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What I’d like to read

The first Friday of each month brings together beer bloggers around a common topic under the banner of The Session. This month A Good Beer Blog hosts, asking “What beer book which has yet to be written would you like to see published?”:


What is the book you would want to write about good beer? What book would you want to read? Is there a dream team of authors your would want to see gathered to make that “World Encyclopedia of Beer and Brewing”? Or is there one person you would like to see on a life long generous pension to assure that the volumes flow from his or her pen?

At first I jumped to the historical side: after all, we’re reading Hops & Glory for our next book club, and Ethan in fact co-authored a book being released on the 12th. But, well. I like history. I have a degree in it! But none of the “history of beer and ___” topics really jumped out at me.

Then I remembered a few conversations I’ve had with Julia about various topics we wished we or someone else would write about. We actually had plans, back in the spring, to maybe start a longform beer journalism site, one where I could write about things as Dan and not as an owner of a brewery1. My confession: these books may exist. I don’t know! Someone may have written everything I’m asking for, and if so: great! Please let me know. I’d love to read them.

I would really like to see more written about beer, brewing and brewers as a force of positive social change. I read Fermenting Revolution a few years ago and, well, felt underwhelmed. We’ve discussed reading it for a future book club and I’d enjoy that, so I could give it a second chance, but beyond “drink local for environmental reasons” I don’t remember too much beyond general beer cheerleading.

People often ask us what we do to earn the “community” in our name2, and my answer generally comes in the form of an explanation of our spent grain donation and then mumbles about future plans. We sit on the board of the West Side Business and Taxpayer Association and try to act as civic oriented as we can, but right now we don’t have the financial ability to do as much as I’d like. We don’t have unpaid interns, at least: Drew and Robert did work “for experience” at first but then we made the call to maybe not exploit their labor. They don’t make much (though I think per hour they might actually make more than me, this not yet being my day job), but they do make something.

I’d like something to be written about labor practices in beer. I actually started writing that story back in April, being reminded that New Belgium is 100% employee owned, something I personally hope CBW can emulate once we incorporate into something other than a LLC, and also that other craft breweries have not always acted in such a worker-friendly manner.

That story died on the vine when I had a three week long anxiety attack, enjoying daily bouts of chest tightness and thoughts swirling about like a demonstration of particle physics to the point where I couldn’t concentrate enough to get anything accomplished beyond my basic daily responsibilities. And so: I’d like to read something about beer and mental health, but I have no idea what this would look like. A cursory web search yields the obvious: alcohol is a depressant, you shouldn’t try to use it to solve your problems and it can exacerbate mental illness issues. I mean something beyond that: I’d like something, maybe a collection of personal stories, about living as a beer lover with one or more invisible illnesses. The only angle I can think of comes from the decreased alcohol tolerance that comes with SSRIs3.

I have other topics I’d like to write about eventually, but — oh, yeah, if it wasn’t obvious this list of “things I’d like to read” is synonymous with “things I’d like to write” — nothing even coming close to “book” length. An annotated list:

  • “Beer for bears” (don’t you dare steal that pun): beer in/for the LGBTQIA+/MOGII community.
  • “The unbearable whiteness of being”: I mostly like the title, but essentially we’ve made progress with “women in beer!” but for the most part beer festivals have a mayonnaise complexion. I am not qualified to write this.
  • I don’t have a witty title, but something about craft beer being a luxury unavailable to the economically disadvantaged. I like to consider us populists, but, well, $12 for a growler makes it unavailable to many people.
Yes, I think it'd be great if CBW could become something like one of the third places discussed below.

Yes, I think it’d be great if CBW could become something like one of the third spaces discussed below.

When we started CBW, Chris described us as being the beer people drank while they sat around talking about how to change the world. This brings us back to the first point, and perhaps suggests the uniting theme of an anthology containing all of these ideas: beer and pubs as the third space throughout history.

There you have it: my hopes and dreams and secret desires (well, most of them). We’ve arrived at the entire point of “My Embeered Life”, the blog embedded within a brewery’s blog, where I try to explore beer as an integral part of life, but not its focus. For me, beer exists alongside most of what I do but does not always take center stage. I am comprised of love for beer but it does not define me, and authors exploring that theme is the sort of beer writing I would like to read.

  1. Standard disclaimer here: I am of CBW but not CBW itself, opinions expressed yadda yadda yadda. 

  2. Though not in quite as combative a way as that. 

  3. For the record, yes I was talking about starting an antidepressant in Moderation at the Beer Geek Festival: I feel more than slightly narcissistic going out of my way to “admit” that but I also strongly feel that honest discussion is the best way to kill the stigma that comes with mental illness. You aren’t alone and you aren’t broken. 

One comment on “What I’d like to read

  1. Terry felton on

    Should it perhaps be “The Unbearable Whiteness of Beering.” I too have long been concerned about cultural paleness in the craft beer world. It seems craft beer could be a huge positive influence on race relations if only it could move away from it’s ties to privilege.

    Maybe next June CBW and some other Buffalo breweries should set up at Juneteenth.

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