer actually tastes better than more conventional brews. It might not mean that a record sounds better than a band’s last effort. What “better” means in this instance is that the results are discussion-worthy. A beer or record that is big is full of ingredients and is produced under unique circumstances. Sam Calagione chews on corn and spits into the beer. The Walkmen spend a weekend recreating Harry Nilsson and John Lennon’s Pussycats. These are some big, ambitious projects that either turn out good or at the very least interesting. The only time that such ambition to do things bigger in either music or beer is when a corporation is involved. Creativity is thrown out in favor of efficiency. Bigger also means quite literally that they produce more crap in a shorter amount of time. Bigger does not always translate that way for indie labels and craft breweries.

3. Friendships are based on or can be destroyed through beer and music. This isn’t usually an intense relationship based on personal preference, but acquaintances evolve into strong friendships over a shared admiration of a fine imperial stout or on a roadtrip to see a band for the first time. Conversely, friendships fade when you choose the saison and your buddy chooses the Bud Lime or when you want to listen to some Neutral Milk Hotel and he wants Limp Bizkit. These preferences do not make or break friendships completely, but they come close.

2. Beer and music are at their best when it’s all about the craft. Regardless of your taste, we can all appreciate a well-crafted product. We might not always go for craft, but we can see the value in it. Some of us are willing to pay for that craft when it’s in the form of beer. Where indie rock is concerned, we’re willing to search it out. Interestingly, the cheapest and easiest to find beers and music are not often high on craftsmanship.

1. Beer and music is something about which we can talk. Craft beer and indie rock are the best for discussion. The hours I have spent discussing the value of that man snoring in the background of a Guided by Voices song or the times at a bar I’ve spent identifying flavors in a beer are some of the best memories I own (aside from those involving my partner and daughter, of course). Obviously, I really believe in this or I wouldn’t dedicate an entire blog to the topics and where they intersect.

Those are ten things I believe about beer and music. Is there anything I should add? What would your list look like for these topics or two subjects of your choosing? As always, leave a comment or link back from your own blog.

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16 Responses

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  1. Steve said, on April 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I like it, and look forward to future drafts!

    I think there is something to be teased out about how craft beer and indie rock can work closer together on a more practical level. I’ve seen a little evidence of this, but I’d love to see local brewers on display at local gigs and music festivals (at least where venues would permit this). I guess the flipside is beer festival organisers booking interesting bands as entertainment, or brewers offering listening suggestions, or sponsoring compilations.

    Anyway, that’s probably enough braindumping for now, but I’ll keep thinking…

    • builderofcoalitions said, on April 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

      I completely agree. It’s been interesting to see more craft-like offerings at large, outdoor concert venues. Of course, this is usually due to the fact that AB-InBev are slowly buying up all the craft breweries. Small clubs are hit and miss, but I feel lucky that our clubs in Columbia tend to reserve at least a few taps for some craft breweries. Brewers tend to book smaller acts for their fests, but whether the music is quality or inherently independent is up for debate. I know Three Floyds brings in bands for their Dark Lord Day and Ska often books…well…ska bands, but I’m not sure craft brewers are completely in-tune with indie rock.

      I will always remember that the Pavement bio included a rider from one of their tours. In the rider, among many other typical requests, Pavement asked for a sixer or two of a local microbrew. This proves the connection between Pavement and craft beer. It might not be a strong connection, but it’s a connection nonetheless.

  2. Pizza Cottontail said, on April 6, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I like it. Will future drafts be new posts, or will the editing take place here?

    As far as which points to flesh out, I’d like to see some more focus on why it’s important. I agree that craft beer and indie rock are similar, sure, but similarities don’t necessarily make a good match. (I’d argue that most religions have similar beliefs and moral codes but that doesn’t stop them from hating each other.) Why is it important that craft beer lovers listen to the Walkmen at a tasting? Why should a Walkmen fan pick up a Modus Hoperandi at a show instead of a PBR? Is it possible to enjoy one without the other? If both are made for different types of discerning tastes, can you hold it against a Matador fan who doesn’t understand the appeal of a DIPA?

    I’d also recommend delving a little deeper into the idea of keeping corporations away from both. For every DIY band who does things the “right way,” we could come up with counterarguments from major labels who continue to put out quality music. It’s too soon to say whether Goose Island’s acquisition by Budweiser will result in a lower quality tasting beer. If the quality is roughly the same, is there anything wrong with increased distribution?

    • builderofcoalitions said, on April 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

      All good points. Thanks! That’s the kind of editorial help for which I’m looking.

      I plan to revise and repost. So, this will develop into multiple posts, stemming from this original framework. Let me see if I can address your questions, more for the revision process than to satisfy your curiosity. Feel free to respond further.

      I think the merging of indie rock and craft beer is important because these are two interests that have similar values and intents. Plus, the corporate versions of both are the enemy. There’s more to it than that, but your point is taken and will deserve more thought on my part.

      A separate issues is why it’s important for the consumer to focus energies and money on indie and craft industries. Besides the “corporations are all evil” argument, we have to consider keeping craftsmanship and quality alive. Craft beer and indie rock are two of the most sustainable industries we have. They control growth to insure there’s enough profit for everyone to live on. This is a deeper issue to be developed.

      I don’t mean to knock all corporate examples. I think examples like Built To Spill or Sonic Youth making corporate money work for them are excellent models for a brewery like Goose Island. The trouble is that corporate beer buying up craft brewers is in its infancy. The only examples (Blue Moon, Redhook, etc.) have failed miserably. They’re the Replacements of craft beer. There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of corporate assets. The trouble arises when independence is given up for unsustainable profit.

      • Pizza Cottontail said, on April 6, 2011 at 9:53 am

        Good points. I think the focus on craftsmanship and quality are strong arguments. I hadn’t tasted Blue Moon or Redhook before their acquisitions, but I can see how corporations aren’t going to break into the craft beer market too easily…part of the joy of craft beer, it seems, stems from experimentation which can result in something amazing, a terrible failure, or something in between. Corporations aren’t going to want to risk putting out something so untested, with such a strong downside.

        The Replacements put out some decent music on major labels. Nothing in their catalog’s as good as the independent “Let It Be,” but almost every album they put out has its merits. (“Tim,” what I think is their next-to-best album, was a major label release.)

      • builderofcoalitions said, on April 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

        I honestly don’t know much about Blue Moon before they were purchased by Coors, but I suspect the quality hasn’t improved much, if at all. Redhook was a promising brewery, but they’ve made more changes to their packaging than they have their lineup of beers since begin bought out.

        I don’t mean to pick on the Replacements. Honestly, their failures were more of the corporate variety and not the artistic side. That was just the first band that came to mind. I also think their downfall had more to do with timing than anything. Their core fans were not ready to support a major label band, suspecting the band would lose their edge. The mainstream wasn’t ready to eat what the label was feeding them. This is where Sonic Youth not being pushed as a mainstream act worked to their advantage.

      • jeffmenter said, on April 7, 2011 at 8:47 am

        “I honestly don’t know much about Blue Moon before they were purchased by Coors…”

        It sounds like they were always involved with Coors in some way:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Moon_(beer)

        “Originally called Bellyslide Belgian White, it was created by Keith Villa, a brewer at Coors Field’s Sandlot Brewery (the onsite brewery owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company).”

      • builderofcoalitions said, on April 7, 2011 at 8:49 am

        Interesting. Somehow, I thought I had always heard it was a microbrewery before Coors bought it out. It goes to show what good marketing can do.

  3. Kristen said, on April 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Love the post. I realized something while I was reading, though. You know I love indie rock and you know I appreciate good beer. I realized, though, that when I go to shows I actually pick pretty generic beers — because at most of my venues here, that’s all I can get — like an afterthought. It’s more of just part of the experience. I drink it without realizing what I’m drinking, and it’s more just to be holding the bottle or glass in hand while I bob to the music. I think it might be a security blanket of sorts.

    However, when I go out to bars or dinner..or sitting at home, I seek out new/exciting/different..and GOOD quality beers. I focus on the beer & appreciate it. Whereas, at the concert I’m appreciating the music. At home listening to music & drinking great craft beer is an awesome experience, so I don’t know why I don’t merge the two at an actual live music event. Perhaps it’s just the selection available; perhaps I subconsciously prefer to keep the two experiences separate to more fully enjoy each. I really don’t know.

    You got me thunkin’… 😉

    • builderofcoalitions said, on April 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      Uh-oh. You’re thinking?

      Yeah, that’s something I wanted to mention but sort of forgot. I really want people to be more mindful and in the moment. Of course, in relation to this blog, that has mostly to do with merging indie rock and craft beer, but it has other applications.

      I either hope that clubs are serving good beer or I am sure to drink something at home or at a good bar before hitting a show. Still, I understand the security blanket argument and have done the same thing many times.

  4. Pizza Cottontail said, on April 7, 2011 at 10:49 am

    As I was typing up today’s post about boring and stupid sobriety, I got to thinking: does your coalition manifesto leave room for non-drinkers? I see four types of nondrinkers: the underage, the recovering binger, the morally opposed, and the constitutionally disinclined. Since even one beer seems to crash my seratonin and/or make the day after a hangover nightmare, I put myself in the latter category. Still, I align myself politically with the drinking class and I can appreciate people who appreciate brewing craft. Does the manifesto leave room for others?

    Also, is this the beginning of an outline for a book? I got that impression but forgot to ask yesterday.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on April 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

      I suspected this would come up eventually with all the talk of your sobriety. I think there is room for those who don’t drink. The focus is really on craft and sustainable industries. We can all get behind that. I just tend to focus on indie rock and craft beer, because that’s where my interest lies.

      That said, I also think true craft beer enthusiasts present a sensible model for drinking. For one, we drink for the enjoyment of the beer and not to get drunk. Sure, drunkenness happens, but it’s much easier to avoid when you’re drinking one beer that fills you up or sharing a beer with a friend. Plus, the cost associated with craft beer doesn’t really allow for binge drinking. Craft beer enthusiasts stay in the moment when drinking beer, discussing flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, and appearance. It’s never about how many beers we consume in an evening. So, if sobriety is not a long-term goal, I would suggest that you get into beer geekery.

      Is this an outline for a book? Maybe. That was not my intention with this post. However, when I first started this blog, there were thoughts of writing a book. Maybe if this list and accompanying manifesto take off, you’ll see me establish a Kickstarter account or something.

      • Pizza Cottontail said, on April 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm

        With little else to think about during today’s marathon workout, I’ve come up with an outline to a response to this blog post. It warrants more than one comment, and maybe more than one blog post. Look for anywhere from one huge post to four or five little posts next week at Double Word Score. It’s not a criticism of your tenets but a response–sort of an alternate set of tenets for your consideration.

      • builderofcoalitions said, on April 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        Alternative? Are you talking mostly in regards to the beer stuff or will this include the music aspect as well?

      • Pizza Cottontail said, on April 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

        I’ll include both.

  5. […] Manifesto by builderofcoalitions on April 15, 2011 As part of my manifesto, here are ten core beliefs I hold in regards to building coalitions of international standing through the consumption of craft […]


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