Sabbath Reading

Brewaucracy / 666 Brewing 'Devil in the Details'
‘Devil in the Details’ by Brewaucracy & 666 Brewing at PBE 2013 yesterday

I’ve been on a run of six-point-something-day work weeks, lately; some self-inflicted, some externally imposed. Still not a word of complaint, though — but equally few hacked out to put up here. And so a public holiday to the rescue, delivering a three-day weekend by way of a Day Of Rest in commemoration of a nice idea that’s forever been tricky to actually apply. With some a couple of alarm-free mornings,1 just the right amount of domestic productivity, and a lovely little beer festival, it was a cracker of a super-sized weekend and today has a very suitable Sunday feeling to it.

Which, naturally, puts me in mind of the ‘tradition’ I keep trying to make more traditional. And so, with all the best intentions to do this — as well as everything else — more often, I present for your perusal2 a few choice tidbits:3

    • A history of Canberra brewing. I have a real soft spot for Australia’s deeply-odd little capital — I lived there for a while and had truly formative Beer Geek Moments at the marvellous Wig & Pen — and was delighted to find an apparently-exhaustive history of the beer business in town. Visit the Wig while it lasts, and immediately check out whatever Richard Watkins gets up to next.
    • A sobering longer-view look at the history of American IPA — and of beer in general, while they’re at it. I’m not sure I entirely agree, but I’m much more there than not; we’ve been doing this for a long time, as a species, and it does sometimes pay to do a little internal check-sum on whether you’re losing proper sense of scale in time and place.
    • The effects of alcohol might not be quite what you think they are.4 Two years old, now, but this article was returned to my attention just when I was posting our liquor-law-freakout podcast ponderings. From my perspective as a former bartender, at least, it was summed up best by a friend and former colleague: no one is genuinely different when they’re drunk, they’re just more. If you’re a dick when you’ve had too much to drink, you might just actually be a dick.
    • An uncomfortably close satire of beer-bar offerings. The stout looks good.
    • This lauded (and recently revised) chart, which has (if you ask me) almost jumped the shark into an unreadable mess with its looping glassware-suggestion arcs and the largely-useless-for-non-Americans brand tokens for each type. Paging Ed Tufte. (But full marks for the lower-left’s Spaghetti Junction which consigns a few deserving candidates to being drunk from the can, 40oz, or Solo Cup.)
    • A much more sedate Brewer Portait than usual, enjoyable not just for his delightfully soothing travelling-Canadian accent. Nicely personal and engaging.
    • The (bloody-marvellous) Gruen Planet team talked beer, for the first major section of last week’s show. Interesting to see things from a marketer’s perspective; even though they’re not dogmatically pro-“craft”, they’re still anti-crap — whether the crap in question is outright lies, or just boringness. (They’ve also reminded me that I really, really want to hack the Tap King into a general-purpose flagon-dispensing gadget.)
    •,5 where you can learn — to use the word quite wrongly — that rice is an extravagantly expensive ingredient that other breweries don’t love you enough to us (and definitely not a cost-cutting blandifier), that “ageing” a beer can be measured in mere days (not silly old-fashioned months or years), and that Budweiser can still apparently say (with a straight face and without being fined and/or sued into oblivion) that “no other beer takes as long to make”.
    • And finally, an irrelevancy, because it’s nice to be reminded that the “new” things — be they comic books, videogames, digital art, or whatever — aren’t necessarily just vaguely-modified and somehow-weaker instances of “real” culture; they can be totally and amazingly themselves.

1: Sleeps-in, as I like to call them, ever the fan of a French-style front-loaded plural. On Saturday, my first un-buzz-assisted waking-up in weeks, I actually managed to have a surpassingly suitable song lodged in my brain the second I was conscious. 
2: In either the original sense of “to read with careful attention” or the more-modern usage of “to skim, hoping to vaguely extract the gist”; language evolves in wonderful, liberating and contradictory ways. 
3: Which admittedly do require a more expansive, cultural-studies-esque definition of “reading”, since two of them are videos, one is a (dis?)infographic, and one an interactive webmonstrosity. 
4: Or rather, given the mechanics of the Placebo Effect, they might be mostly exactly what you think they are. Thanks to Amy for the link — both times. 
5: Thanks, if that’s the right word, to Hadyn for the link. 

4 thoughts on “Sabbath Reading”

  1. The BBC link on the effects of alcohol made me think of this for some reason.

    The basic premise being, iirc, that you should occasionally get a a little drunk on your own so that you can separate the effects of sociality and alcohol when you’re out on the town. Not that I would suggest the Modern Drunkard as a source of sensible discussion regarding alcohol in any way shape or form.

    1. That’s a gorgeously-written little piece; thanks for that! I broadly agree with the sentiment (funnily-enough, as a rambler-on-the-internet, I’m often drinking alone as I write!), even though they do slightly fall into the trap of assuming more effects than might be proveable — and even though malign beer!

  2. Perhaps it’s ok to dehyphenate “check-sum”, most of us get it now, don’t we? (Though actually, now that I write it, I’m not sure whether I need to hyphenate, or, er “spacinate” my use of “dehyphenate” – so, I’m either a grammar-nazi or just a confused Beer Diary Citizen in need of English lessons: your choice. Damnit 🙂

    Either way, wonderful post, Phil – thanks for the links!

    1. I am a serial over-user of hyphens, for sure. I think I inherited my use of a (hyphenated) check-sum in the kind of good-mental-hygiene context above from the sadly-departed Iain [M.] Banks’ bloody-marvellously-head-bending book The Algebraist.

Have at it: