Friday, January 02, 2009
Old and New
This post is my effort toward the global beer blogging community's collective Friday Session, hosted by yours truly this month. I picked this unwieldy subject and will endeavor to make something of sense out of it (no small task).
What will I miss from 2008 and what will I excitedly await in 2009?
I will miss many things, not the least of which is the time that's passed (as I get older, I treasure that so very much more!). I miss the time that passed during which I failed to brew as much as I wanted and so failed to improve on my brewing skills with the effort. As trite as it sounds, it is missed opportunities that I most regret. I missed the chance to brew the stepped set of increasingly alcoholic, increasingly dark lagers that I had planned on building this Winter. I had wanted to brew three or four lagers, starting with a light colored, light lager and finishing with a Doppelbock, with a couple of others in between. Didn't get it done (yet). I miss the fact that there were opportunities to improve my homebrewing club, The Lapeer Area Brewers, that were not acted upon.
In this year that has shown the world the tenuous nature of the economic situation that we all held as so sound, not so many months ago, I feel particularly sorry that the United States has lost its last remaining big brewer. There is no longer an American beer in the big three (B-M-C). Inbev has purchased the Anheuser-Busch (now ABInBev)powerhouse and changed the landscape of corporate beer in the world forever. A-B has been the top brewer in the States since the year I was born (1957). That's a long time! Sure they make corporate swill but it was our corporate swill! Let's not forget the good things that A-B did for beer and brewing here in the US and in the world, either. Many hop varieties owe their existence to A-B, since the demand for newer and better hops came directly from the bigger brewers and was answered by the world's hop growers. Never mind the fact that you could never taste the Cascade, Willamette, Liberty, Mt. Hood and Sterling hops in their beer, all of these hop varieties came about due to Anheuser-Busch-sponsored research (to be fair, all of the big brewers sponsor such research). Since all of these hops were developed here, in the US, the entire brewing world that uses them (yes, most of our hops are exported), should also be thankful for A-B!
I guess I should say here that A-B is not gone, but merely changed into a more "global" entity. That in itself is sad, as we-so near Detroit-see much of our manufacturing base outsourced and our automobile industry slide into possible receivership. It is a false sadness, though. This is more of the creative destruction that the market and the global economy indulges in to make things better for all of us. I will celebrate it as a change and not as something bad. This is the year of change, no?
As for something I will be excited about in 2009, I can say that it is that change that I most embrace. Change in the sense that all of the good in the world that happens is an improvement upon what has gone before. I see the world of Craft Beer as improving on a daily basis. New brewers and breweries are popping up every day, even in a world that is experiencing a great deal of financial hardship. More importantly the brewers and breweries are making better and better beer!
I visit as many breweries, brewpubs and beer festivals as I can and I am always surprised at the ingenuity, inventiveness and excellence-in-craft that I find. I am excited about the local brewers that interest me, such as Doug Beedy at Fort Street Brewery and Joe Short at Short's Brewery, to name a couple. I see them creatively stretching the boundaries of the Michigan beer world, in their efforts. I anxiously await the next delicious offerings from all of our great craft brewers as well as the craft brewers around the world. I can't wait to be surprised at the ingredient combinations and unusual results these artisans produce and I can't wait to take their inspirations and work my own magic with them in my basement brewery.
In the coming year, I want to experience more of the world's beers. I have been reading about beers from Czechoslovakia that make me drool (thanks to Velky Al and others) and angry that I can't find most of them, here in Michigan. I have gained a greater appreciation for British beers and can't wait to further educate my palate in that country's offerings. German beer also awaits a further exploration in the coming year, as I have sadly neglected this font of beer knowledge. So many countries, so many beers, so little time! There's that time theme, again!
I want to see my homebrewing club expand and gain new members. This past year we saw an influx of new members that has truly enriched our club and our members! New members bring with them new beers, new methods, new equipment and ideas and new friendships! I hope to see more and more of that.
I wish for all my readers and friends that the coming year is a better one for them, that the changes that occur make their lives richer with new experiences and better circumstances and that their lives are further enriched by the beers they drink and the company they keep. Beer is a wonderful drink and a great social lubricant, but it is the people we meet, talk with, drink with and befriend that make us richer. I wish for all of you that your circle of friends grows along with your beer drinking experience!