Each week, Tony Budny pens SCREAMING INTO THE VOID and looks at the best in writing and social media conversation around the biggest issues in beer. If you feel something should be included, have a tip, or just want to sound off, feel free to look him up on Twitter @DrinksTheThings or email DCBeer.
Well, here I am, your humble beer writer, coming to you today after…a week. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: unless you were the most ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, you likely found something in the first week of his presidency that upset you. Some friends of mine who routinely voted Republican attended protests this weekend. Some who are inclined further left of them felt like they were on a nine-day-long trek into the Event Horizon of a powerful black hole where each of your cells are stretched to oblivion.
Initially, when I set out to write this wrap-up, I intended it to be generally politics free, that is, to not allow anything political to dominate the discussion. But things have changed. There has been an ongoing discussion about politics in beer this week. From Good Beer Hunting making a stand they will be vocal about their particular views to Bryan Roth making competing cases as to why that can be good or bad for business. To investors backing out of a Sacramento brewery after an owner attacked the Women's March and the seemingly endless array of offensive, crude beer labels. To lagging sales of Yuengling post-Trump support. And changing regulations. So many changing regulations.
Beer, in essence, is politics, from start to finish. From who you support and how you support them to how you conduct your business, there are constant moments in which breweries must assess their own standing within their communities. And with more breweries now than in the history of the country, the chances that a brewery will bump up against opposition to something increases by the day. Here, read the science on it, with a hat tip to Beervana.
So how do you navigate an endless minefield? You could keep quiet about everything, but that is as much a statement of politics as is being loud and proud about a particular subject. You could become risk-averse in marketing, but you risk failing to stand out in an ever-crowded square (though, in the opinion of this bloggity blog blogger, being clever and generally inoffensive isn’t as difficult as it's made out to be).
So, you do as you have to. Know your audience, but know that in a marketplace that values authenticity above other intangibles, if you fail to express support or derision over something it will likely hurt your brand. So, you might as well have the courage to speak up and speak out in the most appropriate way possible. It may be the biggest risk/reward gamble you can make as a brand. You are, as a brewer, part of your community, in some cases whether you like it or not. Make it count. And lord, don’t issue a non-apology after your community gets after you. You might as well just own it in that case. After all, the beer aisle has become a record store.
Now, contemplate this pitcher of flavor as we move on to other things.
Wait wait, that wasn’t a long enough interlude from that essay. Here, watch one of the prettiest shots I've ever seen.
The National Museum of American History has hired a brewing historian, Theresa McCulla, who has bonafides that include a PhD in American Studies from Harvard and a culinary degree. You may have heard about this position if you had any knowledge of beer whatsoever and your friends sent it to you. Too bad none of you suckers ever had a chance, considering her resume’.
Here is a list of the 25 most important American craft beers ever brewed. It’s a list, so feel free to be mad online about it. Also, you you might want to check on that case of the #1 beer you have sitting around.
Say goodbye to bitter, old-school IPAs, Beervana says.
Oskar Blues has announced its own priority membership reserve society, in a trend I only see as increasing both in number and scope from here forward. Stock up on those vintage and reserve bottles from your favorite brewery now, you never know when they might get paywalled.
I'll bet you like Brettanomyces. Here is some pretty serious scientific analysis on what exactly that yeast is and what it does to beer.
Wild-fermented ciders are looking to get a piece of the sour beer pie.
Like peanut butter? Well, here are eight beers to drink that have that ingredient. Hate peanut butter? Well, go away. Allergic to peanut butter? I’m very sorry.
Finally, I still don’t know why people drink beer in the shower, but here's an ode to the practice anyway. I don’t know, I guess I might as well try this since the world is going to end soon enough or something.
Stay tuned for next week(ish) when your humble Void writer attempts to get back on some sort of decent schedule for this wrap. As always, thanks for reading.