Birthday Reading

Little Creatures IPA, and its older Pale Ale sibling
Little Creatures IPA, and its older Pale Ale sibling

My recent little trip to Sydney was a marvellously-restoring one, but also did a fine job of further-breaking my already-fragile relationship with the “working week” as traditionally understood, in the process dealing another knock to my ongoing efforts to habituate myself into my Sunday Reading project. The holiday also coincidentally contained a changing of the Beer Diary guard, with the second notebook filling up and finally giving way to its waiting successor — the first entry for which was the rather-suitable and rather-lovely new Little Creatures IPA pictured right there. Given that this site was originally born in the transition from Diary I to Diary II, I’ve prodded myself into a little housekeeping and tinkering since I got home: I’ve freshened up the ‘About’ pages, properly enabled the email subscription system, and (probably most usefully) finally found and activated the mobile-friendly version for those of you reading on your cleverphones. If there’s anything else that needs adjusting, in ease-of-use terms and whatnot, let me know.

Meanwhile, in the course of said tinkering, I noticed that I’ve missed my own ‘birthday’, of sorts. The first post here — a surprisingly brief Hello world referencing a peculiar and now-abandoned post-dating scheme — was on 26 September 2010, so apparently I’ve been at this for three years. Lawks. Given the superawesomeness of the weekend’s shinding, and the zine which helped kick off my still-limping-along Reading ‘tradition’, I should have more to say on the subject of beery birthdays soon, but for now there’s all this:

  • An ode to the interrobang. I was pleased to see my beloved little punctuation mark get a bit of press recently. It’s been my little icon here, on the Twitters, and elsewhere from the start, and is definitely worth knowing. That it was born in the Mad Men-esque Golden Age of Madison Avenue is all the more appropriate, given how often what the fuck‽-esque outbursts are occasioned by the sad Don Draper wannabes at Moa.
  • Graphing the rise of “craft beer”; literally, as a phrase. I’m always interested in the evolution of language in a given field, and even though it’s North-American-centric, it’s a great little initial exploration of the increased traceability of words in the modern, heavily-gadgeted age. Martyn Cornell first blew my mind with the idea that “beer style” — as a notion, a phrase, as the go-to way for organising the industry — is younger than I am, and entirely the invention of one man. (One legendary chap, but still.)
  • The perpetuation of nonsense, despite the existence of myth-busting history (speaking, again, of Martyn Cornell). It’s sad to see that the rapidly-revising “new history” of beer isn’t being more-readily assimilated. I guess there’s always a lot of inertia to push against: taxonomy is hard, history is hard, and language is always evolving — see especially, there, the confusion that results if you don’t know that “stale” didn’t always carry negative connotations.
  • The Cask Report, which also necessitates a third link in a row to Martyn Cornell. It’s almost all good news in there, but the insight into the tension between publicans and drinkers when it comes to just how frequently a beer lineup would ideally change is worth some further pondering; sometimes I do wonder if switching products every keg turnover really is desirable…
  • Pretentious Beer Glasses, for if you need to one-up your friends and colleagues who are busy fawning over that trendy Spiegelau IPA thing. George sent me a link to the P.B.G.C. hoping for a rant, but I think they’re awesome; sufficiently self-aware, genuinely clever, and apparently well-made. (As for the Spiegelaus, I finally caved and got a pair for myself and am slowly coming to the conclusion that they are both pretty cool and pretty silly, much like Tuatara’s new reptilian bottle.)
  • A pondering on intent and “craft”, which — with “philosophy” and “craft beer” right there in the title — seems to be right in my wheelhouse; I’ll have to track down the article itself. I suspect that something like this is the only hope for a “definition”, though it’s always an open question whether we need or want one of those, anyway. (But you can forever rely on philosophers to try and build you a good one, just in case.)
  • Meanwhile, on the other Beer Diary, they’re gearing up for Season 2. Greg Zeschuk used to make videogames — that have accounted for hundreds of very enjoyable hours of my life — and now he makes very well-produced Beer TV; a thing we need more of, please. And on the other-other Beer Diary, Chris Hall wrote a love letter to the Cantillion brewery, as much as it visibly pained him to give anything unvarnished praise. Both Diarists are obviously kindred spirits of mine.
  • And finally, an irrelevancy, since a birthday is as good a time as any to remind yourself to think positively about the future, and since you should always pay attention to whatever Neal Stephenson is pondering at a given moment.


Have at it: