Friday, November 2, 2012

The Perfect Beer World (The Session no.69)

The Session is a monthly event for the beer blogging community, started by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. On the first Friday of each month, all participating bloggers write about a predetermined topic. Each month a different blog is chosen to host The Session, choose the topic, and post a roundup of all the responses received. For more info on The Session, check out the Brookston Beer Bulletin's archive page.

This month's Session is hosted by Jorge Zarate of the blog Brew Beer And Drink It. His chosen topic: The Perfect Beer World.

"What is something you would like to see change...something that will take us closer to the Perfect Beer World? The topic is wide open, even if you think that what you want to change for the better is not important or ridiculous...share it! I have personally been looking into gruit ales, few beer drinkers pay attention to gruit or even 'real ales' and would love to see more micro-breweries include these on their menus..."

A great topic from Jorge for this month's Session, because it reflects one of the most common conversations that rises when craft beer lovers/nerds/snobs/drinkers gather. The context, tone and depth of discussion on this topic varies greatly, but it always comes back to the simple reality of how we all just want to have good more beer. To have good beer, however, we need a world that appreciates beer and world where good beer is readily accessible.

If beer is truly appreciated for its science and art, then beer will be crafted, brewed, packaged, transported/stored, sold and served correctly and respectfully, resulting in a perfectly poured and appropriate consumed refreshment or meal in a glass. Furthermore, that beer will have been created for the purpose of brewing good beer, instead of any market or business considerations.

Achieving such complete perfection, across the full life-cycle of beer, may essentially be impossible in today's capitalist and global economy.

Controlling every aspect of beer from grain to glass in beyond reasonable because it passes through far too many hands in the vast majority of cases. Whilst I'm fast learning the advantage of enjoying beer brewed locally and on a small scale, which mostly allows for much of the beer's life-cycle to stay somewhere in the vicinity of perfection, I am more of a mundane realist when it comes to what I can have.

What I can have, I believe, is the perfection of accessibility to good beer.

What we currently have here in Australia at the moment is very limited access (relatively) to craft beer and good beer. Bottleshops, pubs, bars, venues and restaurants and still dominated by a sad selection of samey, not-good beer. Taps, fridges and shelves remain overwhelmed by generic, bland, mass produced, adjunct-filled lagers that are industrially brewed with altered/extract base ingredients. The vast majority of time we are still faced a boring "choice" of macro-swill/shit beer/cat piss/may as well be water, even in this age of thriving craft and diverse beer of flavour.

Today, the majority of pubs I walk into still have a line up of beer taps that are 80-90 per cent generic lagers. The beers may have different brand names but they are all the same style and their appearance varies only in the slightest. Even worse, the selection is exactly the same all year round. Lager is fine in the heat of Summer, yet even in the stout and porter appropriate weather of Winter it is still all lager, lager, lager. The biggest selling point of "differentiation" tends to be Imported/Premium/Local beer. Blerg. It's still the same beer!

The common beer choice in this imperfect beer world...lager, lager, lager, (cider), lager...

The same continues in almost every bar, restaurant and bottleshop. It may be slowly changing, with craft beer growing along with some recognition for the available diversity of beer styles, but we are a very long way off perfection.

I drive 45km to and from work. On that drive I do not pass a bar, pub or bottleshop where I can get good beer. Melbourne may have a many great beer venues, small breweries and specialist beer shops, but they are still few and far between. Those hints of a future preferction are mostly "craft beer venues" and are currently the exception. On my hour long drive home from work I pass numerous pubs and hotels, none of which provide any options for a thirsty guy to choose from a selection delicious local ales.

In the perfect beer world I will be able to walk into any place that serves/sells beer and find a diverse selection of beers, diverse in style, maker and character. I'll be able to purchase a flavoursome and well crafted beer that suits the time, place and weather...anywhere!

The right beer in the right place at the right time...that beer world will be perfect.

A regional Queensland pub takes their first steps to a perfect beer world.


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