The Session is “an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic.” Jorge of Brew Beer And Drink It hosts this month’s Session, number sixty-nine:
Ever feel like there are many things in this world that are backwards, upside down, wrong… that just don’t make sense? Like local craft beer not being considered ‘domestic’ in the menu of many restaurants in the US… Or like having a beer that doesn’t taste very good have the largest market share…among other things…but, hey. This. World. Is. Not. Perfect!
[W]hat would you change to lead us into the Perfect Beer World? [O]r how do you describe the Perfect Beer World? It’s your world too you know…
Though I believe the beer community is one of the best sub-cultures on this planet, there is always room for improvement. I, along with others addressing this topic, could go on forever. Because Jorge kicked it off with his own three-bullet list, however, I’ll spare you and do the same.
* Beer should be recognized as entirely gender-neutral (or rather, a distinction should never be made).
The most recent culprit of this faux paus, though not beer but still alcohol-related, is TIME Magazine in a recent article about cider. The writer states, “Another reason cider is having a moment is that is there’s a good chance women will drink it. Unlike beer, cider is not viewed as an overwhelmingly male drink.” Only once we stop harping on this distinction will beer become universally agonistic with respect to gender. (Note: I don’t write this with clean hands. All About Beer Magazine published similar gender-defining language in a recent cider piece, and we apologized for our oversight.)
* Casks should be used to showcase a style of conditioning and not used as a way to attract patrons or as an excuse to include the kitchen sink.
I feel comfortable writing that 90 percent of the time I see the word “cask,” it is in all uppercase letters and ends with an exclamation point. In the States, “CASK!” has become synonymous with “something rare that you should not miss” instead of an opportunity to educate the beer-drinking public about a unique aroma, flavor and mouthfeel experience achieved by serving the beer at cellar temperature and with natural carbonation.
Along the same lines, it’s not often that I see casks containing solely beer. “CASK!” has become a code word for stuffing random food items inside the vessel, i.e., orange peels, cocoa nibs, coffee beans, rose hips and maple-soaked oak chips. I require brewers in The Art of Beer cask ale tent at All About Beer Magazine‘s World Beer Festivals to supply their casks free of any additives other than dry-hopping ingredients, and it would be prudent for retailers to start doing the same for the sake of beer quality and cask education in the States.
* Retailers serving craft beer should appropriately educate their staff.
I’m a firm believer in that education directed at all levels, from new drinkers to Master Cicerones®, can only raise the sophistication level of the beer community and get us one step closer to The Perfect Beer World. Of course, self-acclaimed beer bars and restaurants should seek to make sure servers know what piece of glassware to use and how to suggest an appropriate food pairing, but the more important opportunity for advancement of the beer world occurs at the other end of the spectrum—retailers that happen to serve a few micros amongst a sea of macros. This is where lifelong conversions to craft are made. This is where beer epiphanies spring forth. And this is where a knowledgable staff can suggest, or encourage a patron to try, a beer that just might change his or her life.