Occasionally punctual, sometimes off work for a month, almost never as funny as he thinks,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.
The Void is back. I hope you all had a spectacular holiday season with lots of beer and lots of revelry. I have been extremely offline with this column since mid-December. I understand many of you may be taking this month off from drinking. Perhaps that was unwise.
Drinking alcohol to avoid your fingers needing amputation, it's good.
But we need to talk about some serious issues. Avid readers of the Void know that I have joined in the growing chorus calling for more diversity and inclusiveness in beer. It’s a simple request, to stop the small but numerous, seemingly benign acts that alienate groups of people, like naming your beer Panty Dropper and saying you can’t possibly change it because it's so unique and special. This week, Good Beer Hunting published a long-form story on the private efforts to undermine public words to that regard, with a few breweries having fully public social media accounts showing images that portray brewery workers as little more than teenage fraternity members. Read it if you haven’t yet before moving on.
As businesses that have worked to develop a reputation as upstanding contributors to local economics, one might think these types of images would be antithetical to that end. But, in the opinion of many breweries, this is in fact an important part of the brand. And, judging from the backlash GBH has received from the piece, a part these businesses hold onto dearly. Far be it from this beer writer, who has brewed a single batch of beer in his life in his kitchen to tell these businesses how to operate. But, as the piece points out, beer sales have slowed industry wide, with local, smaller breweries picking up much of the slack, which means craft beer needs to reach out to other consumers to continue a solid growth trend. Undermining a brand by alienating wide swaths of consumers seems unwise, even for the sake of maintaining some air of authenticity. If authenticity means 30% of the people in a region would really enjoy sitting at your bar and having a beer there, perhaps a rethinking of the brand is in order.
But, as one Twitter user who apparently wrote a book on beer in Ann Arbor, Michigan said, apparently rethinking a brand to not be just for the boyz equates to “leftist politics” that will “fuck up craft beer.” I’m not sure where this gentlemen drinks beer in Ann Arbor, but where I do, I sit beside people that don’t look like me, drinking the same beverages. If there were more of those types of people, the welcoming, non-judgmental types in those same places, perhaps there would be more beer for all of us to go around. Craft beer has always valued being above big beer and no one used more sexist, racist marketing tactics than the biggest brands of old with the largest amount of resources to throw toward that endeavor. It’s time for craft to take up a new banner of increasing quality of everything surrounding their liquid as well.
OK. So we did that. Maybe we need a shower and a beer. I don’t do it, but maybe a shower beer. OK, maybe not that one. Maybe a better shower beer. For starters, DC Brau announced it would be releasing its first brewery-only release, a barrel-aged barleywine for your facehole in need. The weather outside is frightful, but the booze is so delightful. Here are your best beer events of the month. And here is some beer to look out for:
The Bruery store at Union Market is finally opening. Come one, come all for your imp stouts to cellar for 70 years.
Founders Breakfast Stout is now year-round. Can’t wait to drink this on my brithday before going outside and melting in late June heat.
It’s the new year, so I will spare you all of the top whatever of 2017 columns, except for the one that we wrote and the one that editor, contributor, and Void poster (hi Jake! *waves*) Jake wrote about beer and music.
Pabst is a fascinating beer company, as they are releasing another classic Ballatine beer in the midst of everything else they’re doing. And they’re not just releasing it in a name. It is 11.3% abv.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a comic about the times.