Today is the birthday of New Zealand beer writer Neil Miller. He writes regularly for Beer and Brewer magazine, the beer blog at Real Beer NZ and the Malthouse Blog. Though born in Scotland — Broxburn — he now calls Wellington his home. I met Neil when he was vising the states with Luke Nicholas and other New Zealand beer aficionados for the Craft Brewers Conferences in 2009. They came over early to tour the west coast before CBC began in San Diego that year. We met up at my local brewpub, Moylan’s, and Neil hilariously tells a story about that meeting that I was completely unaware of at the time. Thanks to the series of tubes known as the internet, we’ve managed to keep in touch since then. Join me in wishing Neil a very happy birthday.
Thursday’s ad may not be a real ad, I’m not entirely sure. It’s for a Brasserie Belden, which I can’t find any information about at all. And the nature of the ad, more like a political attack ad, makes it seem more like a spoof than a real ad that someone might have actually ran. It has the look of an older ad, with the paper staining, at least after World War II, although it’s easy enough to fake that using PhotoShop. I don’t recall where I found this one and the fact that I can’t find any additional information about it on the interwebs further leads me to suspect its veracity, although it’s too funny not to share all the same. “Be a man. Drink Belden.”
The Atlantic magazine had a good round-up of the State of American Beer, based on a report from the trade publication Beverage Industry. Beverage Industry’s March issue had a series of articles on different segments, including Craft brewers’ sales growth continues, Domestic beer case sales decline, Mexican beers dominate imported beer growth and Hard cider draws in consumers from outside the beer category. In addition, at the same time they released a separate report, the 2014 U.S. Beer Category Report.
You could spend the time to read through all of them (and I’d encourage you to do so) but to get an overview of the reports, The Atlantic’s coverage provides the highlights (and even does a better job with the charts). For example, here’s the top craft brands from 2013.
And here’s case sales by brand in a piechart.
And this last one, the percentage change in case sales, is amazing because is shows just how fast Lagunitas is growing, though Stone’s doing pretty well on the growth front, too.
The closer I get to old age, seemingly swifter with every passing year, the more I’ve been noticing that serious people younger than me are worried that senior citizens might be drinking a bit too much at the end of their lives. Hmm. A couple of days ago, the personification of the sheriff of the nanny state, Alcohol Justice, tweeted yet another such study, this one about “Binge Drinking US Seniors — http://bit.ly/1fse3ne — New research raises “‘Cause for Alarm.’” The link takes you to an article on Medscape entitled Binge Drinking in US Seniors ‘Cause for Alarm’ about elderly drinking. Here’s what alarmed the researchers.
A national cohort study of more than 4800 adults older than 64 years showed that almost 10% reported binge drinking ― defined as having 5 or more drinks in 1 sitting for men and 4 or more drinks in a single sitting for women ― in the previous 30 days.
They continue: “Alcohol consumption in seniors can be associated with cognitive decline and worsening of comorbidities, including hypertension, stroke, and osteoporosis.” But that’s false. Moderate drinking has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and increases in cognitive functioning, and there are similar benefits for strokes (“Studies now show that drinking up to 2 alcoholic drinks per day can reduce your risk for stroke by about half”) and osteoporosis (“The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment studied 200,000+ postmenopausal women with no previous diagnosis of osteoporosis. The study found that drinking alcohol significantly reduced the chances of developing osteoporosis”). So that makes me question the validity or motives of the study.
Similarly, the recent Alcohol Research UK 2014 Conference had two presentations on the same subject: “Moderate Alcohol Use in Older Years” and “Alcohol Misuse in Older Adults.” I assume it’s because the largely self-centered baby boomer generation (of which apparently I’m at the tail end of, though I definitely don’t identify myself with) are aging so now research would turn toward the older boomers.
This is the image used by AJ with their tweet, but the people in this photo look like they’re having a great time, don’t they? Aren’t old people allowed to celebrate or have a good time? Is that the issue?
Here’s my gut reaction. In ten or fifteen years — assuming I’m still alive and kicking — when my kids have left the house, finished college and started careers and/or families; after I’ve retired and have no more deadlines to file, no more stories to write; maybe I can relax and drink a few beers. Maybe I’ll even drink five beers in a row, making me — gasp — a binge-drinking elderly person. If I decide to do that at the end of my days, choosing in that way to enjoy the remaining time I have with alcohol, I have just one thing to say to the do-gooders who are alarmed by such behavior: “go fuck yourself.” Seriously, do. As long as I’m not hurting you, please don’t presume to tell me how to live out the end of my days, that seriously pisses me off. Please take your “alarm” and shove it where the sun don’t shine. That has to be the most aggressively obnoxious, arrogant position I’ve heard recently. Please stop telling the rest of us how to live.
Besides the fact that defining binge drinking as five consecutive drinks is completely absurd, especially considering the most recent FDA Dietary Guidelines allow four drinks in a row for a man (with no more than 14 per week). So that means the difference between moderate, healthy imbibing and dangerous binge drinking is exactly one drink. Yeah, that seems reasonable.
There’s living and there’s living; just existing and being really alive. I’m planning on trying to enjoy the time I have left. If that means drinking a few beers on occasion, that is, and quite properly ought to be, my own business. If my family has a problem with that, I’m confident they’ll be sure to tell me. Everybody else, keep walking. I plan on being a unrepentant curmudgeon. There’s no reason to change now.
Today is the birthday of the late Alan Eames, one of the first Americans who wrote extensively about beer, especially in a serious way, mining history and culture for his topics. I never met Alan, though I talked to him on the phone a few times. When he passed away a few years ago, my friend Pete Slosberg bought his library, and donated much of it to the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colorado, for their library. When Pete and his wife moved to San Francisco, he gave me several boxes from the library, mostly old newsletters, press releases and other miscellaneous stuff, including the poem below.
By coincidence, today is also the day when many people celebrate the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s birthday around 384 B.C.E. Nobody’s sure of the exact date that Aristotle was born, and I’m not even sure why today is used by so many sources, but it’s as good a day as any, I suppose. Anyway, I was browsing through boxes of Alan’s papers and found a Xeroxed copy of a 17th century poem from one of Eames’ books, “A Beer Drinker’s Companion,” from 1986, which also mentions Aristotle. The author is unknown, but it seemed appropriate because of the connection between Alan Eames and Aristotle and their mutual birthday today. Enjoy.
Beer and Women
While I’m at the tavern quaffing,
Well disposed for t’other quart,
Come’s my wife to spoil my laughing,
Telling me ’tis time to part:
Words I knew, were unavailing,
Yet I sternly answered, No!
‘Till from motives more prevailing,
Sitting down she treads my toe:
Such kind tokens to my thinking,
Most emphatically prove
That the joys that flow from drinking,
Are averse to those of love.
Farewell friends and t’other bottle,
Since I can no longer stay,
Love more learn’d than Aristotle,
Has, to move me, found the way.
Tuesday’s ad is by the beer industry, from the later 1950s when things were friendlier. This pro-beer industry ad is from after the “Beer Belongs” series ended its run in 1956. Showing a group of campers by the side of a lake, I love the tagline (it’s such a creature of its time). “Beer has its own friendly way of saying … Come and get it.” Also, note the inset box explaining how to clean beer glassware. Everything old is new again.
Sunday’s ad is by the United States Industrial Foundation, from around the same time as their “Morale is a Lot of Little Things” campaign during World War 2, though this one may be just after the war. What more could a man want: a brook, a fish and a beer. One of out three ain’t bad, though if the weather’s nice the brook might be okay, too.