So. It’s not quite Sunday, and these posts don’t even remotely form any kind of pattern in time. Such is life, I suppose. Productivity goes all over the place when you get a) really busy, then b) a complete break from being busy at all. Drifting slowly closer to Normality once again — strictly in the timetable-statistics sense, mind you — I’m inclined to have another go at beneficial-habit-forming.1 And besides, just as your holidays are not everyone’s holidays,2 your Day Of Rest — and thereby your catch-up-on-reading-stuff time — isn’t necessarily a Sunday according to the calendar. (Apparently, University mostly taught me how to rationalise missed deadlines.)3
Anyway, I was privileged enough to have a decent-length summer holiday in which I caught up on a metric butt-tonne of (non-beer-related) reading. And so now, in the interests both of spreading the love and of assisting in everyone’s valuable procrastination, here follows an eclectic collection of (beer-related) Things To Read I’ve stumbled upon recently. Enjoy!
- Beer money: Stu McKinlay — Yeastie Boy and friend of the show — recently wrote a wonderful piece for the local paper’s beer blog, breaking down the cost of his products. It’s a nice antidote to the all-too-frequent whinge about the price of a pint when beer is actually the most ludicrously value-for-money luxury consumption good I can think of. Stu and I agree completely about that,4 and his before-the-beer-goes-in breakdown of costs is a large part of his rejoinder to my complaints of origin-fudging in labelling.5 (He’s also bang on with his own recommended reading / inspiration at the end, there.)
- BrewDog burglary: Despite the above-mentioned affordability of beer, it seems we’ve “matured” (which almost certainly isn’t the right word) where apparent thefts-to-order of particular bottles are now occurring. Naturally, I’m obligated to wonder if they perhaps orchestrated the heist themselves, just for the headlines. Given other antics, you couldn’t really put it past them, any more… The perils of stunt marketing, I suppose.
- The Sub: The website for Heineken(etc.)’s in-fridge keg system, similar to Lion’s ‘Tap King’ which recently debuted in Australia. It’ll be interesting to see how these things pan out in the wild, but for now just look at the wank with which it’s presented. Yeesh. And for next, let’s wonder about whether some cleverness and some 3D-printed parts might make them universalisable for dispensing flagons of better beer… (Thanks, of a sort, to Luke — who has recently joined the Podcasters’ Guild — for the link.)
- Proper history: Brewery History, the journal of the (UK) Brewery History Society, operates a neat model whereby the full text of issues becomes freely available once the content hits its second birthday. The most-recent to be so revealed is their special edition dedicated to the life and work of Michael Jackson (you know, the other one), and it looks like a cracker. I’m ordering a printed copy, after just scratching the surface of the text online. (Massive thanks to Kieran for the pointer.)
- Probably somewhat revisionist history: The McCashin’s Story is out, and I’m yet to grab / find / borrow a copy for a proper read — but colour me skeptical. The surtitle is transparent nonsense, whatever your personal definition of “craft”, and the smell of myth-making is strong — compounded by the (very gentle) interview Terry McCashin had on Radio New Zealand. Theirs is only a “David & Goliath” story if David later entered into an, er, money-for-physical-company arrangement with the giant. So to speak. They talk up an “#8 wire mentality” after buying an existing brewery, they deride beers ‘notable only for what they lacked’ while peddling Reinheitsgebotty nonsense, and credit themselves with giving Lion its first “lager with legs” presumably never having stumbled upon Steinlager. (That said, I did enjoy two of their ‘Recognition Series’ beers while writing this up — and re-watching Harry Potter.)6
- Local reportage: A perfectly nice write-up — of my de facto new ‘local’ and its environs — by profoundly hit-and-miss critic David Burton, which slips into oddness when it insists that the area has a nickname it’s never had.7 Best anyone can tell, it was suggested once, in sarcastic jest, on Twitter, and hasn’t ever been used earnestly. A timely reminder that you should always be wary, when reading reviews from abroad: too many writers just can’t help themselves from making up little details to make them seem down with the kids. There’s a need for a general raising of the collective eyebrow given the quality of some stuff out there, and I’ve been meaning to get into that for a while — he says, casting a sideways glance his copies of the industry rag DrinksBiz.
- Dry January, defended: I couldn’t be more on Pete Brown’s side on this, even though I don’t share in his yearly ritual (or anything like it). I’ve struck my own balance with the chemical realities of beer and the many ways it’s involved in my life — and no longer working nights in a bar and becoming a daily commuter cyclist have definitely helped — and do think it’s important that everyone find their own way to do the same, and to keep checking in with themselves whether its working. Just don’t dismiss people who do things differently; they each might find different balances and particular patterns that work. In extremis, they might give it up entirely. And on that, read this incredibly brave piece by Jackson Wood and — as always — don’t be a dick.
- And finally, an irrelevancy. Because you really should consider re-watching and/or re-reading Harry — not just because Neville Longbottom is super bad-ass.
1: As much of our civilisation attempts to do, each January. I’m always torn between wanting to join in the hoots of derision for the cycles of failure that most New Year’s Resolutions orbit within, and having to admit that it is indeed an excellent time of year for clean-outs and rearrangements both external and internal. ↑
2: As a long-serving hospitality worker, I really hope everyone does remember to keep this in mind, each year. But you, dear readers, are Civilised Folk and treat service staff properly at all times, right? Excellent. ↑
3: Lines from the much-mourned Douglas keep coming to mind, lately: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” and “I love deadlines. I like the wooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ↑
4: And rambled about it together in a piece recorded recently for Radio New Zealand, which will hopefully find its way to air (and online) soon. ↑
5: Which we didn’t get to on the podcast, but will have to revisit properly one day. ↑
6: Your Mileage May Vary, as always, but particularly so here because a) I’m genetically near-immune to the diacetyl fault, and b) Em described the Double Pale Ale — which, as Fritz & Maria rightly point out in the above link, is entirely wrongly named — as “nicely buttery”. ↑
7: It also nicely proved the need for Stu’s Beer Money piece, when the first comment it attracted was a whinge about $10 beers. ↑