Attempt to start a new weekly tradition, miss your self-imposed deadline for just its second incarnation. That does sound a lot like a ‘me’ thing to do. But in my defence, it was my birthday. Well, my birthday weekend — I took liberties with the calendar when the realities of work broke my usual Take The Day Off commandment; fair’s fair. It was a marvellous weekend, though: beginning in earnest on the Thursday with the Michael Jackson Memorial beer tasting at Regional, shambling through a few nice pubs on Friday night, baking (or at least vaguely helping-to-bake) a Coopers-Stout-fortified chocolate cake on Saturday, watching some fantastic roller derby with a belly full of (good!) beer I’d daringly drunk from a can while biking along the waterfront to get there, then mooching at Hashigo with my ears full of superawesome jazz drumming, braving Sunday morning for the sake of the markets, babysitting a mercifully-quiet brewery shop before kicking some serious arse at trivia with friends (and nachos and beer).
But enough gloating — and, seriously, may all your birthdays be similarly Your Kind Of Thing — it’s (past) time to share my recommended reads for your downtime — on whatever day it falls this week.
- Anything by Michael Jackson. Obvious, but mandatory. I shamefully realised that I don’t actually have my own copy of any of his seminal beer books, despite years of using his Malt Whisky Companion as a reference (I was a whisky nerd before I was a beer one). I’ll soon remedy that. During Thursday’s tasting, Geoff read great passages from MJ’s work, and showed clips from the recent Beer Hunter movie, which all reinforced what a terrific chap he was and how much he helped shape and document the beer business. He’s a member of my own internal pantheon of Authors Gone Too Soon —together with Douglas Adams and Iain (±M.) Banks.
- A (vague) summary of the ‘Brothers Banks’. In charmingly rambling and kind-of beer-clouded Gonzo style, Dylan takes a stab at answering the question that popped into 95% of brains at the Brewers Guild awards: who won the Morton Coutts trophy?
- A meta piece on the undying “craft beer” debate, from a brewer making the simple point that the term obviously means something, and sometimes that’s enough.
- The Thirsty Boys on why they haiku. Mostly I’m just happy that they do, so ably documenting the Beer Geek Church that is Hashigo on a Tuesday — which has sadly become less a part of my own weekly routine. I do confess to hoping that the post itself would be in haiku, though, big fan of recursion that I am.
- Beer Cycling in Belgium, an envy-inducing post-holiday ramble from Luke which (especially after more than a few Belgian beers in the MJ Memorial tasting) has me determined to start a specific Holiday Fund.
- A piece on cider versus “cider”, which needs a great-deal more name-and-shame, though I’m not qualified to engage in such — if anyone can prod Kieran Haslett-Moore into ranting out a local version of Pete Brown’s recent piece, that’d be great.
- Martyn Cornell in reportage mode (rather than in his mythbusting historian hat) on the emerging Two Cultures of (UK) beer festivals, something that’s been on my mind since Matariki / Beervana. Though, while I’m a big fan of (mass) observation, what I really want is data; I must try and get some real sampling going.
- The Wonderbrewer of Nowheresville, a really nice long-form piece on the brewer from Hill Farmstead, the ludicrously high-scoring Vermont brewery which can’t help but put you in mind of the Emperor’s New Clothes effect and superdeadkeen to try their beers for yourself. Massive thanks to aimee whitcroft for the link, because the rest of the week’s articles — and the ‘magazine’ in general — looks like it’s got plenty of other goodies to be going along with.
- And finally, an irrelevancy, because the world needs more good books just like it needs more good beers — and you can judge a person by how they consume both.