Welcome to Squibs: your highly unpredictable yet oddly compelling look into the mind & reading habits of CBW President Ethan Cox. I was considering bi-weekly…. and then, I reconsidered. I like “whenever,” because scarcity = value. But you can at least count on Sunday night releases- I’ll give you that much.
1) Boak and Bailey are a pair of English beer bloggers, sort of along the lines of Zythophile or Ron Pattenson… But no, that’s not quite right. I guess I’d say they’re more interested in the social history of beer (in England, natch) than the history of beer itself. As well, though, they talk a bit more about contemporary beer than either of those historical scholars. Yet, I group them together- perhaps because I found my way to all of them through Alan’s blog. Anyhoo, this somewhat recent post is a review of what seems to be a delightfully off (and it seems to me highly British) bit of pseudo-scholarship, the Mass Observation series of experiments and books. Quoth they…
“‘Mass Observation’ was a social research group founded in 1936 founded by an anthropologist called Tom Harrisson, along with filmmaker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. It ran, in its first incarnation, until the nineteen-sixties, and the ‘Worktown’ study was its first major piece of work. It saw Harrisson and a team of observers (some locals, others from academia) descend on the Lancashire town and, for three years from 1937, watched and recorded everything, however apparently inconsequential.”
needless to say, “everything” includes the pub, which is the subject of the book under review in this post- it sounds to me like fantastic reading.
2) You can’t get growlers in Florida, didja know? I did. But I did not know that you can get both 32 and 120 oz. “growlers” filled, which I have to say is really strange… What’s up with 64 ounces? What did 64 ounces ever do to you?! Anyway, this article susses out the positions on pending legislation which would address this oddity. Note well why the lobbyist who against it, is against it… Priceless.
4) Are hops addictive? Not so much. Now, CBW’s THE IPA might be a different story. I know people that won’t buy anything else!
5) If you haven’t read Iain Banks or Iain M. Banks, you still can: books live forever, even if people don’t. I am beyond sad that there will be no more fiction, science or otherwise, from this brilliantly inventive writer. I remember reading his first book—ten years after it was published—in a dingy flat in Belfast in 1994. I still have that Abacus imprint paperback of The Wasp Factory, signed by the punkers I was hanging with at the time. (Kierin, Andy, wherever you are: you owe me some teeth, you bastards!) Andrew Leonard writes a touching pre-eulogy, for lack of a better term. And one day, CBW will absolutely name a beer after one of Banks’ most amazingly awesome and compelling characters: a sentient spaceship named Very Little Gravitas Indeed.
6) Did you know I also have another vehicle for beery ramblings, one I share with two swell guys named Nick and Chris? If you never have, you might check out Craft Beer Talk. Once, we were a radio show on WECK (I will not link to them; long story), and for awhile we were part of the Buffalo.com and Audio Buffalo group (maybe we still are, I’m not even sure) but for the last two years anyway, we’ve been rocking it as a podcast. We talk, y’know, about beer… ofttimes, the longer you listen, the more loose we get- but we try to blend the entertaining and the informative. And sometimes, we even have guests! Check out the last episode, in which we share a few rounds with Paul from Flying Bison. Tomorrow, we’ll be drinking some Southern Tier with one of their brewers and good times are sure to ensue.
7) From the “I read Beerpulse.com so you don’t have to” files, this article on Ken Grossman who founded Sierra Nevada is highly insightful, and especially entertaining and well-written for business journalism. The good news? Sierra Nevada is really, truly, a good comapny to work for. It seems as well that they are great stewards of their products and the world itself. Equivocal news? They’re nearing the 1,000,000 barrels/year mark, and the new brewery isn’t even on-line yet. What makes craft craft? How do we quantify quality? Why is Boston Beer Company in and August Schell out? How to assess value? With Sierra crossing that million-barrel line, all these questions that won’t quite go away will… not go away some more, be assured. New Belgium will be next-and they make highly respected sours and are employee-owned!!! This industry is charting new territory: in terms of growth; in terms of sales figures; in terms of stress on pipeline industries from glass to hops to equipment manufacturers; even in terms of business models and founding sources. Many fear a retraction, at best and a bubble-bursting at worst. But for ourselves, CBW remains remarkably sanguine about the potential here in Buffalo. You guys are great, and you want great beer, badly. I see it every day, especially on the social media fora. I think, whatever happens in San Diego or Asheville, Buffalo’s Embeering is just beginning: And many miles to go before we sleep.